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How To Resign Effectively Part 2

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43

I have previously posted on how to resign effectively and how Eleanor Roosevelt's resignation from Daughters of the American Revolution which represents a model on how to leave any organisation.

We have just had two UK cabinet resignations namely Michael Fallon and Priti Patel - It is very interesting to compare both letters which we refer to here and here.

Both resignations give a snap shot give a clear indication of likely long terms career prospects, what the parties think of each of other, how stressed the parties feel and whether the specific offence which led to the resignation may be repeated. 

Because the resignation letter is the most public document that any politician may write and the way it is written says more about that politician than any other document.

First, even though on the face of it the allegations appear more serious about Michael Fallon (following Harvey Weinstein allegations and subsequent anti sexual harassment climate though here we do not know the full allegations against Mr Fallon, so caveat that), he has a greater chance of rehabilitation with Theresa May compared to Priti Patel.

How the resignation is communicated by all parties is often revealing of how the relationship with the boss really is (e.g allowing Michael Fallon to do it on camera at the Ministry of Defence = respect from Prime Minister versus Priti Patel being flown back from Africa and resigning in six minutes and then allowing a story to be published in the Telegraph saying she is in a position to do “hard damage” to Theresa May according to her allies = mutual lack of respect).  

We do not know if Priti Patel authorised the "hard damage" story in the Telegraph but any future employer of Ms Patel would want to know if she did as they would be fearful that if they fell out with Ms Patel she would subsequently publically criticise the employer.  

Theresa May signed the letter with the name Priti Patel which is a sign that she is poorly staffed and also that she is under stress.  ‚Äč

As is often the case with a resignation letter a sure way to determine the vanity of the person writing it is here to look at the length of it and how much they say about themselves- generally the longer the letter is the poorer it is and from experience and the more vain the politician is.

Given the fact that Michael Fallon has been in Parliament much longer than Priti Patel you would think that his letter would be longer. Not a bit of it though he has been able to list a series of his achievements within two paragraphs which do not look too self serving. 

Ms Patel's letter does not talk about herself directly but she clearly likes to talk and does not believe in the succinct approach. When a Channel 4 News journalist received Patel letter he could not reveal immediately the reason for the resignation, as the letter was so long. 

However, where both letters fundamentally fail as tools of communication (though Michael Fallon may have better reason not to be totally frank as it could(and I emphasise could) expose him to legal action) is that they do not directly address why they felt compelled to resign. E.g The two politicians do not specify what they have done wrong.

If you have done something wrong, you need to fully say what it is, what you have learnt and how you propose to deal with it meaning that if Michael Fallon has a sexual conduct problem (or whatever as we do not know and can only guess via media reports) he needs to do something about it. While Ms Patel covers much of the background to her difficulty she fails to identify the trigger point which was her lack of full disclosure to her boss when they first discussed her conduct.

In any employment relationship undergoing stress, details are critical as they address fundamental issues of integrity.

Thus both politicians do not convey self understanding from their resignations meaning that the problems which led to their resignation may manifest again.