Question: I need to have a difficult discussion with my boss, who is the owner of a small family business. For 12 years, "Craig" and I have had a wonderful working relationship. He has given me many opportunities, for which I am extremely grateful.
Despite loving my job, I have always hoped to eventually spend more time with my children. My husband now makes enough to support our family, so we have agreed that I should become a full-time mom. But I'm afraid Craig may misinterpret my decision.
Recently, our business has been going through tough times. Because of declining sales, employees have lost benefits and paychecks are frequently late. When I announce my resignation, Craig could feel betrayed and assume that I've just given up on the company. To make matters worse, I also need to ask for three months of back pay that he owes me. How should I approach this conversation?
Answer: Combining a warm, grateful farewell with a request for money is like putting hot peppers on ice cream. The two simply don't go together well. Therefore, a wiser approach would be to separate these radically different topics. First, meet with Craig to explain your family circumstances and express your feelings about leaving.
For example: "Craig, I need to let you know that Jack and I believe our kids should have a full-time parent at home right now. Unfortunately, that means I will have to resign. This was not an easy decision, because I feel a great deal of loyalty to you and the company. However, it's the best choice for our family."
Give Craig a few days to absorb this news, then politely mention the past-due paychecks. If you haven't been reimbursed by the time you depart, be sure to get a signed acknowledgement of the debt. Even when relationships are good, financial agreements need to be documented.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Send in questions and get free coaching tips at www.yourofficecoach.com.