I recently read an article about leaving your current organization. It's a fact of life. People leave their current jobs for various reasons (e.g. life's taken a different turn, spouse got a better opportunity in another city, etc). The article talked about the right ways and wrong ways to leave an organization. For example, a manager having just came back from a two-week vacation to find a two-week old email from an employee who was giving his two-week notice. What do you think the manager's reaction is? Although the employee's within his rights but he is actually burned his bridge with this employer. Think about how you are going to get references from this employee in your next job hunt. The article mentioned that the best way is to ensure that there is a transitionary period for you to transition all your outstanding stuff to (e.g. sales account, etc) and that you contact each of your sales accounts (assuming that you are in sales) to let them know and who their new contact would be. Of course, this is a generalization as it depends on the organization and the position that you hold within that organization especially if you are leaving to go to a competitor.
Personally, as a manager, I would encourage employees to leave only if they find that there are no opportunities left in the organization for them or the organization is not a right fit for them. I would want the employees to leave on good terms so that (a) they can come back if they wish to and the organization has a need for their skills and knowledge and (b) they can help spread the good reputation of the organization.
The worst thing that I'd ever had to do was to actually fire an employee. This is basically a last resort where everything has been tried to make the employer-employee relationship work but it's unworkable. It then becomes personal as you had to sit down and explain to the employee what happened and why. A lot of times, it was shock (shouldn't be), denial, anger (sometimes the employee stomped out and was escorted out after packing up personal belongings), or quiet relief (a sense of closure).
Anyhow, back to topic onhand, if you are looking at moving on from your current organization, it's best to provide as much notice as possible to ensure a smooth transition. In British Columbia, the legal requirements for providing notice is your based on your pay period (which is normally biweekly). So, if you are paid monthly, then the minimum period is one month. So, let's say that you have decided that you wish to leave your current employer for whatever reasons, what's next?
First, you should sit down and go through what's on your plate and figure out how much time you will need to finish your immediate tasks and transition the rest. This will give you a basis for how much notice (at the minimum) that you will need to provide.
Secondly, you will need to sit down with your immediate supervisor/manager and formally tender your resignation. Have your transition plan with you to present and schedule a time later (next day if possible) to go over the transition plan.
Thirdly, once the transition plan is accepted and a designate has been identified for you to hand over, you need to keep your supervisor/manager informed (on a daily basis) so that there are no surprises.
Lastly, on your last week, start going around with your good-byes (as folks could be away on your last day).
If you planning on moving on from your current organization, good luck and I hope that this blog entry has given you some food for thought.
Disclaimer: The above is a generalization and basically suggested guidelines.