There is a lot of unrest right now. The economy and lack of jobs is worrisome, work/life balance seems to be anything but in balance, and folks in the social space are playing musical chairs in the job market. It is a topsy turvey world and all of us are trying to find our footing.
So while I am seeing a slew of posts such as how to know when is the right time to leave your job and what you need to do to get your new job or how to handle an interview, I haven’t seen content addressing what to do when you have scored your next dream job and are making your way to the exit door of your current job. It’s a small world. The same connections you worked to secure your new position will also be noticing the way in which you leave your existing position.
Even if you have the boss from Office Space and you fantasize about what you would do when you hand in your resignation, it must remain that…a fantasy. Building bridges will not show you are superior and will only hurt you in the long run. Instead, put some thought into how you want to be remembered and leave your job in a manner showcasing your work integrity.
The way you leave a job is just as important as the way in which you score a job. Here are some ways to keep your integrity intact and leave on a good note:
After you hand in your resignation, it is so easy to think, “that isn’t my problem any longer” and not give 100% effort. Of course, some may argue that once you have submitted your resignation you are no longer giving your full attention or effort because your headspace is now thinking about the next leap, but I challenge this thinking. In life there are choices. We can choose to be fully engaged and put our best foot forward and not resort to excuses society has conveniently given to us. No, you can choose to be the better person. Leaving your house or team in havoc does not shine the spotlight on whatever issues you think the team or organization may have had, it shines a spotlight on you and your actions or lack thereof.
My mantra (and I am sure my former team was very tired of hearing this phrase repeatedly) is, ‘”Make sure your own side of the street is clean.” Meaning, you can’t go about casting stones and complaining about other people’s garbage if you have a heap of your own on the front lawn. If there are known personnel or project issues, do not leave that mess around for the next person to clean up. Your replacement will have enough on their plate without having to worry about what skeletons in the closet you may have left for them. Bring issues to life and try to resolve before your departure. At the very least, make sure your superiors and replacement are aware of these issues and the steps you have taken to find a resolution.
Draft a Transition Plan
Even if your replacement is already a member of your team or organization, ensure this person is not left wondering what your team (or yourself) did or did not accomplish. Compile team/project history, timelines, status updates, and recommendations into a single document or library. Give your replacement enough information that he/she can begin building their own roadmap. Leaving your co-workers to flounder in your absence is not the way to stick it to them or prove the point of why you should have been invaluable. It only proves the point that you no longer belonged on that team.
There is a lot of chatter about personal brands and the risks of leaving a company. In the community space this is a real fear that must be addressed. Just as I was about to hit publish on this post this morning, Doug Haslam published a great example of how organizations can embrace the personal brand and not overhype the concern of integrating personalities. Doug writes, “As for social media in corporations, the worry that a standout personality will risk crippling social media efforts when that person leaves should not be a worry at all. A company just needs a succession plan, and then someone to be the successor.” It is not your place to determine the successor, but you can make the choice to ensure a smooth transition by creating a solid transition plan.
Ask for Feedback
No one is perfect. If you really want to start your new position with a clean slate, learn from your mistakes. Know your strengths and weaknesses. You may have a pretty good idea of what those strengths and weaknesses may be, but often we tend to sweep such knowledge under the proverbial rugs in our brain. Make the choice to ask for feedback. When leaving my last position, I asked co-workers to give me a POINt evaluation. Each person identified:
- Pluses: Identify the good things about the person.
- Opportunities: Identify the positive changes this person could make to be even better.
- Issues: Identify how this person might overcome certain weaknesses.
- New thinking: Identify workable solutions for this person.
I wasn’t golden. No one is. In fact, I knew my areas of weakness, but to see them identified by another and in print drives the point home. It is not about rising through the ranks quicker, but being a better person. Seeing this feedback helped me find the courage to remove the rugs and stop hiding the garbage that I should take responsibility for cleaning.
So, take a moment before you get all giddy about your next job. What will you do with your two weeks (or however long the transition time) before you walk out the door? Who will you be and how will you be perceived? The choice is yours.
Share some other items to keep in mind when making a transition. As a person leaving a job, what have you done to build a succession plan? As a replacement, what do you wish the person before you would have done?