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Five Ways to Leave Your Job (Well)

I’m on my way out to a goodbye party for a very good employee. She’s been with our company for many years, and after an ex-pat assignment in the US, is returning home to Australia to a new job with a different employer. We’ll miss her terribly. She’s not only a great employee, she’s a dear friend to many Kronites.

In keeping with her excellence as an employee, she’s been a role model for how to leave a job with style. Here are five lessons to carry with you the next time you need to jump:

  1. Provide your manager with as much advance notice as possible. Giving him/her more time to adjust key stakeholder expectations and shift resources is invaluable.
  2. Keep excellent records of your key projects and commitments – and share them with those who need to know in order to preserve as much continuity as possible.
  3. Help identify candidates – internal or external – who can replace you (or at least assume your responsibilities if you’re irreplaceable).
  4. Keep your communications about your current employer positive. The decision to leave an employer often includes the opportunity to leave behind some negatives. Resist the temptation to enumerate these negatives for your soon-to-be former coworkers.
  5. Provide honest and direct feedback to your management about how to improve the position for the next incumbent.

Thanks for everything, Natira – and good on ya!

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. MG #

    Thanks, this is timely as I recently gave notice. I’ve been with my company for 10+ years so figured I’d give them 10+ weeks’ notice.

    I like my company, but am leaving primarily because of a not great direct supervisor and the workload.

    I’ve tried to do most of the list above, but would like to know how to keep all the talk positive. There are a few internal people–friends even–who are interested in applying for my job. How do I keep the tone positive if, in fact, it’s not? I don’t want to sell them the same bill of goods that I was sold…but on the other hand, I really want to find my replacement!

    Thanks.

    May 2, 2008
  2. MG –
    First, kudos for giving your employer such a long lead time. In talking to those who are interested in the job, you can be candid discussing the pros and cons of the position without being disrespectful. As an example, if the workload often means evening or weekend time is necessary to keep up, then I’d tell someone that.

    One additional tip that I could have added above is to take advantage of an HR exit interview if that’s an option. If you feel comfortable doing so, offer constructive feedback about the challenges with the manager and the position as designed and suggestions for how the situation could be improved.

    Also, while it’s great that you’re trying to help with the backfill, you’re not ultimately responsible for finding your own replacement (unless they’re tying some sort of incentive to you doing so).

    May 2, 2008
  3. Hi Joyce, Great post. One thing that I’ve observed is that oftentimes no one takes the time to notice when someone leaves a job well. In fact, I’ve seen leaving employees beg for someone to sit down with them so they can transition work, show where the file folders are, and let them know about lingering issues. Often, no one will listen…until it is too late.

    It is a manager’s job to help the employee transition out of a job (if they are leaving the company or just the position). The manager needs to set clear expectations about what the employee needs to do during their notice period. And, the manager must make the time so sit with the person and review prior to the last day.

    If both parties are engaged until the end a successful transition will occur.

    May 4, 2008
  4. JD #

    Thanks for this post. I recently gave six weeks notice at my job (been with the company for four years). I’m glad to see that Iso far ‘ve been in line with your tips on how to leave my job well.

    One point – I was only able to give this much notice because I am transitioning to being an at-home-mom/freelancer and not going to a new company. It’s difficult to give much more than two weeks notice if you’re moving on to a new company – epecially if you want a little down time between jobs.

    I have never been able to give more than two weeks notice to any employer before moving to the next, which is unfortunate – because two weeks was never enough time to wrap things up properly. And I regretted that, especially when I really liked/respected my manager and wanted to help him/her out as much as possible.

    May 6, 2008

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