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Leaving Well

Kristi Porter
Kristi Porter Friday May 19, 2017
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“So long. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen. Goodbye.”

If you haven’t said these words recently to an employer, give or take the German, you’ll likely say them before too long. Changing jobs is now a part of life. It’s inevitable. When, not if.

In fact, you’ve probably heard, or have your own horror story. Those are the ones that spread, and are only funny if they don’t happen to you—either on the receiving or giving end. But if you’re reading this blog, you’re likely the type of person who wants to live, and leave, with integrity.

So whether you’re transitioning out of your department or out of your organization, there are a few steps you can take to leave well.

Plan the Announcement

I recently heard of a woman who quit her job over Periscope to 10,000 followers. When recounting the story, this woman says that she did it in a respectful way, and though she didn’t provide great detail, I wonder how that can be true. Maybe this is the business equivalent of breaking up with someone over text. Either way: Yikes!

While it’s rare that your plan will go exactly the way you want, it’s still good to have one. You need to be respectful of your company, your boss and anyone else this may directly effect. Take into account how long of a notice to give (if that’s within your control), where the conversation should take place, and when it should happen. You’ll also likely have some ideas about how to tell others at the company, but if possible, work with your boss to make sure he/she is also satisfied. Bringing them into the process also shows respect.

Set Your Replacement Up for Success

It may sound cheesy, but “successor” is an appropriate term here. If you’re just transitioning to a new role at the organization, this may be easier because you will still be around to answer questions or provide as-needed training. But if you’re leaving entirely, this becomes even more important because you don’t want to leave your replacement floundering. If you’ve made the choice to leave, whether under good or bad circumstances, you shouldn’t leave with the mentality that you’re irreplaceable or want the business to suffer. This is a toxic mindset that hurts you, your former employer and your future employer.

Create a checklist of your tasks and responsibilities. Organize your files and emails. Speak with your boss or the IT department to make sure that your successor has access to all your files, emails and other relevant systems and data. Do your best to provide them with a theoretical, or even physical, manual for your position.

If you’re leaving, it’s hard not to get consumed with the new position you’re about to take. But this extra effort will go a long way toward goodwill and good business. You never know when you’ll be on the receiving end of this practice, or need a favor from an old co-worker.

Build Bridges, Don’t Burn Them

You should always break the news, not the relationship. The old Godfather adage, “It’s not personal, it’s business” isn’t true. I doubt it ever was, but that’s especially true in the digital age—and let’s face it—just a big, fat lie when it comes to the Church. The Church is deeply personal by design.

The Church should be known for building bridges, but that can only be the case when its people do the same. From a business perspective, you may need these relationships down the road. From a Biblical perspective, seek to be more like Jesus. So, despite how you feel in the moment, there’s probably no real need to turn over any tables here . . .

As always, one of the only things you can control are your own actions. While I may not know your organization, your boss or your circumstances, I do know that you have the ability to choose wisely. And when you leave well, you leave both doors and hearts open.

Kristi Porter is a writer and consultant for nonprofits and for-profit businesses with a social mission, primarily in the areas of copywriting, marketing and business communications. Find her online at www.signify.solutions, or offline at the movie theater.