We try to avoid it (sometimes for far too long), but for most people, we will inevitably face a situation where we have to leave our current job. It may be for a plethora of reasons, ranging from the great (you got offered your dream job) to the not so great (toxic work environment is too much to handle). Even in situations that are admittedly less than ideal, there are still some simple ways that you can show respect and professionalism when leaving a job.
Leaving on Good Terms
Leaving your job on good terms with your coworkers and peers is beneficial in a number of ways. Your coworkers and colleagues are some of your best networking opportunities. These are all people who work in a field related to yours, who know you professionally, and who could help your future prospects. These people may be able to set you up with a great job in the future, or a lucrative contract when you move to a different role.
Beyond the networking and professional benefits of leaving on good terms, is the peace of mind. Leaving behind an office full of disgruntled, disrespectful colleagues is stressful and anxiety inducing. Knowing that your past coworkers have only good things to say about you, and that they would defend your decision to seek other employment, is a huge weight off your mind.
Tips for Leaving Your Job
If you want to maintain healthy relationships, and leave your job on good terms, there are few things that will help your ability to do that.
Don’t tell people you’re thinking about leaving
When you first start thinking about leaving, it’s best to keep that to yourself. Hearing that one of your coworkers is planning on leaving can cause a lot of undue stress on those around you. Continue to do your best work, while you build your “escape plan.”
There are many reasons why keeping these plans to yourself (especially in the early stages) is the best bet. For one, your plans or timeline may change pretty drastically, but if your coworkers all think that you’re leaving, you may be treated differently. If your decision to stay or leave is contingent upon something like a promotion, you certainly don’t want your superiors thinking that you have one foot out the door. They’ll surely pass you over for that promotion in that case.
Keep your initial plans to yourself, and quietly start building the resources you’ll need to move on to a new role.
Minimise impact on your organisation
First and foremost, if you are a contracted employee, leave within the terms and timeframes of your contract. Breaching a professional contract is a serious affront and should be avoided whenever possible. It doesn’t look good for either party, and will leave a lot of uncomfortable questions for your next employer.
When it is time to move on, you should offer significant notice so that your colleagues can find a replacement or develop a plan for how to delegate your duties. When possible, offer to help train your replacement, or offer to create documentation explaining your duties, to assist in the transition period.
Treat people like people
When the time does come to let your colleagues and coworkers know about your plans, be honest, open and kind. Despite how we might feel about our coworkers, they become a huge part of your life. Having a coworker leave can be an emotional experience for them as well. It does wonders for everyone’s peace of mind to know that there is an atmosphere of mutual respect and admiration among those parting ways.
When you give your notice, do so in person (when possible). Be prepared to answer questions graciously and succinctly. While this is ultimately your decision, and you aren’t obligated to provide an explanation to anyone, being honest and communicative is the best way to assure a seamless, positive transition.
We all end up leaving jobs in our careers. Leaving on good terms is beneficial to your career and your peace of mind. When you’re thinking about leaving your job, don’t tell people right off the bat. Make sure that you have a plan, and are ready to make a move before you start putting that uncertainty into other people’s lives as well.
Once you’ve made your decision, you should do what you can to minimise the impact your leaving will have on your organisation. Offer to train your replacement, if possible. Finally, when you do tell your colleagues of your plans, be honest and kind. This is a transition for everyone, and being thoughtful and open will be appreciated by your peers.
If you’re thinking about reinventing your career, get in touch today for a free career consultation!