Quitting: How to Leave the Right Way

Angie Ahrens, CMP

25 February 2019

Leaving a company is stressful—I know, I just did it as I accepted the opportunity to join Leadercast as vice president of operations late last year. When you make the decision to part from an organization, you are not only leaving the job you’ve come to know well, you are also saying goodbye to co-workers who may have become friends, a space you are familiar with, and the daily routine or pattern you have developed. To top it off, you’re adding on the stress of a new job: adjusting to the new culture, learning new processes and procedures, and maybe even traveling a new commute to a different part of the city in which you aren't familiar.

There is a reason why most of us list starting a new job as one of the most stressful life events out there. During this time of high stress, it is important to not let emotions take over and to exit in the best way possible. Here are a few tips for how to leave the right way when a new opportunity arises.

Prepare for your departure.

Prior to any announcement, it is good to collect contact information of people with whom you’d like to continue your relationship at your new place of work. Connect with them on LinkedIn for the future. Most likely, you have already done this because you have been looking for a new job (not on company time!), but if you haven't, it is good to keep a contact list up to date for your reference. Depending on your company, you may be asked to leave earlier than your notice, so it is good to limit your personal belongings to one box upon departure. You do not want to be unexpectedly moving a small apartment on that last day.

Tell your immediate boss first.

We all know how rumor mills can begin when someone departs, and even if you have trusted friends in the company, it is important to first tell your immediate supervisor. This may be an opportunity to set up future notifications with immediate team members, then those who work closely with you. Set up a list of people you want to tell personally versus a company announcement, which should follow after you’ve touched base with everyone on your one-on-one list.

Be honest and respectful.

When announcing your departure, keep it short and to the point verbally, as well as in writing. Have a resignation letter in hand for your employer, thank them for the job they provided you and that you are moving on to a new opportunity. Give appropriate notice—two weeks as a bare minimum, but longer if you oversee a department. If not offered, request an exit interview. Be honest and candid with specific action items the company can do to foster a culture people want to be part of and provide notes on processes that might help the person coming in after you do their job better. This is not the time to vent all frustrations, but instead provide constructive feedback on your position and the organization.

Set the team you are leaving up for success.

If you have the opportunity to train your replacement, do it well and respectfully. I encourage open file sharing before this point, but take time to dig a bit deeper as needed. Be open to meeting after your departure for questions for a limited time, as long as it does not conflict with any company policies at your new job. Thank those around you and tell them if you enjoyed working with them—it could be a simple conversation or maybe a handwritten note. Maybe the company hasn't hired a replacement for you by the time of your departure. If that’s the case, write out as many procedures and notes as you can for the new individual to help them find their way when they come on.

Put yourself in everyone else’s shoes throughout your transition.

Leaving a job is hard. There are emotions, adjustments and opportunities for growth that come along with that. The biggest takeaway I learned is try to always put yourself in someone else's shoes. Maybe it is the new person who is taking your former role, or the new colleagues of the workplace you are going to. It's a plunge into the deep end. You may feel overwhelmed at moments, but remember you can climb out of the pool and take the high road no matter what the outcome. It's a small network out there, but stay calm and carry on!

I am excited to be part of Leadercast as vice president of operations. In this exciting role, I oversee the curation and production of all Leadercast events, while partnering with my team members who develop our content and marketing materials, and ensure our client experience is top-notch. I look forward to doing my part in filling the world with leaders worth following and am always open to any feedback you have. Don't hesitate to reach out—we would love to hear from you. Speaking of which, do you any other advice you would provide your colleagues on how to leave a job gracefully? Tell us on Twitter.

Angie Ahrens, CMP

Angie Ahrens is vice president of operations at Leadercast. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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