How to gracefully exit your current organisation
Employees are shifting their jobs more frequently than ever, and this concept is specially identified in the millennial workforce today. Much like the spectrum of reasons that exist for an employee to leave a job, the effects of leaving a job are also varied. However, as anyone who has ever had done it will verify, leaving your current job is a difficult task. No matter if you are leaving it for a better opportunity, or because of a bitter feud, exiting your organisation can evoke stress you never knew existed. This stress, or the reasons of your exit, can make you prone to making mistakes which will prove fatal to your career in the long run. Years of hard work will be marred, if your exit is not handled well.
So, if you are planning to leave your current job, follow these guidelines to walk away with grace, and be remembered for your work and positive attitude, alike:
Always inform your boss/manager first. It is unprofessional if the word gets out through gossip and hearsay. Put the resignation letter in writing, and hand it over in person – not a text or phone call. Have an honest conversation, with your boss, regarding why you are leaving, and follow up the conversation with an email, copying in HR. Be ready with an answer, if your boss offers a promotion or an increment, to make you stay. The trick is to identify whether the reasons of your quitting can be resolved by increased monetary compensation; if not, it’s just a matter of time until they crop up again.
If you have been waiting to make a dramatic exit, and have been gathering pent-up frustration for a long time, you’re better off not acting on it. A heated argument, vandalising office property, slamming the door, might look an alluring option in the heat of the moment, but will do irreparable damage. You are likely to be forever branded by how you left the organisation, and that reputation will always precede you. As a thumb rule, the day you feel you are hanging by a thread, and are likely to be pushed over any second, delay the decision to intimate the boss of your resignation, for you might get confrontational. Do it the next day instead.
The Notice Period
It is only professional and polite, to inform of your exit at least a month in advance, for letting the organisation find a replacement, and set in motion the transition process. It is a flawed, yet popular notion, that the notice period is a formality and you are not really supposed to work during it, but as a matter of fact, you should work harder than ever, to wrap up pending tasks, and not leave your team in a lurch, for it reflects on your ethics more than anything. Abruptly leaving jobs will also raise doubt on your credibility and commitment, and play a spoil-sport for future opportunities.
While we are talking about the last days in the organisation, use this time to fully understand the formalities for formally exiting the organisation. From finances, severance package, documentation, and last day activities, make sure you know what to do. There is nothing more agonising than debating over trivial things on the last day of your work. Set the date for every small formality, and make sure the HR is in the loop. You might have to appear for an exit interview, or might be required to undergo other evaluations – make sure they are scheduled and sorted.
The Exit Interview and Feedback
Following the above point, if the HR or your boss wants to conduct an exit interview with you, prepare well for it. You might have to talk about things you are not comfortable talking, and straighten out any pending disagreements. Avoid the blame-game, for it usually takes two people to tango, and do not, under any circumstances trash-talk your seniors or colleagues. Your feedback should not be restricted to how things are wrong currently, but how they can be improved. Choose your words wisely!
You might not want to divulge the true reason for your exit, and that might be the best way to go. Stick to one version, which you tell everyone at work. Sure, you might not get along with anyone on your team, or your entire department, and your reasons to leave might be evident, but do not blame a single person or the ways of your boss. Furthermore, your reasons should not be condescending to the work culture, the people, the company goals – reserve these reasons for family and friends only.
The Appreciation and Thank-you
Take some time out in the last few days to catch up with friends and close acquaintances at work, even from other departments, maybe over lunch, to express your appreciation for their support. Discuss with them how your work and performance has been, and seek feedback to better it. Even if you need to leave on a short notice, this step is critical to maintain professional relationships, and cultivate cordial ties with the people you have enjoyed working with.
Do not leave pending tasks pending, and share a short plan with everyone in the team about your deliverables before you exit. If the person who will take your position is already present, do work with them, on explaining processes, introducing them to contacts, and helping them establish their work. Leaving projects incomplete, or shutting out your colleagues by not letting them in on how you worked, is likely to ensure your reputation is permanently damaged.
The Office Space
Collect all your personal belongings, and return all office properties before you exit. Do not intentionally soil office space and items, to get back at the organisation or damage the coffee machine to irritate your colleagues, if you are leaving on an angry note. Do not leave unfinished paperwork or receipts, discarded stationary items and tidy up your office space, for the next person who will occupy it.
The Last day
Reserve this day to reach out to seniors, and colleagues, and have a word with everyone you have worked with. Leaving unceremoniously is worse than leaving dramatically. If farewell parties are planned – or if even if they are a token formality – participate in them – even if you aren’t feeling up for it. Say a goodbye to everyone, and do wish them, to keep the opportunity for you to connect with them again, if needed.
Even if your exit was a hasty decision, do not hasten the process of exiting. Do not forget that the current organisation will act as your latest and most credible reference, and hence burning down bridges will do more harm than good. Additionally, chances are you might come across the same people in the future, might have to work with them, or worst case, have to go back to the same job. Take into considerations, the benefits of leaving on a good note, before you slam that door shut, and feel euphorically rebellious.