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CAREER MOVE: HOW TO QUIT A JOB WITHOUT BURNING BRIDGES
Having changed jobs from one company to another several times, here’s a summary of what I have learnt:
- Keep your focus, enthusiasm and energy levels high. Once you are clear in your mind that you plan to quit, before you mention it to anyone, or send in your letter of resignation, put in your best work. During the period when you are working out your notice period, work like you have not resigned. This would raise your stock value when you eventually leave. It is best to change job when ovation would be loud. I once worked in a company that was in crisis, and I had a rocky relationship with some top leadership team members because we disagreed on the way things were being run. At some point, the rumour mills churned out that I was on the ‘hit list’ to be ‘restructured’ out of the company. Despite that, I kept my focus and in the days leading to when I planned to resign, I had the opportunity to lead some projects that exposed me to the leadership team in more positive light. As a result, when I put in my letter of resignation, I was requested not to and asked what changes needed to be made to make me stay. (I did leave though, and got a good goodbye ‘handshake’ as well. Smile)
- Keep a positive attitude. Even if you are genuinely unhappy about the way things are in the workplace, give your feedback in a non-abrasive and professional manner that projects a sincere desire to make the organization better. Don’t get personal. Each time I left a job, I gave feedback to key stakeholders about what I felt was great and not-so-good about the organization. They were receptive to this and it made them believe that I cared about the progress of the company (which I did, by the way. Smile).
- Be humble and patient.This is a build on keeping a positive attitude. At times, when a person has resigned, he may be treated like a pariah by some. Swallow your pride (pride never choked anyone!), and be patient.
- Resolve any existing conflicts and reconcile. Strive to be on good terms with everyone. Work to resolve any conflict that you have with anyone. Try hard not to leave with any bad blood. As far as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone. Be proactive about this and be prepared to be the one that first stretches out the hand of reconciliation. Take it on the chin if your handshake is not reciprocated. Let go of your ego.
- Send out a ‘goodbye for now, see you later’ mail. This helps to cement that fact that you would like to stay in touch and that there are no hard feelings. The mail may be sent to everyone across the organization, or selectively to relevant people. Within that mail, be positive and include your forwarding contact details.
- Stay in touch. Check in periodically with former colleagues. I am in a privileged position where I am in touch with most former colleagues without any hang-ups. Most of my career moves have been facilitated by people with whom I had previously worked with in different companies. Plus former colleagues have given positive references when background checks were made unknown to me. I know people who have returned to work in, or do business with companies they had left because they had kept in touch and in harmony. Difficult as it might be sometimes, don’t burn the bridge.
- Original article first appeared in Gem magazine.
Author – Lampe Omoyele