A few weeks ago, Harry—an eight-year member of the Forster-Thomas team and one of our lead consultants who we depended on to run so much and guide so many subordinates—quit with no warning. So why do we still love him? Why is the door always open for him to return? Why would we always give him a great reference?
It’s the way he did it that counts: with complete authenticity, grace, and appreciation.
He made sure to send a resignation letter that explained his struggle openly—a desire to go after a career change and take an offer that utilized skills he felt he had but could never be applied to in his role at our company. In his heart, he’s a filmmaker. Truth is, he’s a damn good one, and we always knew that. He was also open about the fact that he wanted to take a risk and go after an opportunity to really be one. Can you blame a guy for that? Nope. Opportunity knocked. Do I think it was a mistake financially? Yup. But life is not always about a paycheck. And that’s what he basically said in his resignation letter, plus the fact that he loved working with us and gave us eight, count ’em eight, great years!
And to make matters better, he made sure to complete all of his work before he left. He met with my partner and me in person, went over what was done, what was unfinished—and how and when he’d be available even after he left to answer any questions.
So you’re definitely quitting? And they haven’t made you an offer you can’t refuse? Here’s what you can do to make sure the door doesn’t hit you on the ass on your way out:
*Spill it! Be honest when you take a job—especially one that pays well and requires training. Let them know after you get the offer, up front (that means before you formally accept), that you have this “other thing” you’ve always wanted to do and that you’re doing it on the side. Then it’s really no big shock if the side gig becomes your day job and you do leave down the line. Ah…honesty. Works every time.
*Were you raised by wolves?! You know your mother taught you to say thank you. Don’t be like our former employee Katie. Hopefully you grew in that job you’re leaving and it helped you get the next gig. Let your bosses know in that exit interview, letter, or before your last day, what you learned. Skills you didn’t have before. And let your boss or supervisor know how she helped you grow—even if he or she was an ass (always take the higher ground). Be specific. Make your growth something big picture like you learned how to manage during a deadline and include something on-the-ground like how you were given an opportunity to master Windows 8 or taught to value a property.
*Pour some sugar on me. Even if it wasn’t the best place to work or your boss wasn’t that lovely, always take the high road and make it a personal thanks. Stop by, handwrite a note or, at the very least, send an email from your personal account and let them know how difficult the decision was to leave him or her. Supervisors and bosses are people too. Doesn’t matter if they don’t respond the way you want them to. Remember, you represent you. It’s just who you are.
*Clean your room and put away your toys. That means make every attempt to finish what you started before you leave. A client meeting. A filing system. A report. Make sure you let your coworkers and your boss know where everything is, what you’ve completed, and what’s ongoing. Leave them with the tools to get it done and make it easy for the next guy or gal to come in and hit the ground running.
After all, its what your Auntie Evan always says: leave people and things better than you found them. That’s how you don’t burn bridges.
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