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5 Suggestions for Leaving With Style

5 Suggestions for Leaving With Style

    There’s something to be said for leaving a former employer with style. We’re in the middle of a time when more than a few employers are having to downsize and plenty of people who would otherwise be assured of a job are getting the axe. Just because a former employer may have directed you to the door, however, you can still walk out with your pride intact. The same holds true if you’re leaving an employer willingly. As long as you stay in the same industry, you’re guaranteed to run into people you’ve worked with in the past over and over. It’s not unheard of to return to the same company, or find a former coworker at a future employer.

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    No matter the reason you’re leaving your employer, do it with a little style and grace. You still need goodwill from your past employers — references, anyone? — and you are likely to have plenty of positive relationships at your old place of employment that are worth preserving. There are a few things you can do to make your transition a little better.

    1. Skip the theatrics

    The fact that you’re moving on to a new employer is not an excuse to engage in theatrics. I worked with one otherwise brilliant man who took the moment of his resignation as an opportunity to explain at length the faults of our employer. Aside from burning a few bridges, he ensured that the two weeks’ notice he gave turned into two weeks of sheer misery. Constructive criticism is not out of line, but there is a time and a place for it — an exit interview is usually the best choice. But theatrics can span a wide variety of actions. It seems like every employee bears some hard feelings towards a supervisor — but all in all, try to leave it at the statement that you and your former employer were not a good fit and move on. At the very least, your resume will be healthier in the long run.

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    2. Write a few thank you notes

    It’s not necessary to write a personal note to every person you worked with, but if you had a coworker or supervisor who particularly acted as a mentor or otherwise helped you along, take the time to thank them. People remember the little touches and if they’re dwelling on the thoughtful note you left, any small problems along the way will become so much water under the bridge.

    3. Tidy up your loose ends

    I’ve seen the greatest argument for leaving things organized for the next person while sitting in a waiting room: a new receptionist was obviously struggling with a mess left by her predecessor. A phone call came for that former employee and the new receptionist mentioned she had left the organization — managing to slip in a comment about how she had left the business in a difficult position. The person who comes after you will have a chance to discuss your abilities to clients, co-workers and anyone else who comes in the door. Even if you never meet your replacement, try to leave a good impression.

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    4. Network with your co-workers

    Before you leave the office for the last time, you should have the contact information of every co-worker you plan to stay in touch with. There’s nothing wrong with making sure you connect with all of those individuals online through LinkedIn or Facebook. Hopefully, you had a good relationship with your peers: these are people who you share a common interest in your industry, who will hear of new developments and job openings and generally can be good friends to have. Personally, I’m always in favor of the farewell party: it’s a clear opportunity to exchange contact information and make sure you stay in touch. And do stay in touch — this isn’t high school, when you promised to be friends forever and didn’t talk after senior year.

    5. Do something memorable on your last day

    Bake cookies. Hand out farewell cards. Do something to remind your co-workers that you will no longer be occupying the next cubicle over. For some people, this sort of action can be a matter of guaranteeing that you have that great business network or reference sealed up. It’s can be just as much a matter of saying goodbye to people who you’ve spent a lot of time with, shared stresses with and connected to. You may need that little bit of closure before moving on to your next job and it can’t hurt to have a little fun on your last day.

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    Your Exit

    The way you leave is likely to be the thing your supervisors and co-workers remember best about you. At the very least, it’s probably the most recent interaction you had with them. Make the effort to leave with a little style and you’ll find that not only do you have a number of unburned bridges in place, but you also have some pretty solid relationships worth maintaining. Don’t make your exit all about your resume, though. References and networks really aren’t everything. It’s equally important to make sure that you’re comfortable and happy about your transition. While making it absolutely clear to your boss what you think of him may feel good while you’re telling him off, but, honestly, it’s probably not a step you’ll be happy about when you finish.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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