4 Steps To Leaving Your Job Gracefully

We’ve all left a job. career-transition

Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, leaving your organization or position is a commonality we all share at some point.  The difference is how each person handles that transition.

For many employees, especially those who voluntarily resign, leaving is a process they go through.  It could involve months of thinking about it and planning out each detail. For those employees who are terminated though, they may or may not have much warning.  Either way, it’s important to realize the impact of behavior during the transition time.  After all, it’s part of the legacy you leave and what you were known for at work.

In a column in Harvard Business Review, On Stepping Down Gracefully, Robert Sutton describes the importance of this transition time for CEOs who step down or who take on roles with different responsibility. Like us, a CEO has to think about the message they send when they are asked to resign or if they are choosing to retire to a chairmanship.  The impact of behavior during those “peak” moments in a career are critical to how colleagues and even the successor remember the person who is leaving.  There are no real benefits to let hurt feelings taint the departure.  All that does is create enemies and burn bridges that may be needed in the future.

The same holds true for promotions.  Whether you’re leaving your current role for a promotion in your current department, leaving your department for another in the organization, or leaving your organization for an opportunity for a larger role at a different company, do so with grace.  The way you treat colleagues will have a great influence on how you are perceived in the future.

  • Tie up loose ends on issues-  Make it easy for your successor to step in.
  • Transition projects to capable leaders- By giving that leader all the information he or she will need to take over the project you will help ensure that the project will not be derailed as a result of your resignation or promotion.
  • Show respect-  The way you treat your colleagues, boss, clients and anyone else in the organization you come into contact with will be the last memory they have of you.  Make it a good one.
  • Give performance feedback to members of your team-  This is a critical action yet one that most people miss as they leave.  Without your input as a leader, often the incumbent will not have enough knowledge to complete the annual appraisal for that year and your staff will be the ones to pay the price.

What are other key things you have done as you’ve transitioned out of roles?  Be sure to share those in the comments.