Several months ago a colleague from work decided to leave Austin and move home. Her departure was actually the impetus for this series on transitions.
Leaving a job is often a gut wrenching experience, while other times it is a very positive experience. The truth is that it can be either, but it should be something we prepare for before we actually leave our jobs. And during the time of departure we can set the stage for future successes.
Understand, I don’t speak about this from the perspective of someone who has changed jobs frequently. I am one of those strange people who sees a job as an expression of a calling, and staying put has been my habit.
I have led teams where we saw people come and go frequently (by virtue of short term job assignments of 2 months to 2 years). And I one thing I have observed is that there are times when people don’t leave well, while there are other times when people leave their position in a company exceptionally well.
The Good Stuff
My contention is that leaving well positions you to be more likely to succeed in your next job. Here’s why:
- We usually take habits with us — If we had habits that made our work challenging at the old job, we frequently take them with us, usually unconsciously. If we leave on a positive note, rather than a negative one, we have the potential to take the good habits with us, and leave the old ones behind.
- We are more than the sum total of our experiences -- While our experiences certainly impact us, and can, over time, even shape us, the evidence is fairly clear that we are more than just a bundle of emotions responding to outside stimuli. We, as humans, have amazing capacity for clear and even critical thinking.
- We are not cut off from relationships in the same way we once were – I realize this is a double edged sword. The connected world we are a part of makes it possible to maintain connections to people across the globe, especially the people we worked with. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, not to mention POEM (Plain Old Email — yes, I just made that up). If we leave well, we can continue to draw on those relationships for future career related matters (it’s called networking).
The Not So Good Stuff
When we transition out of a position at a company on less than ideal terms, we may be setting the stage for future failures on our part.
- At some point we may need references – We may find ourselves looking for a new position at some point and need positive references. If we leave a job on a poor note we can pretty much expect nothing in terms of glowing reviews. I recall many years ago having spent a great deal of time coaching a new recruit in preparation for what I thought would be a successful tenure at a position. I was shocked 5 weeks in when the wheels fell off that cart! I was even more shocked when they dared to ask me for a good reference for their next job. I couldn’t honestly give a positive reference.
- Habits can be hard to change – Remember me mentioning habits up the page? Over time if we see behaviors in multiple jobs coming out repeatedly, it may be our own habits that persist. It will take significant effort to get past them, but, the good news is, they don’t have to keep us bound up. We can “recreate” ourselves, at least as far as work goes (and in some ways even as people).
- Negativity breeds negativity – We live in a world where far too many people act rudely or harshly with others as a simple matter of course. I don’t believe that makes the world a better place. Being disagreeable, being rude, being belligerent doesn’t make us the kind of person who will succeed in life and our careers in 99.999% of people (Steve Jobs perhaps being the exception!)
Well, this has gone on longer than I thought it would. I am sure I have not satisfied everyone with this. My purpose was simply to say that it is possible to transition out of one job and into another without lobbing grenades, and in such a way as to be positioned for success.
What about you? Have you left a job well? Have you seen others who have done so? What can be learned from leaving a company on good terms? Why not leave a comment?