Gone are the days when people accepted jobs right out of high school or college, and remained with the company for 30 years in order to receive their prized retirement watch. Today’s generation is the exact opposite, with many holding an average of 11.3 jobs from the ages of 18 to 46 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). There is a high probability that many of you WILL leave your place of employment multiple times throughout your career.
This article isn’t designed to convince you whether or not to stay, but if WHEN you decide to leave…please do it with class. Having worked in corporate America for 16+ years, I watched far too many people leave an employer while also burning a bridge they will have trouble rebuilding in the future. No matter your reason(s) for leaving, the ultimate responsibility is up to you to do it with class. Your co-workers may have been talking about you. Your boss might not have liked you. You may have been underpaid according to your own personal valuation. There are many reasons you can list for rationalizing a decision to leave an employer on bad terms. However, I’m here to help you to break-up with your employer while keeping the bridge intact for the future.
Here are 5 tips to ensure you do it with class:
1. Know your “why.” Be able to clearly articulate with yourself, and then your supervisor, why you have made the decision to move in a different direction professionally. Knowing your why allows you to truly assess if your rationale is more emotional than professional or strategic. Knowing your why may also help you understand what to look for in your next professional opportunity.
2. Plan properly. If you want to exit a job with class, then plan properly. Your emotions may try to convince you to leave immediately; however, try to at least give the traditional two weeks notice so your employer has an opportunity to hire a replacement. If you have a highly specialized position, you may offer to remain for greater than two weeks so you can properly transition your duties. Proper planning also involves performing an analysis of your finances, health insurance and outlining your next steps.
3. Create training material. If your employer never provided documentation on how to perform your job, you can offer to provide training materials for your replacement. Not only does this assist your replacement, it gives you a basis for leaving without feeling guilty. The knowledge of certain jobs often leaves as soon as the person occupying the position walks out of the door. By documenting your knowledge, it allows a significant percentage of your experience to remain for others to learn and grow from.
4. Work hard until your last day. As your desire to hit cruise control increases during your last days with the company, please continue to work hard so you don’t place unnecessary burdens on your colleagues. Remember, most industries are small, so there is always a probability that you’ll cross paths with former bosses or colleagues at some point in the future.
5. Say Thank You. Leaving an employer that has helped you gain experience to grow from is extremely valuable. Be sure to say thank you. A simple thank you separates you from others who tend to just walk out of the door with a disgruntled attitude. Separate yourself from the rest even if you didn’t have the best relationship with your supervisor or colleagues. Good character is taking the high road even when others don’t.
There are times when going in a different direction is in the best interest for your professional career. Breaking-up with your employer doesn’t have to be a catastrophic life event. Follow the above 5 tips to ensure you do it with class.
Kenny Pugh is a Life & Relationship Strategist, Author of ‘Can You Do It Standing Up?’, Speaker, HLN Contributor, singles leader and sought-after speaker on singleness, relationships, finances and life. You can find more information about Kenny at http://www.kennypugh.com. You can follow him on Facebook at Kenny Pugh or on Twitter @mrkennypugh.