When planning to leave your current job remember this one rule: “how you finish is just as important as how you start”, therefore finish well and exit gracefully. They say that first impressions count, we should also add that final impressions are lasting. While employed we tend to focus on all the factors that will win us respect, influence, favor, power, acceptance and inclusion with others. These factors are important and helpful when starting a new job, a project, networking, or selling. But what happens when the project is over or you are ready to leave a job. How do you make your exit work to your benefit? Your exit can be beneficial in many ways such as a
a good character reference;
a door opener for another project;
easing transitions from one job to another;
winning you instant respect and creditability;
landing a new client;
leaving a legacy of your contributions.
We can exit gracefully from a job or volunteer organization by doing some preparations that will make our exit smooth and impressions last. The following are some ways to exit anything job or project with grace.
Let people know they mattered by remembering to say thank you.
If the organization or project has a small number of people consider giving out thank you cards that are personally addressed to everyone that you have worked with. In the card say at least one way that person has positively impacted your life or work. If you are not coming up with any positive impact, then share with them a positive characteristic you admire about them. Try not to be superficial or repetitive because your co-workers may share the card with one another after. If the organization is large then you may send one card or letter with a general but meaningful, well thought-out, even inspiring thank you. Feel free to use poetry (remember to cite the author) or quotes to make it inspirational.
When possible leave projects or task completed.
Getting someone else to understand your thinking or style of work after you have left is difficult. Therefore as much as possible complete outstanding projects or task, clearing them off the to do list for the next person coming after you and helping your co-workers to not feel left and over burden because of your departure.
Leave documentation to help the next person after you.
If you have ever been employed by a fast pace, high intensity, unorganized company you will appreciate the benefits of this tip. Leave a paper trail for the next person so they can quickly pick up where you left off. This does not have to replace the company’s procedures manual; it should be a simple document helping with the unwritten ways of doing things. It should help the next person locate things, contacts and other vital information that is not easily found.
Exit humbly and resist the urge to share opinions about what needs to be changed.
We can easily be so tempted on the way out to tell people how we really feel about them and what the company is doing wrong. Do not do it. You will not be around to defend your opinions or positions so do not share what can be taken out of context. Sharing your opinions of how the company is headed to hell in a hand basket without you will only serve to make you look arrogant and make your co-workers angry and feel abandoned. Your opinion may be asked at the exit interview or by a well meaning leader, if you must share, give ideas and solutions with your critique. Remember balanced evaluation not narrow-minded criticism.
Making a lasting final impression is about what you leave the job with not what you take away from it. So make your last impression as memorable as your first and it will pay off in the future.