Jobs are a lot like relationships. Sometimes, it just comes time to break it off. Perhaps your financial responsibilities have increased and you need a higher salary. Maybe your work environment has changed, and it’s no longer a productive place for you to be. Perhaps you’re moving, or going back to school, or simply looking for a new career.
Handling such a situation can be awkward. While it may be tempting to storm out in a blaze of triumphant defiance, it’s best to use a more discreet approach.
Here’s how to move on without burning bridges.
You’re debating leaving the company. To help make up your mind, you:
a) Discuss it with everyone you meet to try and gain a broad range of advice.
b) Mention it to co-workers on your coffee break.
c) Carefully weigh the pros and cons on your own, perhaps with some input from a trusted friend outside the company.
Best bet: c)
Why it’s wise: You never know who might overhear your contemplations, so until you’ve made a decision, it’s best to keep things quiet. Chatting on the job is a particularly risky move, as employment-related gossip can spread like wildfire. Nothing makes you look more unprofessional to your employer than discussing these things behind his or her back. Think it over, call in a close pal (not a co-worker!) for advice, and proceed from there.
You’ve decided to go. Who do you tell first?
a) Your best friend on the job.
b) Your supervisor or manager.
c) The president of the company.
Best bet: b)
Why it’s wise: As a general rule, it’s best to make things official with your immediate superior before taking the message elsewhere. Your manager or supervisor is there for a reason – to manage or supervise the activity of employees, including their comings and goings. As such, going above him or her to the company chief is a bad idea. Not only will it burn the pride of your immediate superior, it may make you appear dishonest or conniving to your boss. And no matter how much you want to gab with your co-worker, the message can wait until things are official.
Giving notice, finishing up the job, and saying goodbye the right way
How much notice are you giving before you leave?
a) Mere minutes, baby – you’re outta there!
b) The customary two weeks – it’s the standard for a reason.
c) A month or more – you’re in no rush.
Best bet: b) or c), depending.
Why it’s wise: This is a tough one, highly dependent on the particular situation you’re in. If you have a far-sighted plan, and you know it will take the company some time to find the right replacement, it would be courteous to let your superiors know of your intent well in advance. However, if your decision came out of a rapidly changing circumstance – for example, you’ve been offered a better position that must commence as soon as possible – two weeks is considered adequate warning. Quitting on the spot is never, ever a good idea – at least if you ever want to call in a favour (like a reference) from the organization again.
You’ve given your notice, and are now in your final period in the position. How do you conduct yourself in the workplace?
a) Conduct business as usual – with a bit of downtime to clean your desk and go to farewell luncheons.
b) Grumble frequently, count down your days, and watch the clock.
c) Spend the remaining time left goofing off with your workplace pals – after all, your time with them is numbered.
Best bet: a)
Why it’s wise: You don’t want to be remembered by your co-workers as a goof-off or a sourpuss. You may not want to be there, but the fact is, you’re still being paid to do a job – and not doing it isn’t acceptable, even if you are on your way out. It’s your last day. How do you say farewell to your boss?
a) Coldly. He or she isn’t your boss any more, so a quick “goodbye” should suffice.
b) Emotionally. Hugs, kisses, tears, the whole works. It’s a sad day for both you and the company, so why not let it show?
c) Warmly. A firm handshake, with heartfelt thanks and a cheerful farewell.
Best bet: c)
Why it’s wise: You want to leave on an upbeat tone. An abrupt departure is tacky and rude, and leaves a bad impression of you. However, an hourlong blubber-fest is also inappropriate for the workplace. Smile, say kind words (no matter how hard it may be to do so), and be sure to get your boss’ contact info to nail that reference.
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