Originally created 08/25/02

Stress the positive when leaving job

When leaving a job, whether you are downsized or just leave for personal reasons, the advice is the same: be as positive as possible.

How much notice to give varies, but should be at least as long as it will take to replace you. Notice should be given in-person to your immediate supervisor.

Plan carefully what you will say and stick to it. Why you are leaving should be couched in the most positive terms possible, such as "this new job is a rare opportunity," or you need to "spend more time with your children."

Deliver a written resignation at the same time you give your notice. Include the effective date but exclude your reasons for leaving. It would be appropriate to express gratitude for the opportunity, and if not too injurious to the truth, a little praise for your supervisor and the organization.

If you are a valued employee and leaving is a surprise to your boss, there may be an emotional or confrontational response. Attempt to allay the vacancy fears by outlining what you will do to assure an orderly and timely transition of responsibilities to your successor.

Praising your supervisors' leadership, managerial, and mentoring abilities may help warm the otherwise ensuing chilly environment.

In some circumstances this may require an Academy Award-winning performance, but it is a sensible thing to do. Complete all outstanding projects and make a comprehensive list of dos, don'ts, and helpful tips for your successor. Also offer to be available to assist should something arise.

Now you are in a position to ask your supervisor for a "to whom it may concern" letter of recommendation for your files so that you will not have to ask later, when attitudes change and memories dim.

Return all company property and get a receipt. Speak to all of your coworkers and thank them for their assistance during your tenure. Encourage them to keep in touch because such contacts may be useful later.

An exit interview may be requested by the human resources department. Assurances of confidentiality may be given in return for honest assessments of your boss, the organization, and policies.

Some hold the view that you owe constructive criticism to the organization to help it improve.

Others suggest that it normally is futile and often hazardous to attempt to right the wrongs upon departure.

Whatever your view, resist the temptation to sing a verse or two of Johnny Paycheck's Take This Job and Shove It. Feel free, however, to do so loudly in your car as you leave.

Dalton Brannen is a senior professional in human resources and professor of management at Augusta State University's College of Business Administration.


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