How to quit your job and stay friends

No matter how bad things have been, when you quit a job, part on good terms.

Australians and New Zealanders are bad at making a clean break—we’re too blunt and our work culture doesn’t help.

On the other hand, keeping perspective when you’re handed a plastic sack and given 30 minutes to empty your desk isn’t easy. Fortunately this response to a resignation is rare.

Parting on good terms is also difficult if you quit your job because of workplace problems—maybe the colleague from hell or a tyrannical boss. Even so, you must resist the temptation to even the score.

There are three justifications for making a clean break:

  • Things change. A difficult boss will eventually move on, the company might reconsider its pay policy or a spanking new espresso machine might replace the grungy instant coffee. Either way, it doesn’t do to burn your boats. You might want to work at this place again—one day.
  • Even if you are prepared to burn your boats with an employer, think of your reputation. Reports of bad behaviour during your notice period will spread through your industry. Bosses talk to each other more than you think. So do colleagues. Bad behaviour at this stage can undo all the hard work you put into establishing your professional reputation.
  • A messy split is no way to start the next stage of your life. I’m not talking about bad karma, this is more practical. As you wrap up one stage of your life, you should make a positive preparation for the next. Allowing your bitterness or anger to boil over means you lose focus.

Here are six things you should do before starting a new job.

1. Tell your existing employer you are leaving. Do this as quickly and as professionally as possible. Don’t make a big production number. Personally I prefer to do this verbally, face-to-face. If that bothers you, write a short letter – not an email.

2. Tell your existing employer why you are going. Focus on the positives – even if there are negatives. For example, say your new workplace has wonderful coffee and not whinge about the powdered Nescafe.

3. Wrap up loose ends. If you can finish projects do so. Try to ease the transition for whoever is going to fill your shoes—you never know, that person could be your boss one day.

4. Work out your notice honestly. Don’t start late and leave early or skive off to the pub. Work normal hours—of course no-one will expect you to work around the clock now you are on your way.

5. Remember to thank people for the good times – there must be some. Be positive but sincere. Colleagues will remember your parting words longer than all the thousands of words spoken while working together.

6. Close on a high note. Singers leave the best songs for their encore – try to do the same.

5 thoughts on “How to quit your job and stay friends

  1. Pingback: What to do if your existing employer makes a counter offer when you quit « Knowledge Workers

  2. Long ago I worked with a senior music industry person who among other roles had to baby-sit visiting rockstars down under.

    Now some of these people were difficult to say the least. Almost all of them had huge egos and some were real problems.

    When asked how she coped with this – the answer was that there was always someone or something about “in the band” that she could focus on and that gave her the bandwidth to make the best of some tricky times.

    I always liked that idea and have adapted it to dealing with my own workplaces.

    NZ is so small that we often end up sitting around the same table wearing different hats.

    That old song about be careful on your way up cause you just might meet them on your way back down (On Your Way Down – Allan Toussaint) springs to mind.

    When I left one place I bought them a double set of champagne glasses as my way of saying they needed to celebrate success a bit more. And of course I took some extra bubbles to the leaving “party”.

    That was a way for me to underline a point about the culture in a positive way.

    Thnaks for your very practical tips.

  3. Pingback: What to do if your existing employer makes a counter offer | Knowledge Workers

  4. Pingback: What to do if your existing employer makes a counter offer - bill bennett : knowledge workers

  5. Pingback: How to get off to a good start with an employer - bill bennett : knowledge workers

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