Is There a Right Way to Quit your Job?

Gareth Cartman

Gareth Cartman

This blog post was written in response to the Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “Is there a right way to quit your job?”

“It’s not you, it’s me”… is what you’re meant to say.

There’s no easy way to quit your job, even when it’s pleasurable. You feel that you’re going to upset someone. You feel that someone’s going to be put out by your decision to move on and “fly the nest”.

Think again, though. If your business is put out at the thought of you leaving, then perhaps it’s not “fit for business”. If they’re going to be upset at your departure, that implies that you’re more important than you thought you were, and they’re not as prepared as they should be for the inevitable departure of their employees. If they value you so highly, they don’t deserve you.

You should only be worried if they roll out the bunting.

So is there any good way of quitting your job? How can you leave an organisation with a cheery goodbye and a pat on the back – and crucially, avoid being the one who gets blamed for everything that goes wrong for the next 6 months?

You have to do it right, for a multitude of reasons – you might meet these people a few years from now. You might even need a reference.

It’s all about timing

If you’re just starting a major project, or you’re halfway through it, handing in your notice is not going to be received well. It shows you don’t care – and as a result, you won’t be cared about too much during your notice period, or after it.

And quite right, too. You’re acting like a toddler. At least they have developing brains as an excuse (or so they claim). Stick around to see the job out, and then you can hand in your notice – you’ll be all the more appreciated for doing so, and won’t be seen as burning your bridges.

It’s not all about you

Remember, everyone leaves their job at some point. Otherwise, you become a “lifer” – one of those ghosts that walk around the same company they’ve been at since they were 14, having received twelve watches, three plaques and a massive leg of ham. Nobody works for legs of ham. You always have to move on, for sanity’s sake as much as progress.

But it’s not all about you. If your departure is going to disrupt the work of colleagues, then ensure that a smooth transition is in place. Promise to see out your full notice, and train someone else up to carry on your work. Promise to complete a certain workload, and work your notice period as you would any other. Perhaps you could even offer to support the interview process for your replacement.

Again, keep that goodwill. You never know, you might be working with these people in another organisation later down the line.

Remember, some people like their jobs

If you’ve just handed in your notice, and you’re thinking of trashing the company every day, putting your feet up and tripling your coffee breaks, have a little respect. There are people all around you who are trying to get ahead in their lives and their jobs – people who may – whisper it – still like their jobs.

There may be newbies around you who haven’t developed your level of cynicism yet. Give them time to grow into it. Don’t bang on about how brilliant your new job is, and don’t bang on about how crap your current job might be.

Again, you’re being a toddler. The business hasn’t changed – you have – and it’s time for you to move on. So do it quietly, and have some respect for those who aren’t yet ready to move on, or who view the business through a different lens.

Some things you should definitely avoid

Above all, please try to avoid doing the following:

· Handing in your notice by text message
· Being overly joyous about your imminent departure
· Calling your boss names and thinking you can get away with it
· Hiding dead fish inside computer towers on your last day
· Updating your Linkedin status to “Released from prison”
· Changing your screensaver to a countdown to your last day
· Whistling the tune to “I’m free to do whatever I want” as you walk around the office

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