advertisement
advertisement

How to quit your job with integrity

No matter why you’re leaving an organization, you will thank yourself for leaving on good terms.

How to quit your job with integrity
[Source Photo: DanielMirer/iStock]

As the economy opens up and more employers expand their staff numbers, job seekers will encounter plenty of opportunities to grow their careers. This can be the best time for you, as an employee, to find a job you’ve always wanted, especially as companies seek out the best and brightest. However, as eager as you are to move on, when you quit, you have to be intentional about exit.

advertisement
advertisement

A Microsoft survey found 40% of people are considering leaving their current employer. Therefore, your need to fine-tune and thoughtfully roll out your exit is high. And there are specific ways to move forward from your current position that won’t leave behind a wake of destruction, which will be important for your success as you move on.

WHY IT MATTERS

Leaving your current employer at your best is important for a variety of reasons. You demonstrate you have integrity and, therefore, want to do the right thing. Moreover, it may not be immediately obvious, but your network has incredible power and taking the high road will reap significant dividends. People are highly connected, so you never know when your current coworker or boss will turn up as the contact of a new relationship you’re building. And these days, transparency is also high. Networking sites make it easy to see how people are linked and seek input about a candidate or employee.

For these reasons, everything counts, and your reputation will be amplified across intersections of contacts and connections.

advertisement

HOW TO MAKE A GRACEFUL DEPARTURE

Your job performance and behavior

For starters, you’ll want to provide the required amount of notice to your employer (by the way, for some companies, it is more than the typical two weeks). You’ll also want to perform brilliantly as you prepare to exit. You may be looking for another job while you maintain your current position or already planning on your end date. Either way, you will want to continue to contribute fully. Even if they don’t know why, people will be able to sense if you’re disengaging or pulling back. Keep your head in the game and continue to invest your best in your current work. Doing good work will contribute to your ability to seek formal recommendations and the overall sense of positivity people will have about you.

I’ll never forget working with my boss Mark early in my career. He was a senior executive in charge of manufacturing, and he was in the midst of an outster. His impending departure was the most poorly kept secret in the organization. But he continued to perform at the highest levels. His approach was inspiring for people around him and caused others to respect and appreciate him. He was a model for taking the high road and it paid off in the long-term. He ultimately grew his career in other organizations based on his strong reputation.

advertisement

Another method to having a positive impact is by ensuring you leave your projects in great shape. The adage, “leave things better than you found them,” applies for your quitting process. Complete open-ended items (so you’re not dumping these responsibilities on others, be intentional about passing on information to your successor, and be flexible about your employer’s needs.

Perhaps you have to accelerate a project so you can finish it before you exit. Or maybe you need to document best practices you’ve developed. These above-and-beyond activities will matter to your reputation. Even if you’re not leaving on your own terms, facilitating a smooth transition will contribute to your credibility and influence.

Your good-bye

advertisement

You can also demonstrate excellence by being appreciative of all you’ve learned. Things at your job may not have been idyllic, but chances are you’ve still gleaned something. Express gratitude to your coworkers and focus on what you’ve gained. Perhaps you’ve learned how not to lead, which in turn, will contribute to your effective leadership down the road.

And maybe you’ve developed your ability to handle conflict because of strife on your team. From this experience, it’s possible you’ve gathered wisdom about how to assess company cultures that are the best fit for you. Any of these are positive elements of your experience and feeling grateful will influence your positive approach to parting ways.

Furthermore, be sure to say goodbye to everyone, rather than slinking out the door (or not saying anything in the company chat). People want to be able to say farewell and wish you luck; oftentimes, closure is an important part of relationships. As you leave, consider how you can help those you’re leaving. Your perspective is unique and especially valuable, since it’s based on real experiences and is still fresh. Even a terrific company can benefit from ideas about how they can continue to improve, so share your impressions openly—and tactfully—when asked for feedback in or in exit interviews.

advertisement

Your long-term thinking

Upon your departure, also consider the future. This is the time to ask for recommendations from people you have had positive relationships with. Share your contact information so you can maintain connections. There are plenty of stories about people who kept in touch with contacts and received tips on new opportunities even years later. Remain professional about how you talk about your time with the company; whether or not it was a great experience, you’ll want to express yourself with grace. How you describe your tenure will reflect on you as much as on the organization, so choose a diplomatic approach when you can.

In the same way you did your best while you were working there, you’ll also want to do your best as you leave. It’s not only the right thing to do, it will bode well for your future and your credibility.

advertisement

Tracy Brower, PhD, is a sociologist focused on work-life, happiness and fulfillment. She works for Steelcase. She is the author of two books, The Secrets To Happiness At Work and Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work.

advertisement
advertisement
advertisement