Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with many talented people who knew their jobs well and did great work in planning the strategies of the work and executing the day to day duties of their work responsibilities. The rarest of feats I’ve seen people manage to pull off is finishing out their job well once they have decided to move to a new opportunity. For a variety of reasons, either because of distractions around possible pending moves or simply because they emotionally check out, it seems most employees do not finish well with their jobs. This hurts an organization in that it elongates the lack of productivity and progress on important work from simply the interim time of the position being open to also include the last few weeks of the former person still being in the role. As followers of Christ we have responsibilities in exercising integrity in all matters and how we leave a job is a great opportunity to go beyond what others might do in the same situation. By thinking through and putting these steps into place one can set themselves and their organization up well to prepare for a transition in positions and responsibilities.
As followers of Christ we have responsibilities in exercising integrity in all matters and how we leave a job is a great opportunity to go beyond what others might do in the same situation.
Provide plenty of notice to your supervisor: While it’s not a conversation most people don’t look forward to it’s important to make sure your supervisor has an ample amount of time to prepare for your transition. A minimum of two weeks if considered good protocol and, depending on your responsibilities and how they might be handled in the transition, this is an overall good rule to follow. In some circumstances you may want to give your supervisor a little more time so that they can have a good transition plan in place to follow your announcement. One should also be aware that one can “overstay their welcome” in many situations by announcing they are leaving too far in advance. Every situation has its own nuances and one should be prepared for eventualities ranging from a supervisor asking someone to delay leaving to a supervisor letting someone go on the spot. Every person must think through their own situation carefully and try to approach it with the highest degree of integrity that they can.
Articulate priorities to supervisor: In this conversation the person leaving should have already thought through their exit plan and the work that will need to be covered. While each supervisor is certainly free to decide on next steps most appreciate hearing a departing staffer talk through what is priority work for their remaining time and having their assurance it will be done. It can be a huge blessing to your supervisor for you to have given thought to this and help to give them a running start on transition.
Leave a trail and/or train replacement: One of the most aggravating things in an employee transition is losing internal intellectual property. This bites an organization when the open position creates a vacuum of knowledge regarding how ongoing work gets done and where important documents are kept. Take the initiative with your supervisor in isolating what tasks need to continue to happen while the position is open and who will be responsible. Once you know who these individuals are take time and train them to keep things moving until the position is filled again.
Wish people well/Give a tactful exit interview: No matter how you feel about how you treated while in the organization intentionally choose to take the high road and wish both the individuals and the organization well. The professional world is not quite as big as we think it might be and I’ve seen people who intentionally created hard feelings on the way out get hindered by them later on down the road. The person one burns today might be the person who (or has significant influence with) the person deciding whether or not to hire them in the future. Wishing your cohorts well and utilizing any exit interviews to share tactfully (yet remaining candid and honest) any ideas for improvement is an important aspect of exiting well.
Be the hardest working person there until the end date: Boiled down the biggest reason people don’t finish well in organizations is because they simply see it as an excuse to check out. With no worries about promotions or increases in play then many people will not see the point of finishing work that would normally be a part of their responsibilities. To stand out and finish well the person leaving should seek to be the hardest working person in the organization for the remainder of their time there. This communicates not only integrity on one’s part but also that the people remaining behind are important and valued by the one leaving. This mentality alone will leave a strong and positive impression of your character in the organizations.
Boiled down the biggest reason people don’t finish well in organizations is because they simply see it as an excuse to check out.
As followers of Christ we are commanded to go “the second mile” in our service to others (Mt. 38-42). This leaves us no excuse in how we plan to leave an organization. Whether one felt valued or not, treated fairly or unfairly, or even duly respected an opportunity to move is not also an opportunity for vengeance. Seek to exit in a way that helps those remaining behind and leaves a strong impression of positive character on your part.