How to call it quits without feeling like a quitter
‘I feel bad, my team needs me, I cannot just get up and leave like that’
Leaving a job is never the easiest of decisions, especially when you have been in the same job position for a certain time, and have developed a fair degree of attachment to your environment.
With late nights and crises overcome together, and your team becomes your second family, your office, a place way too familiar.
And then, by choice or because of external circumstances, the time is up to leave the nest for the next new adventure.
Whether you are angry and cannot wait to slam the door; or filled with excitement at the idea of your new gig, or anywhere in between, there is still an art and form to say sayonara in a constructive and respectful way.
Pick and choose what works for you!
Be clear on why you are leaving
First things first, spend some time reviewing the reasons why you are leaving this job.
And to preface my argument here, let me remind you of this universal truth: anger is not a good adviser, it’s not your best friend when it’s kept unchecked.
Repeat this to yourself as many times as you need.
Why am I insisting?
Because any job will have its ups and downs. The decision to leave should not be taken lightly, i.e. not as an impulse.
Any career next step should be seen as a new milestone in that longer-term project that is your career. It is worth spending time thinking about the reasons why you are leaving and why you are choosing that new assignment.
Being fed-up? having outgrown the position? not being aligned with your management goals or with your Company’s values? Or on the other hand, you might be leaving because the new position is a step up and will constitute an asset in your skill-building strategy.
All are legit reasons.
The important part is to see your exit as a choice and a strategic move on your part, with an aim that is aligned with your vision, giving yourself a better work environment, more opportunities, more growth.
What you haven’t solved in the ‘before’ will carry over in the ‘after’ until the lesson is learned.
Ensure you have learned what you needed from that job, so you are not carrying any unnecessary baggage into your next position.
Know it’s OK to leave: overcome the syndrome of misplaced loyalty
Each man or woman for themselves? That might not be the case for everyone.
How many employees stay at their Company because they are loyal to a team or a manager? or because they still feel they owe it to their Company for taking a chance on them and helping them during a difficult time?
Well, I am going to ask you to get over it.
Your Company would not hesitate to lay you off when it comes to its own survival. Nothing personal there, it’s how business works.
Same thing for you. When an opportunity shows up for you, consider your own interests first. And know this: your team will survive without you and the company will adapt.
It doesn’t mean not taking into consideration the repercussions of your decisions. If you are parting ways in good terms, you can choose to be part of the transition. Bringing teammates up to speed, helping your replacement, etc.…
Consider this your way to say ‘thank you’ and choose to close the door behind you with pride.
Be assertive and constructive and don’t burn bridges with your management
Talking about closing doors… don’t burn bridges. Just don’t.
You can be as angry as you want at your future ex-employer for many reasons, but here again, keep in mind your interests in the long run.
Industries tend to be tight-knit communities. This is how reputations can be made … or broken.
Whatever the reasons behind the breakup, your job is to stay professional and to detach from your emotionality when it’s not helpful to you.
Telling your ex-boss that they are a […] and a […] might feel good in the moment, but it might backfire.
You never know who will show up in your career in a year or more. I am sure you heard these stories before when a foe in a previous position of yours becomes your boss, right?
Know however that it doesn’t mean that you have to shut up. You can still be assertive and constructive.
But as the saying goes, don’t say anything that you might regret later…
Rehearse your resignation letter and your exit interview
Resignation letters and exit interviews are an ‘on the record’ event. Period.
Anything you write or say can be used against you and / or against the Company. So be careful what you wish for here.
Like with the exit interview with your boss, you can speak your mind, positively or negatively, as long as it is constructive and fair.
Always ask yourself whether what you will be saying is useful for you or for others. Then you can make a conscious choice, i.e. not out of anger or resentment, but either because you wanted to express your gratitude; or because you genuinely think some things needed to be said.
That’s also the professional way to close that door.
Keep in touch with your older mates
As you are starting your new professional life with a lot of ‘new’, new job to adapt to, new hours, and a steep learning curve, it can be tempting to move on and never look back.
Not always a smart move!
Remember 2 important facts:
1/ industries tend to be tight-knit communities.
2/ always keep in mind your long-term career objectives.
How does that translate? By taking care of your network.
Give back, and help those who helped you in the past. Pay it forward by helping others, keeping eyes and ears open for opportunities for yourself and for others.
A network is not something that you activate only when you need something.
Consider it as a form of professional ‘friendships’. Like your personal acquaintances, it needs consideration and nurturing.
Your next step in your career will not happen in isolation. There will always be value in connecting with others.
Do not listen to your buyer’s remorse
And one last thought from me. Don’t listen to your buyer’s remorse.
After a few weeks of honeymoon in your new job, you will start seeing issues and crises.
Your brain will show you how green the grass was in your previous position.
It’s a partial lie!
It’s tempting to think it was all rainbows and unicorns in your previous job, but remember it wasn’t. There were some nice perks in it for you, sure!
Now tis the time to remind yourself why you left (and now you see why it’s important to be clear on why you are leaving in the first place!).
And one final point: whatever decision you made is the right one, as of right now. Learn what you can from where you are, and once that lesson digested, you can start looking forward to the next step up.
From the Mayo Clinic: Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper