January 23, 2021

How to gracefully leave your employer

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“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.” – John Lennon

So the time has come for you to move on from your current employer. The reasons behind it aren’t that important as much as it is the showcase of executing your leave. In many cases, employees who are leaving are doing so with a bitter taste in their mouth, be it because of the way the employer treated them, redundant financial status or something else entirely that resulted in their decision to part ways. As always, here is a hypothetical scenario in which Mark landed a position in a different company and has to communicate his leave to the current employer. For the sake of the article, Mark wasn’t very fond of the treatment the current employer exhibited towards him. He has been working diligently for years, showing great performance and attitude, only to be left with no change to his career path or financial status to show for it. Naturally, his frustrations run very deep and his attitude changed the moment he received and accepted another offer, and not for the better of course. Fellow colleagues usually start asking questions as to why it came to this outcome and Mark used these opportunities to lash out, communicate his anger and frustrations towards his mistreatment, almost to the point of insults. His exit interview form was no better. His departure from the company was long wished for after the attitude he showed and any colleague or manager who was involved in the bitter conversation wasn’t left with many good words for him, let alone any recommendation or any chance to work together again.

Why would this be important as much as to write an article about it? Well, it’s pretty simple, really. The reputation you uphold in any social and business circle will inevitably work to or against your advantage. You’re branding yourself much like a company uses employer branding strategies to brand themselves. Let’s try and break it down.


Stop, think.

Should you be completely honest?

This might seem a bit counter-intuitive but let’s clarify. Mark brought a lot of emotions into his arguments which resulted in the endgame situation as a confrontation instead of a supposed feedback. Emotional intelligence is very important here and needs to be taken care of if we want to stay as professional as we can. The goal is to be honest but not to the point of their action influencing your ego and ego is also a big player here which we’ll touch later on. Objective outlook on the company’s policies which directly influenced your employee status is something which would be desirable and accepted as far as not to worry about sounding too harsh. Therein lies the problem though, as whenever a company policy is in question, there’s inevitably always a person behind it and that person has an aforementioned ego. This is why you should never be too honest; you have to use selective honesty to give the right feedback without potentially insulting someone who upheld those policies.


Words can hurt.

Using selective honesty

This part is critical. In basic psychology and social dynamics, we have to assume that most of the people you interact with have fragile egos. That includes managers and people in power positions who can influence policies and employee’s statuses within the companies. As with Mark’s situation, you simply cannot expect a good outcome out of a feedback conversation in which you degrade someone’s competency and work ethic. That train is gone. If you’re too rash, the opinion of the person in question about you will change, and not for the good. As with anything, and as mentioned in the beginning, your reputation means everything on the work market. Bad rep could end up in most cases be the culprit you didn’t land that fancy position you wanted, only because you couldn’t contain your anger of the past when it mattered the most. In a sense, this sounds harsh because you’re selectively not completely honest but in most situations, complete honesty won’t work in our favor. We have to incorporate empathy in the equation for the good outcome of all parties involved.

Takeaway

Feeling emotional and rebellious when switching employers won’t get you anywhere. However the employer treated you, it’s better to make amends before your departure than burning bridges and forever solidifying your chances of a good word and even the possibility of working together again. Objectively give constructive feedback to the company policies without meddling too much into your colleague’s or superior’s work ethic or character and you’re securing yourself another source of good reputation.