How to Leave a Job Without Burning Bridges

So, I’ve alluded to the fact that I’m going to be leaving my job soon. I’m still not quite ready to get into the long explanatory post, but I thought it might be a good idea to talk about how to actually get to the point that you can walk out the door and not look back.

Of course you could always throw your stuff in a box, curse out management and storm out. However, while I’m sure that it must be satisfying, it’s pretty much never a good idea to leave smoldering fires in your past because they could always come back to bite you in the butt.

I’ve found that no matter how horribly you’re treated, it is always best to take the high road and leave things with as much class as possible. Do you really want to leave a legacy of people talking about how much mess you left for your successor? In my opinion, it would be so much better to have them impressed that you made the transition as easy as could be.

When I found out that I had 6 weeks left at my current position, I created a “Transition Plan” that would chart out exactly how I plan to transfer over my responsibilities on a weekly basis.

Here are some tips for your own Transition Plan:

  • Remove anything personal from your work computer. This includes cute photos of your dog that you’ve been using as a screen saver, any random personal files that you’ve saved on your desktop, and any non-business emails that you might have sent from your work email account.
  • Create a list of projects that are currently in progress and indicate whether you’ll be completing them before you leave or who will be taking over. Schedule a time to brief the person who will be taking on the work in advance of your leaving so that they have plenty of time to ask you questions. Don’t take on any new work if you can help it!
  • If you’re in a marketing position like me, review all of your printed items to see if anything is running low and needs to be reordered. It’s also helpful to create a list of what is printed at each printing company with your rep’s contact information readily available.
  • If there are any programs for which you’re the only user, create instructions on how to compete needed tasks using the programs. This should help them get by until someone new is hired for the position (or until the new person is up to speed).
  • Meet with your HR manager. Some health insurance plans can go with you (like AFLAC plans), and will need to be switched to bill you directly. Other plans, like health insurance, will expire at the end of the month. You will have the choice to continue the plan through COBRA or to purchase your own plans (of course, if you’re leaving for another position, you’ll most likely have health insurance through the new company). They will also be able to give you the information on any severance packages and how to sign up for unemployment.
  • Go through all your login username and passwords and either change them to the new contact or make them general enough that you can leave them behind.
  • Start to “Fade Out” – Remove your name from the company’s website and/or collateral. Email your contacts that you will be leaving the company and send them the new person’s information.  Leave a “Frequently Contacted” list for your successor.
  • You’ll want to clean out your office towards the very end of your time. Take personal pictures off walls, clean off your bookshelves and take home private property, bring home your iHome… all that good stuff. Also, don’t’ forget to turn in your final expense report so that you can get reimbursed for anything that the company owes you.

You may be asking yourself why I would possibly want to make the transition easy if I’m losing my job. I admit, a part of me would much rather let the place crash and burn the moment I walk out the door. However, I have worked my butt off for almost exactly six years to make my marketing department a success. The last thing I want is for all my hard work to go down the drain.

So I’m keeping it classy and holding my head high on my way out. Hopefully karma will recognize this and hook me up with an incredible opportunity in the near future.

* By the way, when I was searching for that Anchorman photo I came across a surprising number of Ron Burgundy tattoos. Weird! I love Will Ferrall as much as the next gal, but I don’t know if I’d want one of his characters on my body for the rest of my life!

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One thought on “How to Leave a Job Without Burning Bridges”

  1. Julie,
    Congrats on turning this very life-changing event into a learning lesson for the rest of us (and maybe possibly yourself :)). We never know how we’ll react to a situation until we find ourselves right smack in the middle of it… this blog only proves that you, a responsible adult, are removing the emotions from what seems like a very personal trauma and putting it into the impersonal perspective it deserves. No doubt your company sat around and said what a horrible person you are, it was probably the hardest decision they have ever made in regards to business. But, as a very wise mentor to me once said…. “it’s just business.” Hard to internalize when it’s also your life.

    I commend you on taking the high road. i

    Good luck!

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