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Building Relationships as You Leave Your Job

Leaving your job can be a positive transition for everyone involved. You have the power to ensure that leaving your current employer strengthens your relationship and reputation rather than destroying it.

Remember the day you started your job? Most likely you were welcomed with open arms, introduced to co-workers and supported as you eased into your role. There was an air of excitement and the experience was a positive one.

And now its time to move on.There is a way to leave with the same collegiality and positive atmosphere. There is a way to strengthen bridges rather than burn them behind you. Really!

Transitions need to be carefully planned and thought through. It is important to give as much notice as possible (3-4 weeks for a professional position). Consider others' vacation schedules and workload distribution. Think through what needs to be done and develop a transition plan. Your employer will appreciate your thoughtfulness. After all, you know your job better than anyone else and your supervisor should welcome ideas on how best to recruit a replacement and transition your work.

Feelings need to be considered as well as the practical aspects of leaving your employer. As with any ending, there is a period of shock and grief. Be prepared for this, both within yourself and with your co-workers, supervisor and colleagues. As we all know, people express grief differently. One colleague may wish you well, another may express anger and yet another may burst into tears. Even if you are leaving because of difficult circumstances, there will be feelings about your leaving. Take time to listen and talk with your co-workers and supervisor. To exit gracefully, you will need their support.

Resist the urge to focus on the negative. You are leaving for a reason. It is best to focus on the positive aspects of your employment during your transition time. Thank the people who hired you and those who mentored and supported you. If you decide to discuss your disenchantment with your work, carefully plan a constructive way to do this. It may be that you save your suggestions for an exit interview with the human resource department. If you are feeling angry and resentful about your employment, consider talking it over with family and friends before resigning. If there are extenuating circumstances, a visit to an employee assistance counselor, may help you deal with your negative feelings and plan your successful transition.

Allow for ceremonies. With any transition, marking the ending of a period of employment is important. Allow your co-workers to have a farewell party for you or go to lunch with them. Gracefully accept cards and remembrances. Take time to write to those who have supported you in this period of employment, thank them, and let them know how to contact you after you leave.

Organize, Organize, Organize. Take a moment and think of the person that will follow you and take over your workload. Organize it, tie up all loose ends possible, and make your files and notes easy to understand and locate.

Transition relationships. Make a list of your cases or projects, indicate what is needed next and suggest a transition plan.You have important contacts and it is gracious to introduce those people to the person who will be taking your place.

Take care of yourself. Interviewing for a new position, accepting it, giving notice at your old position and managing a positive, graceful transition is not easy. It will require considerable physical, mental and emotional energy. Allow for a vacation between jobs. Reflect on your last job and what it meant for you and set some goals for the job that you will soon start. Make sure you take time to rest and renew your spirit.
Arrive refreshed at your new job. Hit the ground running! They will be ready for you and expect you to be enthusiastic. Make sure you have the mental and emotional energy necessary to meet new people and learn new systems. Celebrate your new beginning!


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