September 25, 2013

Be the Best Quitter You Can Be!

 young woman throws upwards paper documentBreaking up is hard to do, and so is quitting. Some people dread quitting to the point that they’ll stick around in a job that they hate, just to avoid that 20-minute conversation. Others look at quitting as some sort of betrayal or failure. The fact remains that sometimes (most times) it just has to be done. Unless you’re still slingin’ cokes at the skating rink, odds are you’ve had to quit at least once, and you’ll have to quit again.

Quitting is just a part of business and life. While employees can’t predict or control the way that their employer will react to their decision to leave the company, they can control the impression they leave. There is no black and white when it comes to professional courtesies, so this can be rocky ground. Here are a few things to consider when making the move toward the door:

Shut Your Trap

It can be hard to keep from voicing plans to leave with co-workers. These are the people that we spend the most time with, and forge relationships with, but office gossip can muddy the waters quickly. Water cooler talk gets around fast, and there’s no closing Pandora’s box once it’s opened. If and when word gets back to the higher-ups, employees looking to leave could be looking at more time unemployed than they had anticipated. As a manager, finding out from a different source that an employee is planning on leaving can be insulting, and the next step will be to find a replacement. If that replacement is found before the employee is financially ready to move on, hard times could be ahead.

You Still Need Them

When employees start getting interviews lined up and getting their next moves in place, they can get a little (what’s the word?) cocky. Showing up late, calling in sick and missing deadlines wasn’t okay before, and it isn’t okay now. Besides the fact that it is common courtesy to fulfill duties, employees planning to leave must remember that they still need these references. Besides that, they might one day need a position in this very company again. Burning bridges really only hurts the employee.

What About the Two Weeks’ Notice Thing?

Again, there is no black and white here. Each situation is different. Ideally, yes employees should give employers enough notice as to not leave them and their team in a bind. However, if by chance one of the reasons for leaving is a spiteful and/or ill-tempered boss, the future ex-employee might be setting himself or herself up for failure by giving notice. Employees should read the situation and act accordingly. Any time it is possible to give ample notice, it should be given. The more specialized the position is, the more time is required to find and train a replacement.

Go Directly to the Boss

Quitting in an email or over the phone might be the easier route, but it is the least professional, short of tweeting resignation. Going to the boss directly is a simple sign of respect and confidence. Additionally, when this discussion takes place in person, there is little room for misinterpretation and the chance for feedback. Constructive criticism is good, but it can be a slippery slope. Employees do not have to give reason for their resignation, and sometimes that is the best course of action. This is not an opportunity to “stick it to the man”; this is an opportunity to display interpersonal skills and proper business etiquette.

Some people will say that it’s business, it’s not personal, but that’s not always the case. Going out with a bang might feel good for a moment, but when employees are looking around for personal and professional references, they might start to regret leaving their co-workers and managers in the lurch. As employees make the decision to leave, they should consider that discourtesies will only harm themselves.

Read more in Career Advice

Courtney McGann is the content creator and PR gal for Red Branch Media, an Omaha-based marketing firm. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B marketing agency, primarily focused on human resources and global workforce vendors. In the past Courtney has managed online communities, professional social outlets, marketing campaigns and event planning.