5 Tips To Leaving an Employer On Friendly Terms


I’m currently in the process of transitioning out of my current position.  I’m proud to say that I’m doing so on very friendly terms and, over the past few days, one of the most common questions I’ve received has been: “how are you able to leave and still be on such good terms with your boss and others?”

It’s a shame, really, that so many people do leave on negative terms.  Aside from the common advice one receives to “not burn bridges,” there’s just something very fulfilling about joining a company to do a job, finishing/succeeding at that job, and leaving as a friend of the company.

Below are five tips I believe can make this happen for you.

1. Don’t Surprise Your Boss

It’s hard to do and, admittedly, it depends on your having a great boss, but he or she should not be completely surprised by your decision to leave; he or she might not be expecting you to resign, but try not to shock them with the news.  There are “natural points” in one’s career where it’s sensible to consider other opportunities (e.g., after a large initiative has been delivered, once a stable leadership team underneath you exists, etc.).  It’s important to be sufficiently close to and have trust in your boss that career conversations such as this aren’t difficult.  If they are difficult, you might have a bad manager.

2. Present a Transition Plan

Your departure leaves a hole that must be filled; that hole doesn’t seem as big if you present your manager with a well-thought transition plan that includes such components as:

  • Proposed successor or successors.
  • An action plan with timelines showing a close-out of any existing open initiatives.
  • For those initiatives that cannot be closed in time, a reasonable “plan B”.
  • Suggested reorganization after your departure if necessary.

3. Provide Sufficient Notice

I’m frequently asked if two weeks is enough notice and my response is, unfortunately, “it depends.”  If you’re in a transactional role (e.g., customer service or technical support front line), you are able to leave much more succinctly than if you’re in a project-based role (e.g., salesperson with active opportunities, implementation manager with active projects, etc.).  A very simple rule of thumb I recommend is one to two weeks for each year of tenure, but not exceeding 30 days for junior/mid-level roles and 60 days for senior-level to executive roles.  Beyond 60 days, it no longer appears generous and becomes more of an awkwardly-long good bye.

4. Remain Positive & Grateful

I am frequently disappointed when I hear those leaving a company disparage it to no end.  All companies have their challenges and all have their high points that attracted you there in the first place.  It does you no good to criticize a company you’re leaving; the time for constructive criticism was during your tenure.  Be grateful for the opportunity you were given and convey positive energy to those you’re leaving behind to continue fighting the fight.

5. Ask What Else You Can Do to Make It a Smooth Transition

Just to make sure you haven’t missed something that is genuinely stressing your boss, it goes such a long way to ask the following question sincerely, “is there anything else that I can help you with between now and my departure date that would make this transition even smoother?”

Happy career hunting out there.

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