Most of us have indulged in the quitting fantasy. We envision barging into our manager’s office and bellowing a triumphant oration that culminates in a “take this job and shove it” decree. We believe our defiant declaration will win back our professional soul and right all that has been made wrong…by our boss, by our colleagues, and by the fleeting nature of chance and circumstance.
The trouble is, the empowering feeling only lasts a moment and the storm out is never as good as the storm in. After a while, the reality of your decision takes hold and you’re left with a nagging sensation that maybe, just maybe, you overreacted.
Before making a grand gesture that uproots your career and launches your financial well-being into uncharted territory, consider the following time-tested truisms that will help you leave in style, if indeed you decide to pull the ripcord.
- Have a Plan: Never leave a job without a clear next step. It could be another role, a prosperous side hustle that is ready for prime time, or even an intentional break that allows you to advance your education or restoke your professional flame. Whatever it is, make sure you have the details of your next move sorted. You should also ensure you have enough cash in reserve to cover expenses and healthcare during the transition.
- Don’t Hesitate: Once you’ve made the decision to go…go. Employees are sometimes scared of letting their manager down. Others stay too long simply because they don’t want to have an awkward conversation. Remember, a good manager will always have your best interest at heart, even when it pains him in the short term. If your manager is not willing to support your decision and wish you well, he/she was never on your side to begin with.
If you still feel guilty about leaving, try a little role reversal. Remember, in the U.S. you are an “at will” employee so companies can let you go any time…at their will. If you leave for a better situation, you’re simply showcasing your will and there is nothing wrong with that.
- Consider the Counter: If you are truly valued at the organization, your manager may provide you with a counteroffer. Sometimes, it’s exactly what you need: a raise that is given ahead of the normal cycle, a realistic market adjustment, or a promotion that was already in the works and expedited at your request. In other cases, however your employer may just be biding time.
Instead of thinking about their motivations, consider yours. You have to be clear about why you were looking to leave in the first place. If the gap can’t be remedied by financial factors, keep heading for the door. Chances are if you went through the trouble of interviewing for a new job and negotiating an offer, you have already mentally left the organization. If you’ve gone that far, you’ve already moved on with your heart…it’s time to let your feet catch up.
- Don’t Apologize…or Gloat: If you had a good relationship with your manager, thank him/her for what you learned and share what you’re moving toward in the new role. Such candor will only strengthen the relationship. After all, his/her mentoring likely helped ready you for the next step. In most cases these transitions are a time for celebration, not apologies.
On the other hand, if your manager was the true incarnation of evil, you may be tempted to showboat an “I told you so” or two on your way out. Again, while that may feel go in the moment, take the high road and resist the temptation to burn bridges on your way out of the dark castle. In the end, it’s not about them. During times of transition all eyes are on you, so strive to be someone worth watching.
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