When people begin a new job, they’re a little more cautious than they need to be. As they get acclimated to their new environment, colleagues, and responsibilities, they worry constantly about putting their best feet forward in the hopes of making a great first impression.
And then, somewhere along the line, people get comfortable in their roles, and they become a little less stiff. Their conversations become a little less formal; they spend more time at the proverbial water cooler; an email here or there might fall through the cracks. Eventually, they’ll settle into a rhythm they’ll pretty much adhere to throughout their entire tenure in the role.
That is, until they hand in their two weeks’ notice, and they begin to treat their workplace like high school students in the second semester of their senior year. As someone who has worked 14 different jobs throughout my career, I can tell you from firsthand experience that this is a mistake. When exiting a job, it’s imperative that you leave colleagues and employers with a final impression that’s just as positive as your first one. Here’s how to do it:
Plan An Exit Strategy
Figure out the right way to communicate your decision with your employers and be direct. Within reason, be accommodating to exit interviews, replacement training, and anything else your employer needs to make the transition smooth.
Leave on a High Note
The only way to create a positive reputation that will outlast your presence in a workplace is by continuing to work hard until your very last day. Don’t mentally check out until you’re physically checked out, too.
People remember a bitter aftertaste far more than they remember their first bite. By staying professional until your final moments, you’ll nurture a solid network you can tap down the line for references, collaborations, and future opportunities.
Focus On The Future
We’ve all had the fantasy of chewing out our bosses on the way out the door after a poor work experience. Resist the urge. You’ve made it this far. Don’t spoil everything because of grievances related to a job that doesn’t factor into your future.
It’s like the great rapper Andre 3000 once said: “you’re only funky as your last cut / you focus on the past, and your ass will be a has what.”
Look, as a person who has left a number of jobs for a variety of reasons (some good, some not so much), I completely relate to the temptation to kick up your feet in the last few weeks of your role and reward yourself for a job well done. Whenever I’m tempted to do this, however, I take a moment to remember the few times I’ve intently watched Olympic figure skating or gymnastics. In the workplace setting, much like in these sports, it is so easy to ruin an otherwise flawless routine with a sloppy dismount.