You’re Leaving

Sooner or later, it’s going to happen. At some point, we all have to go. Be it a departmental shift, moving towards one of the corner offices, changing careers, or ending one for retirement, you will leave the organization you work with.

I move every few years in my job, so I know a bit about leaving and reflecting. Now, as soon as I meet one of the new arrivals, I’m already thinking about that person leaving. Even when we’re not sure if or when one of our own is moving on, there are some things I think we need to consider as soon as possible. I want those leaving to feel these three things about their experience.

     I had a good time.

Being happy to come to work is important, and a lot of people do it. I want people to look forward to what they do at work and to be able to look back at their days or years with the ability to say that there were a lot more good days than bad. Most of that is all about attitude, and it’s their responsibility more than yours, but it’s important to think about. It’s the first thing a person will answer when asked how it was to work at that last place. Either they had a good time or they didn’t. The rest doesn’t really matter a year later.

     We both got something out of this.

You work, I pay you. Fair trade, right? I don’t think so, and neither do most in the work force. Everyone has goals, or they can if you point them towards my earlier post. You have a chance to help them meet those goals if you know what they are. They can be better off because they are with you, and the organization can be better off because that single individual worked there. It may seem lofty, or just an academic discussion, but I promise you it isn’t too hard to make happen.

     I’m leaving on my terms.

We don’t always get to control who stays and goes. My day job has limits to how long people can stay based on rank, retirement rules, and a number of tools to make sure we have the right combination of personnel, skills, and ranks. Some people just can’t stay as long as they want, but that’s a small percentage of the group. Being honest with those we work with about opportunity and risks to careers is important. If someone wants to leave the organization or it’s time to transfer, I want him to do it on his terms, prepared for the transition, and well mentored to know what’s coming next.

So, what’s in it for me? Well, I can’t help that people are going to leave at some point, but I can influence the attitude they have when they go, and I can affect what they say to their peers at social events or office chats later. Whether your community is close-knit or you’re constantly looking to recruit new talent, how people talk about you once they’ve left is valuable.

You can’t fix this on the last day and try to change a year of the every day grind. Figure out how to make these three ideas possible now.

– Have you been able to look back on a previous job and say that you had a good time, that you and the organization both benefitted from you being there, and that you left on your terms to do what you wanted next?

– Could the people under and around you say that if they were to leave tomorrow?

– What makes it possible or impossible?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

Related posts:
Set Three Goals

Have a great week out there.

– JT

James Tinker

About James Tinker

James was born and raised in Bangor, and left home at 18 for the Navy. Twenty-five years later, he retired as highest enlisted rank on a warship in San Diego. His popular blog series, The Day Job, shares personal and professional lessons learned through his career.