We frequently give the caution, “Don’t burn a bridge.” But what exactly does this look like in the workplace? I recently watched a friend–let’s call him Mark–execute a job change with great integrity and purposefulness. Mark had invested so much of himself in his work, he didn’t want to lose the goodwill and reputation he’d built up over the span of his employment at that organization. He developed a strategic exit plan that we all could benefit from following:
1. Mark went overboard to let his boss know how much he appreciated the opportunity of working for her. He expressed how grateful he was for the training and development she’d given him, and explained why he was making a career move in a way that let her know he wasn’t unhappy with her or his current work situation.
2. Because Mark was only able to give two weeks’ notice (four would’ve been better due to the special software training his job required), he offered to be available via the telephone in the evenings for two to three additional weeks. Both his boss and the new employee could call for help if they got stuck in training on the complicated software Mark had become proficient in using.
3. His exit plan included helping the new employee succeed. In his last two weeks, Mark built how-to documentation for all the processes he was in charge of, so the new hire wouldn’t have to start from scratch.
Mark’s thoughtful exit strategy made it easy for him to get a great reference and allowed him to leave in good standing as a valued employee. And no bridges were burned in the process!
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