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Seven tips to avoid burning your bridges on the job

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Does it really matter how you end a relationship with a job you do not like and with people you will never work with again in your professional life? A young man applied and won a new position in a company that had room for advancement, a higher salary and, by all surface accounts, much nicer people to work with. A debate erupted among his co-workers regarding the proper way in which to end the relationship with his current employer.{{more}}

Without a doubt, his position was a dead-end, low-paying job with a boss who seldom expressed appreciation or recognized a job well done. The majority of his co-workers thought the young man should just quit, as the employer did not deserve advance notice after all the years of mediocre treatment. The young man, however, listened to wise counsel and gave his employer two weeks’ notice in writing and actually thanked the employer for the years of employment—a very smart move, as the world is a small place and you just never know how or when you will work with someone in the future.

1. Don’t burn your bridges. Leave the gate open in the event you may need those relationships in the future. It’s not unusual for employees to return to an employer years later, so leave with a good name.

2. Don’t gossip. It might be tempting to get a few last knocks in about the position and the people you are leaving behind, but do your best to resist that urge. You are still building your professional reputation.

3. Keep your high work standard. Don’t do mediocre work just before you leave. Pretend like it’s your first few months on the job and give it your all.

4. Help train the new person. If a new person has been chosen, take the time to sit with them and show them the ropes. You are planting a seed of goodwill and making the transition seamless for the company.

5. Clean up your work. The new person should be able to walk into your workspace, open a folder and see exactly what you were working on without losing too much time.

6. Provide proper notification. Give at least two weeks’ notice and do so in writing; for managerial and higher positions, a month’s or more notice would be appreciated.

7. Give feedback. If there is an exit interview, take the time to complete the process and do so candidly and diplomatically.

A civil departure is always in your professional interest, as you may need to do business with that former boss or colleague later in life or they may be in a position to directly or indirectly influence decisions being made about you. Your reputation and your ability to interact with people are big factors that will determine how successful you will be. Always strive to be savvy and strategic in your decisions and never burn your bridges.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.”
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send an email to info@workplacesuccess.com

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