She’s been with our hospital for over 35 years and was retiring soon. I was asked to speak with her because she didn’t want to be recognized with a Retirement Tea celebration. When we met, I asked her why and the response was short, “I don’t want anyone to make a fuss over me.” I told her that I wouldn’t arm-twist her in any way, but asked if she’d considered those she’d worked with over the years that might need to see her to say goodbye, as well as her family missing out on seeing her being celebrated. She changed her mind and we celebrated with her a couple of weeks later. I visited with her toward the end of the celebration, and she said, “Thank you for asking me to re-consider. I had no idea. So many people came by today to see me and told me stories I’d forgotten of how I impacted their life or career. There were even people who I didn’t always get along with that came by too, and I’m glad we talked.”

Chances are you won’t retire from your current organization; much less be there 35 years. Most of you will experience several job changes because frequent job changes are the norm, and jobs are often the casualty of mergers and acquisitions. It means you have many farewells to manage in your career. Not handling your departure well impacts others you worked with and will come back to haunt you in the future. Everyone is watching what you do and how you act when you leave.

When it’s time for you to move on, here are 3 mistakes to avoid.

  1. Short or no notice – A resignation notice period allows for a smooth transition of information and work you are doing to whomever will be covering for your job after you leave. Give and fulfill the notice expected from your organization. Common reasons people don’t give or fulfill notice are a) they are anxious to “get away from” their job or company because of unhappiness with the organization, their supervisor, or the people they work with or b) excitement about where they are going and “can’t wait” to move on. Neither is a reason to not give and fulfill your notice period. Don’t believe your friend who says, “no one gives notice anymore.” It matters.
  2. Giving less than your best – Give your best efforts. Resist “checking out” early and make certain your work each day remains at a high level. Your co-workers and those you provide services for are still relying on you and need you to be your best. You are only a “lame duck”, for decisions about the future that someone else should be making.
  3. Negative language – Never badmouth people or the organization on your way out, say only positive things. Negative language reflects on you and does no damage to whomever you want to hurt. Resist feeling free to share all your thoughts about organizational decisions you never agreed with or people you didn’t like. If someone asks, don’t “take the bait”. Remember, others are watching what you say.

If that doesn’t convince you, think about this. Some day you might be a candidate for a job where someone you once worked with now works. If you made one of these mistakes and it impacted them, what type of reference will they be for you?

Don’t do the right thing out of fear, do it because it makes sense.

Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. Ephesians 4:29


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