This morning has me thinking about how people leave, and some ways in which leaving can be done well, serving both the individual and the institution which they are leaving. Leaving can be awkward, emotional, or difficult, and can often be paired with grief and/or guilt. So how might one (no matter the position) leave well? Here are a few thoughts:
- plan your leaving with the least disruption to your current institution: leaving just prior to the beginning of a school year, leaving in the middle of a big project, or leaving right before the launch of a new product or program leaves everyone scrambling and can hurt the mission and short-term needs of the institution. Negotiating to stay until a replacement is found or a plan for a smooth and timely exit speaks well to both the current and future employers
- when it is time to leave, leave quickly: after the decision is made and announced, the sooner one leaves the better for everyone involved. It may be hard to leave friends and colleagues behind; it may be difficult not having a place to go to during the interim; you may believe that your presence will make the transition easier. The truth is, you have chosen to move on...so move on
- be clear about your decision to leave: where there is a vacuum of information, people will fill it in for themselves. Obscure reasons such as "it felt like the right time" and "I prayed about it and felt God was leading me in this direction" may play into the decision but do not provide any help for one's colleagues or the institution. Was it pay? then say so...was it a promotion? then say so...was it that you and your supervisor were always at odds? then say so...was it that you wanted work that was not so demanding? then say so. Clarity helps you and those with whom you have worked
- be sure that everything is in place: often times people's work is in their heads, or they have a unique filing system that only they can understand. Take the time to prepare for the next person who will be in your role. Making lists, cleaning up files, explaining everything to your supervisor goes a long way in making a smooth transition for the next person
- keep your commitments: when one joins an organization, their plan is often to be around for a good length of time and, in so doing, make promises to others that require time and effort. Going to another institution might change those situations and the person leaving has to make a decision on whether they will keep those promises. It may take time, but keeping promises is a sign of integrity and will serve anyone well over the course of their lives
- leave graciously: this should go without saying, but this is a time when many people burn bridges and make decisions that could hurt them long term. Because of the many emotions attached to leaving, things may be said and done that would never happen in a normal situation. Be careful with what is said and done over the course of preparing to leave and immediately after leaving...and by all means, stay away from social media during this time. No need to embarrass yourself and/or your previous organization
Here's what I know...people move on from their current institutions for multiple reasons and, while I may initially be hurt or angry, I understand that rhythm and flow of one's work is up to them. Finding meaning in work has many facets and, when one of those facet is "the next step," then I truly wish people well in their journey. I also wish them well in their leaving...and pray that they leave well.