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How to Manage Your Way Out of a Job

Maybe you have nurtured a dream about starting your own business for several years. Maybe a better offer has come down the pike. Maybe politics or macroeconomic conditions have made your organizational advancement slower than you planned – or, frankly, completely unlikely. Whatever the reason, you’ve determined that you need to quit your job.

According to Harvard Business Review, your plan for quitting your job should be carefully thought out and strategically planned, just as your plan for obtaining it was. Leadership skills are part of an exit strategy. Deploy them thoughtfully and carefully.

Manage Information Effectively
First, effectively manage the information that you’re leaving. Be very selective about who you tell and when you tell them.

A good rule of thumb is to tell your direct manager first. Do not leak it to your team or to human resources. Do not give out enticing clues at the office party. If your friends are in a position to inadvertently leak the information, keep it close to your vest from them as well. Your resignation will affect your manager, and you owe it to your manager to provide the tools for optimal management of the ship. Open-ended gossip and speculation can damage any manager’s ability to do this.

Another key component of managing information is to have your exit story in place before you tender your resignation. Make a positive story – never mention or dwell on any negative. If you’re leaving to start a new business, tell it to your manager as you resign in a compelling way. If you are starting a brand new role somewhere else, share your desire to do that. If it’s become difficult to progress at the organization, mention only your optimism at starting a new or different role.

Having your story in place means that you and your manager – and everyone else – is on-message. The stress on the positive means that your reputation and loyalty to the company will remain intact and not be damaged.

Be sure to think about the timing of your exit, as well. While many firms require just two weeks of notice, if you’re a mid- or higher level manager, that could really leave your division in the lurch. Would several months be better? If need be, discuss it with your manager to see what she or he is comfortable with.

Finally, make sure you leave after a major launch or the company’s busiest season, not just before or during.

After You Resign
If the relationship between you and your manager is a strong one, you can brainstorm the exit together after the initial resignation. When should the team be told? Who should tell them? Is anyone on your team a good candidate to take on your role? What key steps need to be taken between now and your exit date?

If the relationship between you and your manager is not strong, you can ask if you can tell your team. Direct communication from you might be better for their morale. However, your manager might prefer to handle all the communication and that is a right of the role.

Continue to demonstrate that you care about the job and the company. Show your commitment and professionalism in your work. Your dedication to meeting your responsibilities during the remainder of your tenure at the job will be noticed and appreciated by others. This positive approach will help ensure that you will leave the legacy of a committed professional.