How to leave a job without burning bridges

By Kirk Wakefield and Chris Morales

In the middle of the Great Resignation–the Big Quit or the Great Reshuffle–no better time exists than now to emphasize the best way to go about resigning without looking like a quitter.

Let’s start from the time you first take a job until the time comes to move on.

  1. Establish an open-handed relationship with your direct supervisor:
    1. Openly share your career goals.
      • Be realistic. Look at career paths on LinkedIn to see how long it takes others to get where you want to go.
    2. Plainly discuss areas you need to grow.
      • Focus on 1-2 at a time. You have 40+ years of your career to grow.
      • Be patient with yourself.
    3. Schedule review meetings even if the supervisor doesn’t.
      • Be proactive but not overbearing.
  2. Find a mentor:
    1. Who has at least 10 years more experience than you.
    2. Who is in a place or role you would someday like to be.
    3. Who has your best interest at heart.
    4. Who will tell you the hard truth when you’re wrong.
      • Respect them for saying it. Truth is a rare commodity. Treasure it.
    5. Who will meet with you on a regular basis.
  3. Keep in touch with your professors (and mentors):
    1. Whatever you’re going through, they’ve heard it all before.
    2. Since they’ve no stake in the matter they can give unbiased counsel.
    3. Odds are they know your supervisor or others in that role and can provide insight.
    4. They can help you if/when you are ready to move.
  4. When issues arise that make you think about quitting:
    1. Talk with your supervisor about it.
    2. Don’t identify a problem without offering a solution.
    3. Look for ways to help others.
      • Be an answer.
      • Leadership will notice.
    4. Don’t complain to peers or others. It makes you part of the organization’s problem.
    5. Remember all companies have their problems.
      • Learn to manage frustrations.
      • Learn to navigate political waters.
      • Make learning instead of leaving your first choice.
  5. When you see opportunities to go elsewhere:
    1. Discuss the pros and cons with your supervisor.
    2. Run it by your mentor.
    3. Run it by your professor.
    4. Your supervisor, mentor and professor should never be surprised to learn you’re moving on.
  6. If you ultimately decide to make a career change:
    1. Provide at least two weeks notice.
    2. Be organized and helpful. Provide detailed notes so others know what’s going on after you leave.
    3. If you leave to a competitor, expect to be asked to leave immediately.
      • This is not about you.
      • Organizations have a business to run and have to protect clients, colleagues and intellectual property.

Professional courtesy, communications and grace go a long way on how you are remembered. Since the sports industry is small and everyone talks to everyone else across every league, all of these count double.

These same tips fit for almost any other big decision, like switching majors, churches, or other organizational commitments.

Other tips for how to manage careers in transition? Comment below.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.