“You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. 
You can steer yourself, in any direction You choose!”
-Dr. Seuss

As a working professional, there comes a time in all our careers when we have to quit our jobs. There could be innumerable reasons for us wanting to quit and we could be in any state of mind when the time for resigning/notice period approaches. Anger, nostalgia, pride, nervousness, a sense of loss, excitement are only some of the emotions you could be experiencing in your notice period, leading up to your last day. And I am saying all this with so much conviction only because I crossed this bridge a couple of weeks back. It is hard to let go off something you have nurtured. But whatever it is, no matter how you feel, a graceful exit is a non- negotiable. There is nothing more desirable than closure in such a situation. Right?

Here are five things we need to do, to ensure that graceful exit we all want:

1. Prepare them. And yourself: If it is in your control, prepare your manager/team in advance about your exit. It is bad enough for them that you’ve chosen to move on. The news should not be jolting. Have a conversation in person with your manager first. Be clear and courteous. The time in hand will allow your work to come to a closure, a suitable replacement can be brought in and it is respectful!

I had a conversation about my departure, a good 8-9 months in advance. It was hard and it took some courage. NOT venting in this conversation was also a good choice to make. This allowed me to deal with it well. I was able to gain a lot of perspective into myself in this process. My reasons to move on:

  • I was getting married and wanted to relocate with my husband.
  • I loved the work, but I wanted a different role and exposure. I wanted to build different skills.


2. Stay honest and polite in your exit interview: Exit interviews are not venting sessions either. But if you value your time at the organization and care for them, it is important that you give honest feedback about your experiences. Don’t trash talk. Tell them what you feel. You could be honest, but not rude. I believe many conversations cannot be had in person. And if something needs to be addressed, exit interviews are the places to share.

I worked in an organization which values feedback from its employees. The leadership team really holds space for honest conversations. So I could say what I needed to. But it is for each person to assess their levels of disclosure. This may contribute to how you are remembered.

3. Reach out to all the teams:  If you have been a person who has worked with most teams in the organization, and have some skills which others depend on, inform them about your exit.  It is only fair that you make an open offer to them regarding working on anything that they need from you. That way they won’t be left in a vacuum.
I was involved in designing trainings, workshops and curricula for the organization, and I lent the same expertise to anyone who needed it. When I reached out to all the teams, I was pleasantly surprised at how many things they needed me to work on. In the end, I felt good about myself and my work, and teams got their work done! Classic Win-Win.

Panting4. Celebrate your journey: For whatever reason you quit, once you cross the bridge, know it is a new beginning. Your work stint would have brought you in contact with different kinds of people, allowed you to pick up skills, taken you towards your calling and helped you grow as a person. Celebrate that. The farewell might be a difficult time, an emotional time as well. But bringing in some joy, appreciation and fun will make your experience extremely worthwhile.

On my last day I planned with the team to organize a pot luck lunch, requested everyone to leave me messages in a bag and played a ‘Valentine’s Day’ version of ‘Secret Santa’. It was a happy day and brought me the right kind of closure I wanted. In fact, my parting gift to the organization was a painting I made on the conference room wall.

5. Allow and acknowledge the possibility of a future association: You never know when you may feel the need to associate in some way with an organization you leave, in the future. Be it in terms of work, or partnering with a colleague, reference from your manager, anything. It can happen. Hence, as they say, don’t burn bridges. Leave a door open.  Send appreciative emails/messages, be thankful. Tell your team/managers that at some point you would love to associate again. For organization, it is always good when ex-employees come back to contribute again. Remember, it is always the relationships we build, that matter most.
A big part of my role was that of a facilitator/trainer’s, and I loved it. Sometime soon in the future, having built more skills, I would love to come back as a trainer to contribute to the journey of the organization. Truly!

The multitude of circumstances we may leave under, it may get difficult to leave on a good note. But the effort should not be compromised on. Keep asking yourself at each point, ‘Am I being my best?”. You’ll know what to do when the answer is ‘No’ or a ‘Maybe’. I still think of things I may have wanted to do differently, in hindsight. But if we can all do the above, we know that both us and the organization would be in a better place.

Have similar thoughts? We would love to know! Do share you experience with us.

This is Nilisha Mohapatra’s (@NilishaM) fourth guest post for Happy In the Now. Her previous posts are “ Five Steps that help me be Here and Now – Being Mindful and Happy In The Now” , Five Life-Altering Philosophies from Calvin and Hobbes – Happy In The Now and “Five Life Skills that give wings to your Career”. Nilisha is a Post Graduate in Applied Psychology, a facilitator for Human Potential Development and Experiential workshops for empowerment. She is currently on a learning and exploration journey in life. To know more about her experiences and read more of her blog, please visit fantasycluster.wordpress.com

Pic Courtesy:  Scott Adams – http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/