How to make a graceful exit

Thinking about quitting your job? Here's how to leave gracefully...

Last Updated: 28 Aug 2015

Be sure. The biggest single influence on employee engagement is the behaviour of your boss. If your reasons for leaving are reversible ('I feel overstretched and undervalued'), could a brave conversation with your manager convince you to stay?

Explain yourself. Once you're sure about leaving, explain the emotions, facts and experiences behind your decision. Hearing the full story will help colleagues to understand and accept your choice, and give leaders the chance to learn from your departure.

Smooth the way. For now, you're still part of things, so act accordingly. Work with your team to minimise disruption: help it recruit your replacement, write a thorough handover and be flexible on your notice period if possible. You want to be missed, not resented for leaving everybody in the lurch.

Control yourself. If you've been dismissed or made redundant, stay calm, smile, and keep negative thoughts about the organisation or your colleagues to yourself. As well as keeping your dignity and bridges intact, a mature response could attract new admirers, who are ready to help.

Set things right. Never got on with that designer? Take him for coffee and say that you hope to leave on good terms with him. Life's too short: he may be useful one day and, most importantly, you don't want him bad-mouthing you in future.

Be remembered. Identify your most successful project and use your final weeks to train a new champion. Leave a legacy and your presence will be felt for years to come.

Minimise damage. When the BBC director-general George Entwistle resigned after just 54 days, he angered many by keeping a £450,000 severance package. If you're leaving in regrettable circumstances, consider a grand gesture. Your reputation will follow you, so do what you can to save it.

Remain respectful. Your exit strategy should continue after you leave. Meet regularly with ex-colleagues and highlight your successes rather than griping about the business. A flourishing ex-employee: who better to keep in mind for new opportunities?

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