How to quit your job on good terms

In this article, get actionable tips on how to create the most optimal circumstances when quitting your job.

Naturally, leaving your company will have an effect on your coworkers and employer. And so, it can be difficult to make sure you remain on good terms once you have informed them of your decision.

Let’s have a look at some of the ways to keep your professional relationships in good health despite your departure.

The importance of doing it right

Whatever situation you’re in, we strongly advise being considerate to your employer and your colleagues. If you do it right:

  • You’ll be able to keep the healthy professional relationships that you’ve built with your co-workers and managers.
  • Your former employers will be more likely to recommend you.
  • The world of work is small, so it’s highly likely that you’ll see your former colleagues again sooner or later, probably when you least expect it!
So, what’s the first step?

The first step is to touch base with your manager about your plans to leave the company. But before you go storming into your boss’ office, take a look at these tips:

How – In person.

Instead of handing over a letter while muttering a few words, say it in person. A letter can be seen as cold or even aggressive, and can make the whole situation a lot more awkward than it needs to be. Once you’ve done this first step, you can hand over your official notice to human resources or your manager.

When – Pick the right time.

The further in advance you plan your departure, the more you can have a smooth transition, especially if you help to integrate your replacement.

It is important that you choose the right moment to announce your departure. It shouldn’t be right before an important team meeting or at 7 pm on Friday.  

Do it calmly, in a meeting room over a coffee with your manager.

Once your manager has had time to digest the news, and you’ve agreed on how and when to tell other stakeholders, you can inform the rest of the team.

What – What should you say?

This will depend on your reasons for deciding to leave, as well as your relationship with your manager.

If you’re leaving because you want to change industries or the type of you have, be honest. Talk about why you feel like you need to change without being negative about your current role. If you have a good relationship, your manager should wish you the best for your future and may even be able to help you take the first steps in your new career.

If you’re leaving due to a disagreement (with management, over strategy, your salary, promotion prospects etc.), now is the time to explain your grievances with tact and in a constructive manner.

Always be calm and polite in the way you communicate at this point: talk about how you feel and how specific things affect you personally, why it doesn’t fit anymore with your expectations without directly placing the blame on anyone.

Lastly, depending on how the conversation is going, it may be a good time to thank your manager or employer for the opportunity they have given you. Remind them of what you brought to the role, as well as what you have learned by being there.

When breaking the news to your colleagues

There is no rule that says you must provide every detail and reason for your departure. Staying neutral can be enough, for example: “After (X months/years) with you, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to branch out and start anew.  That’s why I’ve decided to leave the company.”

You may choose to talk about your future role if you already have a job. Your colleagues will probably want to know more: it’s up to you to find a balance between saying too much and not saying enough, if anything to prevent gossip.

If you’re leaving after a disagreement, there’s no need to explain who, what or why. Airing your dirty laundry in public is not going to be beneficial to your future professional life. Try to strike a neutral tone when you announce that you are leaving, and be diplomatic.

If you’re embarking on a full career change, if you’re switching industries, or if you have a personal project you’d like to develop, share your enthusiasm. The team is more likely to be understanding and supportive of your decision and less likely to take anything personally.

Air any grievances to only a few select people

If you are leaving due to a conflict, the key here is to be cordial. Even if you really want to slam the door behind you, try to leave by having a constructive conversation either with your manager or human resources. It may end up helping the company and will be a weight off your shoulders.

Only talk about the people present in the conversation.

  • You may want to give your manager some constructive feedback about their methods;
  • If your manager isn’t taking your feedback seriously, you can go to human resources. If you are leaving due to your manager, he or she may behave in the same way with your successor.

Try and avoid any kind of derogatory comments about your manager, colleagues or, clients. They could spread like wildfire and leave a bad impression. And if your future employer decides to go looking for references, you could find yourself with a serious problem.

Ensure there’s a smooth changeover

This is the perfect moment to show your professionalism. You’ll leave a good impression, and your successor and coworkers will be able to continue their work without skipping a beat.

The keyword here is proactivity. Don’t wait until you’re asked before you explain something. Prepare a changeover document (or documents) and ask your coworkers if they’d like to organize meetings with your replacement so they can help them get to know the company. It’s in your interest and theirs to make sure the next few weeks go smoothly.

If applicable: Inform your clients that you’ll be leaving, introduce your successor and make sure all documents they may need are accessible on a drive or shared network. The whole team will appreciate your efforts.

Say goodbye in a way that suits you

Whether it’s afterwork drinks or a quiet word during a team lunch, use this moment to talk a little about your time at the company and your future plans.

This is when you should thank those who have worked closely with you, and give constructive feedback on the things you enjoyed about working with them. You can also start thinking about your relationship with them once you leave. Maybe you’d like to stay in touch professionally or ask them for advice now about your future projects.

Your colleagues may have banded together to get you a leaving gift, so why not think about getting them something in return? Something they can share, like a box of chocolates, or anything else that will remind them of you.

Last but not least: don’t feel guilty!

In the best of circumstances, there won’t be any hard feelings around your departure. But if your team is making you feel bad about your decision, try to keep some perspective. Here are some tips to help you do that:

  • You have the right to leave, no matter the reason. Your colleagues should respect your decision.
  • You’ve given it your all. Think about what you have done for the company and how your work has helped it to grow.
  • Reading this article proves that you care. You want to leave respectfully while maintaining dialogue. You don’t need to feel guilty about making a decision, you just need to be sensitive about how you go about it.

And now we wish you, good luck!

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