Archive for April 2012

Resignation Rules – how to walk out with your head held high

Leaving a job that's passed its 'use by' date?

Your Reputation Goes Ahead of YouWe've all agonised over the prospect of leaving a job and eventually come to the conclusion that it's time to move on. Either the job has become untenable or a far better opportunity beckons. But before you rush headlong into your shiny new future, it's wise to carefully plan your resignation.

Burning bridges may provide short-term satisfaction as you let loose and share a few less than complimentary home truths about the company you're leaving.  However, the fallout is likely to have a far greater negative impact on you than your current employer.  While it's tempting to think, "Oh well, it doesn't really matter, I'm leaving anyway," actually, it does.

People remember what you say and do and the world is a small place.  While your great life redesign provides a fresh start, chances are someone from your old world will know someone in your future.  Your reputation will travel ahead of you and before you know it, when you're introduced to someone you want to impress, they'll instantly make a connection and snap judgement.  "Aren't you the guy who left XXX under a cloud?"

A veteran of 9 carefully considered resignations and through my work as a professional career coach, here's what I've learnt about how to keep your reputation intact, enjoy your last few weeks and walk out with your head held high.

7 Ways to Exit Your Job Gracefully

1. Know where you're heading

A clear plan for the future will give you the certainty you need to move forward confidently.  Even if you’re not jumping straight into a new job, choosing to take stock and work out what you want to do next is a positive step.  Be confident about your resignation and feel optimistic about the future you’ve chosen.

2. Get the timing right

While it's tempting to resign as soon as you've decided that it's time to go, think about what's best for you and the organisation you're leaving.  Consider your notice period and make sure you tell the right people in the right order.  Your boss won't want to hear that you're leaving via the grapevine.

If the nature of your work means your company will need you to finish up immediately, plan for this and don't take it personally.  Policy is not a personal slight on your competence or value.

3. Decide how you want to be remembered

Act without regret and consciously choose the legacy you want to leave behind. Once you've decided, act accordingly.   Whether you have a day, week or month from resignation to exit, work to create a positive last impression. Invest as much focus and energy in this as you did in creating a positive first impression when you started.

4. Don't take your eye off the ball

Resist the temptation to 'down tools'.  While you may not feel as committed to your role once you've resigned, this isn't a time to stop responding to emails just because you won't be involved in the future.

Focus on what you can realistically achieve during your notice period and do whatever it takes to wrap up incomplete tasks or projects.  Identify opportunities where you can add value by getting things done and be pro-active about helping your colleagues succeed. Your professional reputation and integrity are depending on it.

5. Accept the disconnect and let go

You may notice that once word of your resignation gets out, you're invited to fewer meetings, your inbox seems emptier and fewer people are asking for your help or opinion. This is a normal response to change and again not personal. 

Your colleagues will be learning to manage without you over this time which is healthy. Consciously use the freed up time to make it easy for them, organise your files and facilitate a handover.

6. Maintain perspective

Become a ‘fly on the wall' and simply observe what's going on, without engaging emotionally. Everything is relative and this job won’t have been all good or all bad. Once you've resigned, it's no longer about you and this is a great time to create short-term, quick wins that will make a big difference long after you've gone.

7. Celebrate a job well done

Take time to reflect on all you've achieved and learnt.  Capturing achievements and lessons learnt along the way will help you identify your strengths, core skills and what you're most proud of.  Even the toughest challenges that brought lessons you wouldn't have chosen, are invaluable.  Recognise the positive difference you've made and use this as a springboard to your next job or a new career.

The last few days may be a blur of farewell coffees, lunches and drinks which are a great time to thank and acknowledge those who have made a difference to you.  Be generous with your thanks, particularly to those you found challenging to work with. As you hand in your pass, close the final box and turn off the light, take a last look around and be thankful for the experience. 

It’s time to pick up the box, hold your head high and walk through that door one last time knowing you’ve made a graceful exit. The future beckons…

Carpe Diem
Caroline Cameron

 

What Are You Waiting For?

Scene from Waiting for GodotHave you ever noticed how many people are waiting for xxxx before they do yyyy?  It almost seems like they’re 'on hold' until their children are older, they have more money, they’ve paid off the mortgage, their health is better….

Whatever the rationale, they’ve invented a perfectly good reason to defer what they truly desire.  Resigned to the belief that they can’t have what they want, they sit back and let life pass by. It’s kind of like Samuel Beckett's famous play Waiting for Godot, where the entire plot centres around Estragon, Pozzo and Vladimir who are waiting for someone who never arrives and something that never happens.

Sure you may need to be patient and bide your time but only for so long.  Success never came to anyone who was merely wishing, waiting and hoping for it to land in their lap.

What’s waiting really costing you?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of instant gratification!  This isn’t about seeing something you want and getting it now.  It is about having a dream and doing whatever you can to make it happen without excuses.  Challenge yourself and be honest.  Maybe the rational reasons you’re deferring your dream are really fear of failure excuses for not stepping up and making it happen.

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, would you have any regrets right now? On the other hand, if you knew you couldn't fail, how different would that be?

Perhaps the true wake-up call comes when those you love tell you that your 'play it safe' risk aversion is dragging them down and holding them back.  Many relationships fail when one partner stays stuck while the other wants to spread their wings.

You do deserve it!

For over 20 years a friend of mine gave his beloved grandmother a beautiful cake of expensive French soap for Christmas.  A gentle and humble person, she opened her gift each year with genuine delight.  Although she knew what the gift was, her eyes lit up and she smiled as she deeply inhaled the soap’s beautiful perfume.  Every Christmas it was as if it was the first time she’d received such a lovely gift.  My friend smugly declared himself the ‘favourite grandson’.

This wonderful woman died peacefully at 82.  When my friend was helping his father pack up her belongings he opened a drawer in her dressing table and was stunned to find 25 cakes of carefully placed, unused French soap.  Slowly and sadly it dawned on him – his grandmother had never felt she deserved the beautiful soap enough to use it.

Many people deny themselves happiness because they feel they don’t deserve it.  So focused on feeling unworthy or where they’ve fallen short, they totally overlook the successes they've achieved and positive differences they’ve made to others along the way.   We all make mistakes and trip up from time to time but that’s no reason to not create a positive future.  Perhaps it's all the greater motivation to make the most of the life you have left.

Defining moments are great catalysts for change

You’ll always remember the moments that shape your life, taking it off on a new course.  For some it may be the birth of their first child; for others it could be divorce, a health scare, the death of a loved one or redundancy.  Whatever it is for you, a defining moment is one where you know without a shadow of doubt, that life from here on will be different.  Everything happens for a reason – you just might not realise what the reason is at the time. 

Zero birthdays (30, 40, 50 etc) are often times when we reflect on what we’ve achieved and try to create a crystal ball to determine what lies ahead. Even if it doesn’t smack you in the face, a gently dawning defining moment could also be the perfect excuse to redesign your life and take action now. 

The Great Life Redesign shares the true story of Steve’s chance meeting with a stranger at a railway station and how it set him off on an adventure that would see him walking the Kokoda Trail and many other exciting adventures. The message behind Steve’s story is that rather than looking for reasons not to do something, find just one reason to do it!

Whatever your defining moment, use it as a springboard to take a giant leap towards how you want life to be.  Your goals don’t need to be ambitious and grandiose – they simply need to be meaningful and compelling.

In the immortal words of Alfred De Souza who believed that happiness is a journey not a destination,

Work like you don't need money

Love like you've never been hurt

And dance like no one's watching.

So, when would now be a good time to stop waiting and step intentionally towards your dreams?  Go on, there's really nothing stopping you.

Carpe Diem

Caroline Cameron