Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why Exiting Your Job Can Make or Break Your Brand

You are leaving the company, now what? Many people dream about the last time they will have to circle the parking area to find a space, attend "that" meeting which everyone knows is a waste of time, or pull the report which takes a few hours to create that no one reads. No matter where you are in your career, there are three stages, possibly four, during the course of your position: 

Starting - Sustaining - Reinventing - Exiting 

Three of these stages have something in common (Starting, Sustaining, Reinventing) because this is when you are investing to positively impact your career. Exiting, however, is different since at this stage you don't have anything to prove...or do you? It is at this point when your attitude and actions either confirm or derail the brand you have been trying to create.

What is critical about the exiting phase? 

This is the story of who you are in real life, not a fairytale that ends with "happily ever after" or a music video with you driving away in your exotic car while your former team watches through the window with jealousy. Consider the consequences before you adopt the mentality of "take this job and shove it", a throwback to Johnny Paycheck's twangy tune (or insert your own theme music here). If you have dreamed of quitting big (and who hasn't), the most important thing you can do is be the "you" that you will be proud of when you think back to this time. Since none of us know where we might end up or who we may be working for someday (never say never), then it is in your future self's best interest to set her up for success. Where is the flight attendant now who quit big a few years ago? Exactly.

It may be a challenge to envision your start with a new company, especially if you were settled where you were, nevertheless, you are not your job. Your experiences, skills, and relationships all go with you, and that is priceless.

Here are a few simple suggestions that will keep your brand intact and leave the door open for future possibilities:

1) Show up as scheduled. If you have personal matters you must attend to, block out your calendar and let others know when you will be unavailable.

2) Complete assignments as agreed. If the load is unrealistic for the time you have left, say what you will reasonably be able to accomplish.

3) Create a transition plan. Document any activities in a transition plan that will allow the pertinent tasks to be handed off.  List contacts and any other important information one would need to successfully resolve issues.

Bonus - At your end date, give a day's window to answer questions, after that, you are not obligated, someone will figure it out. Don't be misled that work will stop "working" because you have left the building.

Ultimately you have to decide how you want to be remembered. If you have spent a lot of time working on your brand and showcasing your capabilities, why blow it up in an instant? The only thing you have to prove is that you are who you have been saying you are, and your exit will underline it for you.