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4 Do’s and Don’ts to Quitting Gracefully

Quitting your job is never easy. Sometimes it’s done out of necessity, or out of unhappiness, or for logistical or life changes, or if luck were to have it, a greater opportunity came calling. It happens under a million different circumstances and with many nuances, emotions, and pitfalls – good and bad.

Right now, there are A LOT of people quitting their jobs. The state of the world has changed so much that people are making major life changes in droves – the job market is HOT (just look at our Gigs board), and people are facing a multitude of opportunities and circumstances that make major changes possible.

And that’s great. You should follow your passion, do what’s right for you or your family, leave a negative situation, or just simply take a brave, professional plunge. All the power to you. BUT. There is a right way to exit your organization and a wrong way.

The way in which you exit an organization says more about you as a professional than much of what you did as an employee. It is your final shining moment – do not let it tarnish or negate the work you put in during your tenure.

No matter the circumstances or relationships, you should strive to leave on good terms with the best outcomes for the organization. Here are four tips to help you accomplish this:

  1. Never give less than two weeks’ notice. Period. It’s purely professional, respectful, and expected. If you are Director level or higher, three to four weeks is preferable. The day in which you give your notice also does not count in the two weeks.

  2. Take responsibility and be proactive about laying out and documenting your own transition plan, responsibilities, processes, and key documents. Take the lead and don’t wait for your boss to figure it all out. You own your space and know it better than anyone – help those around you who will be stepping in after you depart. Again, it’s respectful and much appreciated by teammates at all levels. (This includes closing the loop with partners, making intros as needed for new staff members managing projects, etc.)

  3. Do not “taint the water” by sharing grievances, gossiping, or becoming generally negative during your transition period. This is highly detrimental to teams and causes issues well beyond the departure of one individual. Even if you are struggling, or the situation is challenging, keep the best interests of the organization and its beneficiaries in mind. Always easier said than done, but critically important, none the less.

  4. Remain consistent and reliable! While it’s tempting to ebb and flow during this time and perhaps check out mentally and even physically, it’s imperative that you remain consistent in your performance and leadership. Don’t cut corners on your work, let things slide, leave early or come in late, or let things fall between the cracks. This is when your leadership and teammates are counting on you the most – when they are trying to learn, absorb, and transition. Mistakes and poor behavior are heightened during this time and are detrimental to all.

Don’t be the person that people are glad to see go. Don’t make the last few weeks hard on everyone. Dig deep and focus on the organization you were once (and still may very well be) incredibly dedicated to and the team you have spent countless hours with, and allow that to drive your desire to have a positive and productive departure. If you leave an organization poorly, you will always be remembered for that, not the work you put in leading up to that moment.

Departures can be sweet and good and healthy – let yours be the start of something wonderful!

Do you have tips for quitting with grace? We'd love to read them in the comments below. And, if you're reading this post dreaming of the day you can transition into a new role, consider checking out the open positions on the DRG Gigs board or reaching out to our team to learn how we can help you land your dream job with executive coaching.


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