Peace Out: Managing Exit the Right Way

Insecurities and tensions are on the rise. And so are the mistakes that both employees and employers are making while handling separation

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You have nailed that interview, negotiated your salary, and just signed on the dotted line to accept your new job. Now, there’s just one tiny thing standing in the way of you and your sweet new gig: your old one. These are challenging times. A lot of organizations are restructuring. Many employees are moving cities to be back with their family. Insecurities and tensions are on the rise. And so are the mistakes that both employees and employers are making while handling separation.

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When you’re job-hunting, you tend to think a lot about what it would take to land a new position, but there’s a great deal to consider about the one you’re leaving, too. It is important to leave your job on a positive, professional note and not burn the bridges you have built over the last few years. Even if you’d love to give your boss a piece of your mind, there is a different time and a place of doing it. A bad boss does not make an entire organization bad. Some employees think they can do whatever while leaving a company, and end up making serious mistakes. Remember you could be in a similar situation in your new ‘dream’ organization a couple of years down the line, and then it becomes a habit, and these habits become destiny. It takes years to build reputation, but it doesn’t take long for a professional to be branded as a troublemaker. Ironically most of these bad points are earned at the times of exit, when actually it matters the least.

Once you have decided to leave, there are some things you must do to ensure a graceful transition. This ensures you leave a good feeling behind and your reference checks would go smoothly not only for the immediate job in question but also long after that. More importantly you would also join a new place in a happier state of mind.

So here’s a checklist of what you may want to do.

Study the Policy

Before discussing about your decision to quit with anyone, do read the exit-policy of the company. See what is the term of the notice period and what are you supposed to do during this period. Also see what other clearances you may require before being able to leave the job in a good stead.

Have a discussion

Once you decide to leave, have a personal chat with your supervisor. It is quite rude and unprofessional to just send out a resignation mail. It’s akin to breaking up via a chat message. You may think you are hurting someone by doing this, getting back at people, but remember, and organization is always bigger than an individual. This often becomes the first wrong step that takes you on an unwanted trajectory. So, begin with a chat, explain your reasons for wanting to leave, give your organization an opportunity to hold you back with a counter-offer if they feel so, stand firm if you wish to, and then send out your official resignation mail.

Help make the transition

Once the decision to leave is made from both sides, make sure you serve out the notice period properly. It is not only a contractual obligation but also a moral duty to help fill the void created by your departure. Offer to help train the person who will carry out your duties. Ask for input from your supervisor regarding the priorities for your final days. You may request for a reduction in the tenure of notice period, and it is the discretion of the organization to accept it or not. Notice period should be served as discussed and mutually agreed upon by your supervisor. Remember, every new offer will push you to join as soon as possible, and every organization would like you to serve out the notice period. This is a tug of war where you are the being pulled apart and you need to balance this out properly.

Notice Period Salary

You have the right to be paid during notice period as per the policy of the company, at the same time it is the company’s prerogative to deduct the shortfall from your full and final settlement in case you do not serve the contractual notice period. You may negotiate with the new organization that it should be willing to pick up this tab in case they want you to join sooner. Do not exit leaving behind a financial hole in your name; it will come back to haunt you when you least expect it in the course of your career.

Handover company’s assets

Handover all the assets of your company smoothly and carefully. You do not want the company to chase you later.  Remember assets do not include only hard assets like computer, files or I-cards, but also soft assets like information, knowledge, mail trails and contacts. Seamless knowledge transfer is the single most important need of an organisation for business continuity in these times. Prepare a comprehensive handover document that spells out all details so that your incumbent is fairly clued in. In case you are using any data tools or software, make sure you advise your superiors on the same and share the user name, passwords, etc.  

Clear dues from the market

This is important so as to ensure there are no loose ends in terms of collections and pending payments from the market left for your successor. Nothing shows gratitude and accountability like a job that’s done well. You may also be having samples from the company. Make sure you maintain a list of these and hand them over before you leave.

Be prudent

Some employees become over-enthusiastic post landing the next job, and begin bad-mouthing the old company, or begin inciting others to leave too. This is strictly avoidable. You will not make friends; instead you will only alienate your ex-colleagues and earn a poor reputation for yourself. Remember the loyalties of those who you are leaving behind lie with the organisation, not with you. Share your happiness of the new job, not your misery of the old one.

On their part, employers must handle an employee’s resignation and exit with dignity, professionalism, and grace. A few guidelines are critical here.

Have a clear policy: Revisit the employment contract today and revise it if it’s not clear and fair on exit policy. When a new employee joins, tell them about exit policy as clearly as about the other HR policies.

Train your managers: Senior people in the organization must know the policies and rules related to an exit, at the same time must recognize the empathy it requires. They are the face of any organisation and if they do not handle exits properly, the company would earn a bad reputation over time.

Be gracious: Try to retain a good employee. It leaves a good memory from both sides. If they do not agree to stay back, do not force them by making things difficulty, thank them for their time at your company, focus on the positives of their time in the company, and view it as an opportunity to refresh your team. Being passive aggressive or taking the exit of a subordinate as a personal affront will only end up hurting both sides

Offer assistance: It may feel like the last thing you want to do in the moment, but offering your employee a smooth transition out can show them how much you care. Ensure a comfortable environment for serving notice period and for managing the handover process. In case of shortened notice periods, stick to the policy and do not showcase favouritism.

No bad mouthing: Sometimes, after the exit of the employee, the managers begin belittling or negating the contributions of the exited employee. Completely avoid this, as any current employee, new or old, would feel demotivated and disenchanted with an organization that doesn’t value its employees. All organizations have grown with the help of employees—past and present and it’s important to make them feel a part of that growth.

Timely remuneration: Ensure the employees need not have to follow up for their full and final settlement. It is equally important to close the chapter just as gracefully as you began it.

Friends in legal field tell me that in the last few months of COVID, trust has taken a beating and legal cases between employers and outgoing employees are at an all-time high. Do ensure from both sides you do not fall prey to this game where no one is the winner.

Ravi Saxena

Written By

 Ravi Saxena laid the foundation of one of India’s premium brand of healthy and innovative kitchen appliances, Wonderchef in the year 2009. Armed with an MBA degree from IIM Ahmedabad, Mr Saxena began his professional career when he joined VIP Luggage as the Brand Manager for soft luggage business. His brand Skybags had been stagnant for the past many years and was a poor cousin to the main business of moulded luggage. Coming with fresh ideas, a research-based approach (branded ‘theoretical’ until proven right), and boundless enthusiasm, there was a path-breaking decision that he took which changed the course of the brand forever and it sky-rocketed over the next few years to become the mainstay of the organization.

He devoted a lot of years in spearheading and managing several brands and diverse businesses by launching as many as twelve new businesses were to name a few were VIP Luggage, Sodexo India. Ravi joined Landmark Group to head their hospitality business and launched many new brands in India and abroad like - CityMax Hotels, Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Fun City gaming zones, Yellow Chilli restaurants with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and Polynation Food Courts.

Having launched as many as twelve new businesses, Mr. Ravi finally decided to become a full-fledged entrepreneur in 2009. This was the time when Wonderchef was born.