Saying goodbye to a workplace where you have spent a considerable amount of time is never easy. But it can be made into a positive experience by the organization, or be made miserable. Netflix is famous for celebrating when an employee leaves by thanking them and wishing them well, and in contrast, Hubspot is know for firing something and calling it a ‘graduation’.
I have two stories to share on how my departure from two different organizations played out. Both both these stories, there were only good intentions all around, but yet, the executions of the departure were very different. The juxtaposition is instructive on its own.
First story: I said goodbye, and they said Au Revoir
In the first story, I had a meeting with my manager and told him that I accepted an offer with another company, and so was leaving. His immediate response was to check with me if there was anything he could do that will make me change my mind (he also prefaced that by saying that he thinks that the answer is ‘no’). After I said that my mind was made up, he thanked me for everything I had done so far, and said that he will set up meetings with various folks to help me transition my responsibilities.
With my consent, he immediately and discretely told members of my team, set up transition discussions, and then followed that up with an org wide announcement. Then, the entire team got together for a goodbye lunch, with everyone including the manager wishing me well. Finally, before I left, he said that he wishes me the best, but if things don’t work out with the new role, then I am always welcome back.
Second Story: I said goodbye, and they said uh.. wait, what?
In the second story, I had a meeting with my manager and told him that I did not see my skills fitting the role, and that it doesn’t play to my strengths. So, I think serves both the org and me well to plan a transition for me to move on. He tried to convince me otherwise, and this went on for some time. I indulged his thoughts and arguments and made a good faith effort to pursue the avenues he suggested, but it only served to strengthen my initial proposition.
After I made my final decision, he asked to delay my decision until I had a new role. After I found a new role, he asked me to spend a month transitioning my responsibilities to someone else. But for over a week, I did not see any movement in the transition plan. Meanwhile, I am furiously preparing everything for the transition. Until about a week before my last day, there is no news of my departure, and no person or people to transition to.
With just over a week left, on my request, my manager calls the team together to announce my departure, except that he had already mentioned this to each of them private well over a week ago, but didn’t really provide any guidelines to them or to me about who else had been looped in. So, no one spoke to me about it, or to each other, and kept acting like everything was business as usual. It had become an elephant in the room and made everything uncomfortable for no apparent benefit.
Finally, the last few days were a frantic meeting spree with my transition of responsibilities to other folks, and my brain dump spread across multiple documents that was hastily reviewed by the team as my last day at work came and went.
My final goodbye was in an org-wide meeting where my manager thanked me for my contributions and wished me well.