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Divorcing your employer? be professional about it

Friday September 7 2018

In case of a new job, do not be too hasty to leave before carefully weighing and scrutinising the new deal.

In case of a new job, do not be too hasty to leave before carefully weighing and scrutinising the new deal. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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There are times when you have to cut ties with your employer, either to embark on a fresh gig or take a break from your career.

While there are no hard and fast rules on departing from one’s job, it is advisable to do the sensible thing: keep your cool head and ensure that your exodus is as smooth as it is professional, as opposed to a chaotic and dramatic exit.

And as Mercy Mwirigi, a human resource professional, advises, you are simply changing ship not the sea. Besides, even the most unlikely turnaround is possible, she warns.

Assess the viability of your new job

In case of a new job, do not be too hasty to leave before carefully weighing and scrutinising the new deal. The scrutiny should go beyond pay and allowances. Consider the level of exposure in the new engagement, latitude for full professional expression, career and social growth.

Ask yourself; Is there fairness in pay and appraisal systems? How flexible is the job design? Does it allow you to maximise your skills? Is there significant autonomy? Do the working conditions, policies and practices promote a work-life balance?

Should the new job fall short of any these parameters, it is not a worthy go. Notify your boss and co-workers –by following the right chain of command.

After you have made up your mind to leave, the next step is to discuss your decision with your employer. You could also express it in writing, detailing your reasons for departure. Avoid giving negative reasons for exit. Remember a letter is a permanent record; you never know when it will be retrieved.

As you do this, it is imperative to follow the right chain of command, by first telling your supervisor, who will then relay the message upwards till it reaches the highest authority depending with the hierarchy of your organisation.

It is embarrassing for your line manager to learn about your desire to leave through the office rumour mill.

Sufficient notice

Even as you append your resignation, it is honourable to allow adequate time for the organisation to recruit a replacement for you. Most organisations require a month-long notice. A fortnight-long notice is also considered adequate. Different organisations have different provisions for notice of resignation, depending on the terms of employment. Adhere to this. Handing in your resignation letter on the D-day is as indiscreet as it is unprofessional.

Suggest a replacement

Your exit creates a vacuum in your position, at least in the short-term. Be courteous to offer suggestions for a suitable successor. This could be an assistant or teammate in whose competence you believe. Going out of your way to brief your preferred replacement on the fundamental aspects of this role is both dutiful and diplomatic.

Finish assignments

The excitement of leaving one’s current work station sometimes sows seeds of contempt in most professionals. Be wary. Your discipline and productivity should remain intact even as you adjust your career sails. This departure should never be an excuse for leaving ongoing tasks unfinished: finish every project as you had pledged to do.

Mind you, this last task is usually more significant than the first one. It could also be your legacy within the organisation. It is considered good practice to prepare a hand over report. This may include pending assignments that may have been beyond your ability to complete.


Your current employer may be tempted to intercept your exit by offering an enticing perk to you. This is particularly the case when you are a strategic asset in the organisation.

Even as you consider this sudden improvement of terms of contract, you should not lose track of why you have chosen to leave. Use the counteroffer to negotiate for a better deal with your next employer.

Occasionally, professionals put their departure on ice upon the enticement with incentives. This is a dangerous move. Resist it if you can. Should the need to retrench arise in future because of, say, a cash crunch, you may be the softest target. After all, you had expressed a desire to quit, so why not shed you off?

Exit interview

Though not as common as the entry interview, this interview is equally if not more important.

At this point, you are more inclined to give an honest assessment of the organisation –seeing as you have nothing to lose.

Even as your mind is trained on your new job offer, ensure that you advise the organisation on the various areas that need improvement, change or even a complete overhaul. You will be credited with the change long after you are gone.

Quiet departure

Remember that you are the only one exiting. Your colleagues and, most importantly, the business will remain after you are gone. Refrain from undesirable spectacles at all costs.

Obtain clearance in accordance with the organisational practices. Some organisations require you to clear with all departments upon which you are issued with a release letter.

Pay all your office debts, if any. In case of disputes, bury the hatchet with the concerned persons before calling it quits. Let the exit be as seamless and peaceful as is humanly possible.

Who knows, the tide might turn, and bring you back to where you started! And, surely, you do not want to have egg on your face upon return.