Saturday, June 14, 2008

Don't Burn the Bridges

From the first word to your boss to the last bye, managing a job change is a fine art

In today's corporate world, it is most likely that you will change five to six (if not more) jobs during a career spanning 30-35 years. Managing these transitions and continuing with your relationships is a fine art in itself.

How and when do you communicate your intention to resign? Talk to your boss first (even if he is the reason for you to look out in the first place). Refrain from talking to 20 colleagues and avoid the situation where he has already heard it through the grapevine and is waiting for you to disclose. Skip the "I am leaving for personal reasons" routine. This will fall flat. Give your reasons for seeking a change (give objective reasons and don't make it a ranting session). Political correctness is the key here. Keep the meeting brief. Let your intention to move on sink into him.

Wait for a couple of days before discussing your relieving date. Don't pester for an early exit. If you have a notice period, serve it. Once the date is agreed upon, initiate a structured handover.

Resign only if you are 200 per cent sure about moving on. Do not use your new offer to renegotiate salary and role in the current organisation. It pays off in the short run, but harms for sure in the long run. It ruins your reputation among your colleagues and in the search firm which facilitated the new offer. It may also upset the company that made the offer.

There is no point playing cat and mouse games about where you are joining (more often than not, the boss knows, it is indeed a small world!). Be upfront and honest on this (unless you are bound by an NDA—non-disclosure agreement—which is rare). There is a naive school of thought which believes that your boss will call up your prospective employer and bad mouth you. If he is that type, he can do worse—bad mouth you after you join there. Very rarely do bosses do that.

The period between your resignation and being relieved is called the golden period. Not much work, fewer meetings and plenty of farewell lunches. This could be one week to a month and, in some cases, up to three months. Do not fall into the trap of believing that since you are moving on, it doesn't matter what you do in the last few days and display cheeky and irreverent behavior. This is professional harakiri. Remember the entire eco-system is observing and the word would spread. Your big boss could be the golfing partner of senior folks in the new company. The world of senior management is interconnected.

Hand over the job to the identified successor in a professional manner. Spend time with him, give your insights into the challenges and introduce him to the various stakeholders. Update him on the status of various projects, complete the appraisals of employees working for you and give him a handing over dossier so that he can hit the ball out of the park on taking over. Reassure your company that in case they need help later (unless you are joining competition), you will always be available.

Ironically, a person in the golden period becomes an emotional dustbin for malcontent employees. They would like to ascribe statements to you, add their own spice and spread it around. They are actually legitimising their own feelings and abusing your name. A karmic and dignified silence is the best prescription.

In today's world, changing jobs per se is not a crime, but the way you go through the handing over process and move on to the new job and yet retain your old relationships impacts your career in the long run.

Life more often than not resembles Bollywood screenplays and the same boss could land up in your new office, or it could get acquired by your old organisation and you may have all your ex-colleagues back as bad pennies. Was it Galileo who propounded that the world is round?;

No comments:

Post a Comment

Page Hits