October 4th, 2009

On Leaving:
Whether you are in a commuter relationship or are just changing jobs here comes some more career advice. Once you’ve made the decision to leave your current position, handle yourself with grace and dignity. You want to do everything you can to leave on as high a note as possible.

Resist the temptation to go out with a bang, brutally slagging off everyone you’ve ever worked with, airing all of your grievances in one last blaze of glory.

In my youth I made the mistake of doing exactly that. My rationale was that I was doing those left behind a favor. A change in upper management had occurred six months before I left and I (along with others) really disagreed with how things were being handled.

When I left that company I viciously listed every single “fault” I thought the new management team had. My hope was that someone would listen and things might change for the better for my co-workers. Did they? Heck no.

In all likelihood all I did was ensure that I’d never be eligible for rehire. And it was (and is) a great company.

Another good reason to not burn any bridges is that most industries are rather incestuous. I’ve been in two industries in my career and I’m constantly amazed at how many people you run into repeatedly. You never know when your “new boss” might actually be your “old” boss.

Since my bridge burning days I’ve done everything I can to ensure that I leave on as positive a note as possible. Even when I don’t like how I’m being treated on the way out the door, I’ve bitten my tongue and smiled. Remember: it is only two weeks. You can survive almost anything for two weeks.

Careful Beginnings:
Even more critical as you move from company to company in your career is how you handle yourself in the first few weeks in your new position.

Don’t be that person who comes in (we’ve all met them) and every sentence begins: “At my old job we did XYZ.” Or “This is how we did it at ABC.” Or my personal favorite:“Wow! We had it so much better at MNO!”

Did you now? Shame you aren’t back there, isn’t it??

I know of which I speak. I’ve been on both sides of this: the poor sop having to listen to it until I thought I’d go deaf and even more embarrassing, the idiot saying this every ten minutes.

It is amazing the life lessons we learn through trial and error isn’t it?

Now when I go into a new position, I strive to understand the company’s culture, their business, and their processes. I’m a firm believer in getting my hands dirty and I always want to dig in and do the day to day work myself. I personally find it harder to manage a group of people if I don’t have a solid working knowledge of what their day’s work is like.

If I’m going to bring in key learnings from my previous jobs I present it differently, not referencing my previous company with brain numbing monotony. Ask questions, lots of questions and find out what is “our” philosophy here at ABC Company?”

So there you have it: leaving and beginning with grace, Lara-style.

Any other words of advice for me as I head off into my new career?

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