The Best Way to Quit When You Lead a Team

The Best Way to Quit When You Lead a Team

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If you’ve landed a new job, your mind is probably geared towards the future. As you daydream about strategic plans for your new position, don’t forget about your current role. Before moving on, you also want to keep in mind how you’ll leave your current position gracefully. If you’re in charge of a team of people, you want them to remember you fondly and be well-prepared to transition to new leadership. 

For instance, let’s say that you are getting ready to leave your company, so you finish a project that has been meaningful to you during your tenure. But that leaves you with limited time before you move to your new role, so you don’t leave adequate training materials for your successor or leave meaningful assessment time for your team. 

Abrupt or hurried exits tarnish any legacy you might have had. Instead, you should take the following steps to make your transition as smooth and meaningful as possible. 

Collect information about how your position will be refilled.

Before you tell your team the news, collect as much information as you can about how your position will be filled. Will your company be posting a new listing so you will still be there to train your replacement? Will they re-organize the corporate structure to create a position that performs slightly different duties than yours? 

Whatever their plan, it’s important to have this transitional information ready when you tell your team the news. This way, they will be able to comment on what they might want in your successor – or even contribute to writing the job description. 

To alleviate fear, be as specific as possible about your reasons for leaving.

If you’re leaving, your employees may wonder if you know something they don’t. If you’re jumping ship, does that mean they should as well? 

So, be as honest with them as possible, while remaining positive, or at least neutral, about your status with the company. Perhaps your spouse has accepted a position across the country. Maybe you are moving up another rung of the corporate ladder. Whatever your explanation, put their minds at ease that your resignation shouldn’t mean they need their own exit plans.  

Encourage your team members and ways for them to stay in contact with you.

Make your transition as meaningful as possible to your team members by noting their achievements and what you remember most about their time working with you. This can be mentioning specific projects they excelled in at team meetings, or sharing handwritten letters about their accomplishments you most recall. 

Further, you want to make sure your team members know how to stay in contact with you even as your email changes. So, be sure to exchange LinkedIn information or new emails so your chain of communication isn’t severed after you leave. 

Hold a face-to-face gathering, rather than resigning via email.

When managers leave, it’s much more appropriate to let your team know in a meeting in person or on Zoom. You might give them some indication of your intentions before the meeting, so they’re not shocked and can prepare questions. 

At the same time, revealing too much in an email can make it seem like you’re no longer engaged with them or your company; it is too informal to inform them about a serious change to their workplace routines. 

Spend time tracking what you learned together as a team.

Before you leave, spend time as a group discussing your highest highs and lowest lows as a team. This kind of activity helps your team members recognize what they’ve learned from you and from each other, as well as serving as a meaningful transition tool.

“For example, one leader in a pharmaceutical company invited his team to create a timeline on a wall indicating when they joined the division and their highs and lows together. The team spent three hours together, recalling their experiences and what they learned,” suggests Harvard Business Review

Create a “cheat sheet” for your successor.

Part of what you owe your team is as smooth a transition as possible. This comes from making sure your successor knows about expectations already in place. So, create a guidebook they can use to navigate their new role. 

For instance, where are certainly policies stored on your shared company drives? What expectations does your team have for leadership? How do team members prefer to communicate with one another? 

Even if your successor has other ways they prefer to operate, knowing the team’s status quo will help everyone transition more seamlessly. 

Preserving Your Legacy After You Have Moved On

If you’ve secured a new position, you’re probably excited to move on to the next stage in your journey. But you don’t want to ruin the legacy you created at your last job with a shoddy exit. Rather, you want to mark this milestone, both for you and your team members, with meaningful conversations and helpful evaluation. You also want to make sure your predecessor is well-prepared to step into the position seamlessly.

Want more business advice and insights? Find it on our blog!


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