A very nice piece of sage counsel from a Twitter pal, Christopher Demers, on his blog (here) about the manner in which you take your leave from work, got me reflecting on my own recent experiences. I was employed as Global Head of Operations for a service line within the consulting division of a multi-national organisation until June 2012, when I was made redundant. The recession had yet to turn to recovery and I faced an uncertain future. I could have let anger and frustration overwhelm me. I chose another path. I’m not for one moment suggesting that my experience of this process is the same as that which others have gone, or are going through. However, I do think the way in which you say your goodbyes can be just as positive if the decision behind your departure is not of your own making as it might be if it were. To demonstrate what I mean, I reproduce here my email to my friends and colleagues on my final morning. I have changed the names to respect the privacy of those mentioned.
My redundancy consultation period has run it’s course and efforts to find me an alternative role within the business have drawn a blank.
Accordingly, today is my last day in the business and I will be leaving with immediate effect.
Whilst I am personally disappointed at this turn of events, I leave on good terms, satisfied that I have made a difference and some very good friends. I have learned an awful lot both personally and professionally and will be eternally grateful to each and every one of you for all your support and the small, unremarked kindnesses that make working here such a pleasure.
I hope you will forgive an indulgence in some personal thank yous in a group email.
Firstly to Trevor, Dave and to Charles: for placing such a high degree of trust in me and for sharing with me their vision, drive and ambition to truly transform our clients’ businesses;
to Mabel for her untiring and uncomplaining support and counsel;
to Tony for giving me the benefit of his insight and experience and for keeping us grounded in reality;
to Ethel, George, Peter, Stuart and Marvin for showing me how it should be done and for giving me the opportunity to contribute to their efforts;
to Mavis for her dogged determination in delivering for clients and keeping me on schedule when I’m supposed to be helping her out;
to Louise and Iris for delivering such high quality work under pressure and giving us all a lesson in how to do so with a ready smile and, in Iris’s case, a line of baked goods that would make Mary Berry green with envy;
to Violet and Rich, for their infectious energy and for all they’ve taught me about what the younger generation need from work and from their leaders;
to Gunther and Saul for teaching us how to see things differently and beautifully;
to Brenda for her transatlantic friendship, enthusiasm and good humour in the face of British bawdiness;
to Barry for the honour of asking me to coach and mentor him and not complaining at the infrequency of my attempts to do so;
to Doris, Laura, Christina, Esme, Blodwen, Tina, Wilhelm, Serge and Helen, our counterparts in the US, for making the world feel smaller and distance an irrelevance;
to Esther, Sophie and Sara from HR for all their efforts on our behalf as we recruited to double the size of our team;
to Derek and Jasper in Central Finance for their unsung work in getting all our debts cleared down so that bonuses could be paid out;
to Owen, Erica and team for guiding me through our sometimes tortuous back office processes.
And lastly, to Tony and Carla who gave me my first break back in 2009 – I hope I haven’t let you down.
I know you will all go on to greater success and, I hope, personal happiness and good health.
I leave you with my very best wishes. Maybe you’ll ask me back some day…
My thanks were heartfelt and sincere and are just as valid now as the day I wrote them. It’s a small world. You never know when you might meet former colleagues again and it might just be as a prospective client or as a hiring manager at another firm you are applying to. The manner of your leaving might be the last memory they have of you. How you face that opportunity might make all the difference.