Last week there was a very nice “Ask HN” on Hacker News where the person asking had stated that he had decided to move on to a new job and to do that had to quit his job. Since it was his first job switch, he wasn’t too well aware of the whats, hows and whens of the task and hence he turned to the community to guide him. I was really happy to see that there are people who do want to go through the exit process gracefully and amicably. The response the post of extremely well and the members of the Hacker News community shared great insights and experiences and some great recommendations came out of the process. Even I shared my views on the topic as to how staying in touch with my ex-colleagues has helped me get a lot of new business for my venture when I quit my job in 2009.
Most of the comments were expressing the view points as employees but I experienced some (a few) of the recommendations were inclined towards “Screw Employer, Save Yourself”. I found it kind of disturbing to see this kind of sentiment in the community. Even though they were very few it is still disheartening to see that some people think that ways. I think it is important that an employee thinks about his employer whenever he takes a decision as crucial as quitting. This is something that is going to affect the both of you in most of the cases and hence it is important that both parties be considered when making such decisions. Here are my few points about how I expect (or would appreciate) you to quit if you were my employee
- Tell me as early as possible – This is true no matter how big or small your employer is. The scale of the company only affects how much it is going to affect the employer but the fact that the employer is going to be affected is true. The earlier you tell us the more time we get to make a proper exit plan for you and ensure that things that follow go on smoothly. Hasty exits often leave a bad taste in the mouth. Often people blame their employers that they put obstacles in their relieving process but in most of the cases it is just because they had not given enough time to the employer to process everything. If you leave a small company of 5 people, you need to realize that they are losing 20% of their workforce. They need time.
- Finish what you have started – Although this is true for everyone and everything it is exceptionally important for someone who is planning to quit. If you are at a crucial position, handling various projects and managing teams it is expected from you that you either wind up all your projects or give a complete and smooth transition to someone. I would appreciate if you can help me by recommending who you think should be given the project after you leave. If you are a programmer make sure that there is not a single line of code that only you know exists and why it exists. It can be extremely irritating to face a bug and not know where it is coming from.
- Don’t slack around – This is extremely unfortunate that some people simply turn their “work mode” off as soon as they put in their papers and just sit around doing nothing until the final day comes. This “why should I work when I am on my notice period” is actually a major setback to you image on your bosses and colleagues. If the transition is complete and there is nothing going on which requires you critically then instead of sitting around all day diluting the work environment of the office simply ask your employer to relieve you early. I am sure they will oblige. I know that I would.
- Complete the paperwork – Let me tell you something. Even I do not like all the paperwork and processes that I have to maintain as an employer. They irritate me as much as they irritate you. Yet it is due to compliance that these are pushed into my throat which in turn I forward to you. Please complete all the formalities. There was a suggestion in the HN thread that recommends that you do not sign exit papers as it indemnifies the employer. I find it extremely specific and harsh.
- No outbursts please - Every now and then you come across a viral video of someone quitting by making a scene or by writing a very unprofessional letter to the authorities which reaches the internet. I know bosses are not perfect. I know I am not. I am sure you could have the right reasons to be doing such a thing and try to humiliate your boss or at least express your anger but still, please don’t. You need to know this hurts you a lot more than it will hurt us. As long as an employer is offering a position and money he will always find people willing to work for him. You on the other hand could face issues with your next employer if he finds out that you have the ability and experience to do such a thing. Please don’t think that this is a threat. This is the truth and the way things work. You will be an internet hero for a few days but then you will have to go back into the job market.
- Give honest feedback - Sometime people leave because they are not happy. At that point I would want to know what I could have done to have avoided your discomfort. I run a small team and I cannot afford to neglect anyone’s comforts and concerns. I am willing to changes/update my policies and attitudes if that helps making my team happier and hence more productive. I have always mentioned in my earlier posts. I always treat you like a friend and friends are honest to each other. Don’t lie to me in the exit interview and only say nice things because people say that saying bad things in exit interviews is wrong. Tell me what you actually felt. As I said in one of my earlier posts - Employees deserve feedback. Well so do the bosses.
- Stay in touch – Remember, I considered you a friend. And you my friend will be missed. Even if you work for a huge multinational, your teammates will miss you. Keep in touch.
I will be honest with you. It makes me very happy when my colleagues (employees) move on to better jobs and ventures after gaining a lot of experience with me. I take pride in the fact that his association with me and my company added some value to his life and which benefited him greatly. People will come and they will leave but they time that was spent with them and the experience that was gained with them will always stay.
PS: I couldn’t find the original HN thread else I would have definitely linked to it. If you find it do share the link with me. Twitter is the best way to get in touch with me.
Update: Join the discussion on Hacker News here : http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4932329
Update 2: Found the link to the original “Ask HN” post. Find it here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4908815
I have helped many startups in building their products and I would be happy to have a chat with you about your idea. Catch me on twitter at @akhilrex