Management Splitsville

Your Resignation/Layoff Checklist

I’m switching jobs over the course of the next week. Been with the current gig for about four years and the stench of idiocy was getting terribly strong, so… Splitsville.

A STATE OF THE JOB MARKET ASIDE: I realize it’s a tough economy right now, but I really had no problem finding a new job in the Silicon Valley.

During the course of one month, I got enough traction for a variety of different gigs to say that, for technical management, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to find a job if you keep the scope of what you want to do broad enough. I’M REALLY SORRY IF YOU’VE BEEN UNEMPLOYED A LONG TIME AND WANT TO YELL AT SOMEONE.

Here are the beginnings of a checklist of things you want to do your last week on the job.

DON’T PROMISE WHAT YOU CAN’T DO: If you’re resigning, you’ll be tempted to over commit on deliverables before you leave. This is guilt talking. You feel bad for resigning and are trying to make up for the fact that you might people leaving in the lurch. Remember that no matter how hard you try, you will become useless in your final days.

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: I totally blew this in past resignations. YES I’LL REWRITE THE IMPORT/EXPORT ENGINE IN TWO WEEKS NO PROBLEM ANYTHING ELSE? I purposely skimped on the deliverables and also completed whatever I committed to with a week to spare because, face it, my engagement level in that last week was minimal.

RESPECT YOUR NETWORK: There are, at least, three people you’ll need to make sure are aware you want to stay in touch with them. I don’t know who these people are because I don’t know who you are or what you do. If you’re looking for a way to identify these people, pick the people that you respect or maybe pick the people you hang out with outside of work. Or both.

No matter where you are in your career, you need to continually develop your network of people because it’s very likely that one of those three people will assist in future employment/opportunity. Personally, I’ve been in high tech for over ten years and every single job I’ve got has either a direct or indirect result of knowing someone from a prior job. You’ll hear the phrase, it’s a small valley. It is.

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: This was easy. Every manager reporting to me, the CEO, and the Director of User Interface. Helped that these were all drinking buddies.

DON’T TAKE CHEAP SHOTS: If you aren’t leaving under the best of terms, you’ll be tempted to send out the scathing email which “sets things right”. This is stupid on many levels. It will negate any positive work you did while you were with the company. Also, you’ll hurt your network because everyone (including those who know that you aren’t insane) will remember you as that freak that yelled in email and didn’t bother to spell check.

Remember, you are leaving and the people you consider to be the problem are staying. It’s not your problem anymore, don’t waste your energy.

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: We had a B- QA engineer at the company who got passed over for a promotion and decided to bail in style. On the last day of his employment, he sent a grammatically painful email which went through his organization, person by person, and hammered them. His incoherent rambling is still posted on some cube walls for its comedic value and no one has a clue that he actually wrote decent test plans.

DO RIGHT BY THOSE WHO WORK FOR YOU & WITH YOU: If you happen to be in a management position, the previous two comments apply to you in triplicate. You’re not allowed to fall prey to the dreaded “short timers’ disease” because you are acting like a leader and representing the company until the second you are out the door. If this doesn’t make sense to you then it’s likely you weren’t supposed to be a manager in the first place.

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE: I’d give myself a solid B in this category. I’ve definitely succumbed to short timers’ disease in the form of daily 4pm exits, but I also decided to give written reviews to all my direct reports in my last two weeks. WELL WRITTEN REVIEWS ARE PAINFUL AND TIME CONSUMING. I was surprised when I handed the final reviews off to our HR and my HR rep said that no other manager had taken the time to do so. HELL YES.

Getting out the door at any job is always a tough proposition. You either want to go and rapidly realize that everything you do in the old job is useless or you’re laid off and you want to punch someone repeatedly. In either case, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only person going to through significant change. The people you’re leaving behind will likely be similarly dazed. Going out in a profane blaze of glory will leave an indelible impression on their confused minds. Is that how you want them to remember you?

4 Responses

  1. As a recently laid off employee of a company that’s going down the tubes, I totally agree with what you’ve said. You can’t go burning bridges when you leave a job. If you get laid off, you might want to kill someone, but the people you’ve met at the job may one day help you get another job. I’ve gotten my last two jobs through contacts I made at a previous employer. It’s a good idea to keep those contacts. You might be the one helping someone else out someday, but don’t overlook the fact that you’ll get help when you least expect it.

  2. disc golf stoner 14 years ago

    Happy to be on the list as a drinking buddy or otherwise.

  3. That’s a pretty comprehensive checklist. I’ve been laid off from my previous three jobs (Huh – looking at the calender, those three jobs lasted a year and a half total. Maybe I’d be better at picking racehorses than employers.), which is kind of like having all that last-minute stress taken away. It adds other stresses, like cleaning out your desk rapidly and uploading your email, but still – they’re not going to ask you to overhaul that server or rewrite stuff on the last day. Once I was asked to take out the trash, I think, but that was about it.

    Unemployment has several advantages over working, but after three months they’ve worn a bit thin.

    Getting another job is tough when more than half of your friends are also unemployed. It adds for surreal conversations, because suddenly you walk around and you are no longer defined by what you do for a living…

    …you’re defined by what you do when you’re not laying around the house hitting reload on Craigslist.

    (insert random plea for job here)

  4. Richard 13 years ago

    Does anyone have any advice…I’ve been offered a severance package in exchange for a letter of resignation and signing a general release. In the Separation Memo, it’s stated that they will not contest unemployment (New York), but will contend that I’ve resigned for personal reasons. Am I liable to get screwed here?

    Steven