Please don’t burn that bridge…

bridge

I spend so much time talking about how to get a job – but never about how to leave a job. Sometimes that says just as much about you as a person as your tenure with a company. If you have been in the games industry for any amount of time – you either fortunately or unfortunately have had to leave a job, a company or a project. Sometimes it’s for greener pastures, and the move was instigated by you, but sadly sometimes you might be laid off, or even terminated for whatever reason (not getting into that in this post). Leaving a job is never an easy thing to do. There is always going to be some fall out- leaving close friends who started out as co-workers, leaving a project that you loved or even hated, and leaving what you know to go to something that is unknown. Perhaps there is relocation involved so a new city is coming into play, or maybe it’s just time to try something new – will you be successful? All of these can factor into some stress and anxiety at the job. I’m here to share an adage that my first “real” boss shared with me. She said to me, “Angela – people remember how you leave a company, not how you came into a company.” Huh? Whaaaaattt? That always struck me as an interesting thought. How can people not remember how you came into a company? I thought first impressions mattered most.

Here’s where that thought proves wrong. People always remember how you left things. Did you leave things undone? Did you dump a ton of incomplete work on your co-workers? Did you start to speak really poorly of your boss/co-workers/company? Are you the person who used to come in and work and get things done, and now you are more concerned with getting your iTunes library off of your computer, even though you still have two weeks before your actual leaving date? Are you being a punk? Do you now look at your co-workers, who up until two days ago were really talented people, but now are bottom feeders at that crap company that you used to work for? Not cool! So not cool.

Another way to sour your last adieu is the ever popular “goodbye email.” I’ve read many of these in the 15-plus years I’ve worked in HR. Some are funny, some are sad, and other just make the writer look like a tool. My absolute personal favorite, and they don’t happen that often, but when they do – oh man – they are good, are the goodbyes that casually refer to “some people,” or “you know who you are” What? My advice is to keep it short, keep it sweet, and if you have to give a shout out to someone- do it in person. Go up to them and thank them in person with a handshake. It’s more meaningful, and it also means that you care enough to make sure you told that person to their face that you were appreciative of their support, honesty, whatever it is. Thank you should mean something.

In sports they always talk about finishing strong. That is how you want to leave company – on the best terms possible. Be gracious, be kind, be the best version of yourself. I’ll say it again- we all work in a VERY small industry. Everyone knows everyone. People have long memories. It would be a bummer if the you getting hired in five years misses out on a great job, because the you that you are today is a punk when leaving a job. The last two weeks – because you have given proper notice- (another “DO” on everyone’s list) should be when you tie up loose ends, complete those lingering tasks, and complete what you were supposed to get done- to the best of your ability. It’s about building bridges for the future, not burning them, keeping connections going, not shutting them down, and by all means leaving a door open, as you just never know where the road will take you, or your previous co-workers.

Until next time…

  • ThomasMul10

    A truly thoughtful and insightful post. I always thought that first impressions were the most important, and although they still are, I’d never looked at it from the opposing perspective.

    Can’t wait for the next post, I love reading Baker’s Dozen!

  • Lorenzo Salvadori

    I second you on that! It’s absolutely important how you leave a job. It’s also about being professional. When it comes to leaving a job, and maybe you’ve given a long notice, it’s normal to feel demotivated, as you’re going to leave anyway and you just want to move on with your life. But I think that it’s a matter of respect to the people you’re working with to honour your duties as if it was the very first day. And I honestly see no reason on earth in being mean to people you’ve worked with. You’re gonna leave anyway, and even if sometimes things didn’t work as you wanted, this is not going to change. So see this as an opportunity to “fix” those broken relationships, and not just because “you never know”, but because it’s important. 🙂