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Maintaining professional relationships when leaving a senior role

When leaving a business as a senior member, it is important to go out on good terms. With bridges intact you can hold on to good contacts within the industry - but how? Dan Heathcote, director at recruitment specialist ESA Group, shares his advice.

Check your contract

When handing in your resignation, it is important to check the finer details in your contract to make sure you are following company policy. It is standard for those in senior positions to have longer notice periods that are usually around the three-month mark, so it is best to check the actual length before making any promises to your new employer.

Remember, you need to stay professional at all times during your notice period. This will mean telling all clients and contacts about your leave in good time so they understand exactly what is happening and who their new point of contact will be. If you are moving to a competitor, you may be able to negotiate an earlier leave, but check your contact to see if there are any stipulations on when you can contact former clients.

Don’t ‘clock out’ early

Remaining professional and co-operative throughout your notice period is essential for keeping your colleagues on your side. A senior resignation invariably causes disruption, so be prepared to answer questions from colleagues, whether this is in a formal meeting, passing in the corridor or out and about on lunch. Come prepared with answers and solutions (that have been agreed by bosses) to any fears people may have around your departure, so you can put their minds at ease as soon as possible.

Keep it positive

When it comes to telling the team about your departure, the news will usually have to be communicated in an appropriate way – and the board will usually decide how this is handled. Again, if you don’t want to burn bridges it is best to stay co-operative and allow the message to be passed around in a way they see fit. While people may be disappointed to see you go, it can also open up a great opportunity for those in middle management to climb the career ladder, so you may want to frame your departure as positive and exciting.

Giving constructive feedback

Exit interviews are the perfect time to offer feedback to your employer, both positive and negative. This can be a time to praise the colleagues who have helped you or been a standout among the crowd, as well as identifying any areas where the business could be run more effectively. Remember to thank your employers for the opportunities, and keep it professional. While you may be tempted, it is not the time to bring personal matters into the mix.

Saying goodbye

At the end of your notice period, make sure you tie up all the loose ends as part of your handover to ensure continuity. Finish all of jobs to the best of your ability, and inform anyone involved of any still outstanding.

To make the transition seamless, create a handbook or series of guides to explain your usual daily tasks, especially if others do not regularly work on them. This not only shows your dedication to the company but also that you want to see its continued success after your departure.

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