Leaving well-liked colleagues and good friends behind is one of the toughest parts of moving on from a company. Whether you've been downsized or are moving on to bigger and brighter opportunities, you're sure to miss the friendly face you shared morning coffee with or the jokester who added levity to every department meeting. Take time to connect with those closest to you and say your personal goodbyes before you walk out the door for the last time.
Organize a goodbye lunch or after-work happy hour with your immediate team so everyone can celebrate your departure in style. Use the time to relax, share stories and explain the things you’ll remember and miss about them. Or, if you prefer, take only one or two of the people you have the closest personal relationships with so you can have one-on-one conversations.
Take time to write personal notes to your colleagues before your final day in the office. Say something kind, like noting a time you were given a professional boost or got a helping hand when you needed it most. For example, you might write, “I'll never forget my first day in the office when I was going crazy trying to get the copy machine to work. You stopped what you were doing, fixed the machine, showed me how to use it and then brought me a cup of coffee. I will always appreciate that kindness.”
General Email or Memo
If you want to say goodbye in a way that's more professional than personal, send out a group email or distribute an office-wide memo. Let everyone unfamiliar with your departure know where you're going and express your appreciation for having the opportunity to work together. For example, “As many of you know, I'm moving out of state to take a job as a director for a large advertising firm. It has been my great pleasure to work with such a talented and creative group of people over the last several years. Please accept my best wishes for continued success in the future.”
What to Avoid
If you're leaving your job under less-than-ideal circumstances -- like being terminated, downsized or quitting because of internal conflict -- resist the urge to lob any parting shots. In this case, no goodbye is better than an unprofessional goodbye. Think twice before you trash your boss or let your colleagues know what you really thought about them all of these years. Avoid burning bridges because you never know when you might need someone's help or business in the future.
Take Care of Loose Ends
If you are leaving to take another job, make sure your departure is professional. Provide adequate notice to your supervisor and finish any outstanding projects. Offer to help train your replacement if one is hired while you are still on the job. Collect contact information toward the end of your tenure so you can maintain professional connections in your new position. Taking steps to ensure your transition is easy on your colleagues is a nice way to say goodbye.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.