It's not easy to ask coworkers, family members, or colleagues for help because you don't want to tip anyone off, ahead of time. Luckily, we can learn from the mistakes and triumphs of people in high-level roles, where the media's eye is always on them. By seeing how they handle their departures, we can learn effective strategies for quitting the right way.
When it comes to quitting a job, most of the time we are moving on to greener pastures, brighter futures, and a better salary. However, for this post, I'll be focusing on people high up on the food chain--the founders of three large companies who've all recently left their positions at Instagram, Oculus, and WhatsApp.
These examples have a lot to teach us. Each of these founders started their company from the ground up, sold to Facebook, and then remained at the helm after they sold. However, with time, all three of these rock star entrepreneurs decided it was time to jump ship. The way they handled it is great example of how to not just leave your own company, but any company, with poise.
So what is the magic pill for leaving a company the correct way? I've seen a lot of people leave roles over the years. They go on to start their own thing, to consult, or to freelance. Sometimes, they loved their job but needed to move, raise a family, or their spouse got relocated. In other scenarios, they absolutely hated their jobs, and I'm pretty sure they had a calendar hidden in their desk where they checked off the number of days until they could tell their boss that the gig was up.
So, what's the best way to leave? Well, let's start with the one thing you shouldn't do.
The last thing you should do is give the company advice on how they could improve.
Newsflash, you're leaving! Nobody wants advice from someone who no longer works there. If you want to give advice, give it while you work there. Don't be a superhero on the way out.
Most people make this mistake because they actually do care about the company and want to see it improve, but it will leave a bad taste in other co-workers mouths.
Instead, the last thing you should do before you depart is to send out a positive email to the rest of the staff, thanking them and sincerely letting them know that you are always a point of contact for them in the future. No bridges get burned, and you may even find a new job offer or recommendation through that one simple task.
You should be gracious without any constructive criticism at all, even if the feedback is generally positive.
In the case of high profile roles, this thank-you should be public. Here's how three successful founders who left their roles handled it. Two of them were gracious and one was not.
Instagram's founders cited creativity as their new mission.
It isn't hard to write a quick email that will make you and the company you are leaving look good. Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger did just that on Sept. 24. They claimed to want to be inspired again, and it makes their exit look really good as a result. No one can blame them for wanting to hit the reset button on their career. Whether or not this was the real reason for their departure doesn't matter. The point is that they didn't damage anyone's reputation in the process.
The co-founder of Oculus, Brendan Iribe, reportedly began growing apart from Mark Zuckerberg in terms of creative direction for Oculus and left on Oct. 22. Instead of badmouthing Zuckerberg for his differing views, he publicly thanked him. In his statement he said that he hadn't taken a break in nearly twenty years. Based on my experience, I don't think anyone can blame him for an exit as humane as that.
The founder of Whatsapp shows us what not to do.
All of us are tempted to badmouth our boss, but even if you are Brian Acton and you started Whatsapp, it's not cool to do it. However, he tweeted several months after his departure last September that it was time to delete Facebook, which tarnishes the fact that he left Whatsapp to focus on nonprofit work.
No matter what, always leave on a positive note, because you never know when your paths may cross again. Why close a door on future opportunities? Just smile, say thank you, and keep your head held high.