Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’ve been in my job for twenty-five years. I am ready to retire. My
timing has lots of meaning for my personal life. It’s not so good for the
company. But after decades of being a workaholic I am finally ready to
put myself first. I do not want to constantly have to defend that
decision. How can I retire gracefully, and not undercut all the effort
I’ve put into being a model employee. Advice?
Headed for the Exit
You sound like you’ve served your time and made your big decision.
But there’s lots of smaller ones in the wake of your pronouncement.
One big question: Do you expect to walk away and never speak to
anyone again? And some smaller ones: Are you willing to help out the
colleagues you’re leaving by answering questions? Do you expect to be
paid for your time and advice? Do you care what would happen if you’d
ever bump into your former boss at a concert or the supermarket?
Write your letter of resignation with strong themes of appreciation for
the years you’ve worked there, acknowledgement of how the company
has grown and changed, and sense of confidence in your colleagues
who’ll be taking over your duties. It’s fine to include some chest
thumping about your accomplishments, and even some carefully
worded suggestions about the challenges the firm is facing and ideas
about how to respond to them. Say that your timing is a function of
personal reasons, and not subject to change….. So please don’t ask
me to change my mind or exit date. But add that if the firm wants to
develop a consulting relationship with you for the transition you’ll be
happy to discuss that, subject to your personal plans and goals. Focus
your inner and outer dialogues on the future.
Also, try to avoid getting
sucked into conversations with disgruntled colleagues who’re going to
be living under the ongoing regime without you. Also know that from
the moment you give an exit date you will inexorably change from
“one of us” to “outsider,” a status that you should quietly embrace,
because you’re getting what you most want: your freedom.