Conscious uncoupling…and moving on (at work)

Carol Rosati, the newest member of the Chemistry team, has joined as Managing Partner of Chemical Connections, a network of senior businesspeople working on ways to give everyone their opportunity to be brilliant at work, helping more people find the role they’d be brilliant in, regardless of who they are. Click here to read more about Carol’s ambitions for the role and read on to find out how she’s made the work transition…

Earlier in my career, there was no social media. No instant vehicle to announce to the world that you’re departing X and joining Y. With all the avenues at our disposal today, it’s a whole different ball game. When I recently announced that I was leaving my employer of almost 11 years, I was contacted by many people offering congratulations, but – perhaps more surprisingly – also by people asking for advice about planning their next career move and wondering what the thought process behind my own had been.

And so, here we are. My thoughts on the process, gathered and turned into something of a ‘how-to guide’ on consciously uncoupling from your job and moving on to your next role as smoothly and painlessly as possible. Caveat: it’s not as easy as it may first seem…

Taking the plunge.
A long time can pass between concluding that it’s time to move on and actually doing something about it. As you move from one state to the other, you’ll probably go through many stages – just like in any other major life event. Perhaps you start off feeling apathetic or it’s simply a fear of the unknown stopping you from acting. If you’ve been in situ for a number of years, anxieties can really be amplified.

But there’s always a straw that breaks the camel’s back. You get to a point where the level of payback is no longer enough to keep you in place, so you spring into action with absolute resolve to find that new role.

The cheating stage.
There’s no getting away from it: going to interviews while you’re still in a job feels a bit like cheating. It didn’t sit well with me, especially because I’m used to being so open.

Deciding what to do with the next chapter of your life is huge and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It comes with many contributory factors that need to be managed, both logistically and emotionally. It’s certainly not easy continuing to work with colleagues who have been a large part of your day-to-day life when you know you’re planning to resign and effectively ‘leave the tribe’.

Manage your exit with grace.
As I was told early on in my career: you never know who you might meet again. The same goes for organisations. The impression you make when someone is exiting a business (and, conversely, during the on-boarding process) is so important. The internet has made reviewers of us all. Apps like Glassdoor can have a massive impact on the outside world’s perception of you as an employer and can influence your ability to attract and retain talent.

Communication is key.
As a general rule, human beings don’t like change or uncertainty, so once you’ve completed all the formal communication that comes with a resignation, it’s a good idea to make sure that other communication channels are kept open, too. That way everyone knows what the plan is and what’s expected of them. Communication during this transition period, both internally and externally, is key.

Working your notice.
It’s true: being in the office during your notice period comes with its challenges. You’re no longer part of the future of the organisation but you still feel part of it. It can be awkward for all parties involved – particularly if your colleagues feel you have pledged your allegiance elsewhere – and can lead to some interesting behaviour.

I’ve heard many stories, over the years, of people effectively being ‘excluded from the tribe’ once word gets out. There can be feelings of rejection or loss on both sides, like a divorce or bereavement. The key to overcoming this is having a planned exit, so that everyone knows what you will be doing in the final weeks and you know what is expected of you. This is more of a challenge if you’re not always office-based, but if colleagues are kept abreast of your movements and activities, you’ll still feel part of the team – plus you’re more likely to be kept in the loop and less likely to feel alienated.

Your last day. The final send-off.
It leaves the most lasting impression of all. Whenever possible, it should be a ‘thank you’ and well wishes from both sides. These days, social media makes the reach of that final impression so much greater and can have huge brand impact. Bad news or negativity travels at the speed of light and is shared with as twice as many people as good news or positive feedback.

New job nerves.
Parked on the grid, in limbo, waiting to start your new role, with time to reflect on the future and the great unknown, can be a sobering experience. You’ve lost your tribe, your identity, and your day-to-day routine. Once again, communication is key. I’m pleased to report I’ve joined a group of the most welcoming people on the planet. I received so much contact from them before I joined, I basically felt part of the team even before I walked through the door. On-boarding is so very, very important.

Day one.
By the time I arrived on day one, everything was ready. I had meetings set up and masses of information at hand to help get me oriented. Everyone made a point of saying ‘hello’ and offering to help. The natural curiosity of the people who work here is infectious and the embodiment of inclusion.

And by day three? I had inadvertently said ‘us’ rather than ‘you guys’ – the fastest closure and conversion ever and a real testament to the culture of Chemistry, where we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be brilliant at work.

Jun, 30, 2017