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Sales Eye - I quit! (May 31st, 2004)



I quit!

31st May 2004


Last time, we discussed the importance of firing. This week, we turn the tables and provide insights into how an employee should behave when they decide to 'move on.'


Quitting a job is never easy. That said, 90 percent of those who leave their company do so on friendly terms. Companies understand that sometimes people have to move on. All you need to do is handle your departure professionally, and you'll end up with good memories, lots of friends from your ex-company, a nice recommendation, and maybe even a going-away party. That's not too bad!


Unless your employer has cheated you, quitting should be a calm, professional experience. Your goals when quitting should be:


• Stay on a friendly basis with your ex-employer and co-workers;

• Get a good recommendation for the future;

• Don't make enemies;

• Leave the door open for future business cooperation;

• End things with 'class.'


Respect your contract. Poland has a strict set of labor laws that dictate the notice time (wypowiedzenie) an employer or employee needs to give when they decide to end cooperation. If both parties agree (porozumienie stron), that period can be reduced or even eliminated. But this requires both parties. Typically, when someone decides to leave a company, they want to leave as soon as possible. All employers want is enough time to find a replacement and get them trained. Sure, your new employer wants you now, but they can wait. They know the Polish labor code and will understand your decision to respect your contract.


If you walk out on your contract before your legally obliged time, you will achieve none of the above. No recommendation, no friends, no open door, no future cooperation. You will have burnt your bridges. We see this all the time, and we strongly recommend that you do not do it. Good recommendations from your previous employers are the most important thing you have for landing a good job in the future. So don't blow it by breaking your contract.


Be frank at your exit interview. Once you've decided to leave, tell your boss the reasons why. Be honest. If you don't have a good relationship with your direct boss, then speak with someone in HR or a higher-level manager. Most companies really do want to know what went wrong and how they can make things better. If it's about money, just tell them. If you've got a better opportunity, then explain. When people come to us about leaving, we usually start by asking, "Is this decision final?" If we highly respect the individual, we would love to have the chance to renegotiate their terms of employment in order to keep them. Keep that in mind when you think about leaving.


Don't badmouth your employer to other employees. Show some class. Don't run around to all your friends and tell them how you're fed up with the company and have found a much better opportunity. In such situations, you look bad. Show respect for your company and your friends there who have not decided to leave. Good for you that you've found a new job. But be a little humble about it among your co-workers, and don't start telling everyone what an awful company you think it is. It's a golden rule of sales to never speak poorly about your competition - that's also true about your ex-employer.


Don't steal proprietary material. In fact, don't take anything. That includes client lists, forms, files, contracts and databases. Lots of people do this when they leave their company, and it is simply wrong. Not to mention unethical and illegal. Your new employer is hiring you for what you have in your mind, not what you have in your briefcase. If you are a sales professional, you should know your best clients by heart anyway, so you shouldn't need to steal client databases.


Work hard to the very end. The best way to end things 'with class' is to work hard and honestly to the very end. A five-year employee of ours, Halina, recently left us, and did so with incredible class. She worked until 7 or 8pm every day for her last month, fulfilling her responsibilities and ingratiating herself with management. Her reward - eternal respect and a glowing recommendation.


Don't work on your new job while at your old one. Unlike Halina, one of our long-term sales reps announced he was leaving and, despite a three-month notice period, wanted to leave immediately. After he was gone, we found out that he was working for his new company during Lynka working hours - for at least 3-4 months before he left. He was stealing files, contacting our clients in the name of his new company, and even using our computer, telephone, and marketing materials to recruit new customers. His reward - no recommendation, no friendship, and maybe even a big fat lawsuit.


Going to a competitor. Some companies have non-compete agreements. Despite that, many employees leave for the competitor. This is a sensitive area. If you are going to your current employer's 'public enemy #1,' it is unlikely you will remain on good terms. Maybe you don't care, but do keep in mind what your goals are as discussed above. We would suggest that, if at all possible, don't go to your company's most hated competitor - it will look bad to future employers. But if you do, be honest with your current employer, don't steal materials, and don't badmouth your ex-employer during sales calls.


Starting your own company. If you've made the decision to go out on your own, congratulations. But remember, starting a business is a risky venture - over 80 percent of new companies fail. That's a fact. You need a lot of friends and a lot of luck. You don't want to make an enemy out of your ex-employer by being unethical or by breaking the above code of behavior. And the last thing your new company needs is a lawsuit. That's an ominous start to your brand new venture.


You've decided to quit? Good for you. But be professional and show some class. And enjoy your going-away party. Summer is coming, so it's time to get in shape. Lay off those Snickers bars and join a fitness club.


From Warsaw Business Journal by John Lynch, Matt Lynch -"The Sales Brothers"