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Leaving Your Company as a Manager

Changing Company
Career Path

17 June, 2021

Eric Rabinovich
Eric Rabinovich

VP of Engineering at Aspectiva - a Walmart company

Eric Rabinovich, Vice President of Research and Development at Aspectiva, advises leaders to soften the blow when leaving their company in order to put those left behind in a position to recover from the upheaval.

Problem

Leaving a company as a leader can be really tough. When a leader decides to move on, it’s not something that you can take for granted.

We live in times where, unlike our parents, who would spend forty years at a company before retiring, people change companies all the time. Leaving as a leader has many implications and will take its toll both on the company as a whole and the people who you were leading previously. Whether they believe in you as a leader or not, they’re still following you regardless.

Once you leave, that says something. The message sent is that you don’t believe in the company or the work anymore. People may assume that you think that things are taking a turn for the worst. You can mitigate these negative byproducts by preparing for the transition before you actually resign from your role.

Actions taken

The number one thing that you can do for your company: try not to leave a void in your absence. If you’re a good leader, you’ve raised good leaders behind you. You can promote one in order to replace you after you leave.

Look at every person on your team who you manage. Who is most suited to fill the gap that you will be leaving behind? Communicate that you are here with them throughout this transition. Egos may be bruised. That’s okay. Leave the emotions aside and explain your decision rationally.

If no internal candidates come to mind immediately, offer your presence during the recruitment and onboarding process. This will send a positive message to those that you will be leaving behind; you are not giving up on the company, you are simply moving on to the next leg of the journey. Give as much guidance as possible. You know the role better than anybody else. Explain to your leadership what is required in order for your replacement to succeed.

Then, there will be those that watch you leave and who decide to leave as well as a result. Many others will likely feel just as shaky, even if they do not actually quit themselves. Try to understand what motivates those people. You can help the company that you’re leaving by opening the door to a conversation about what you believe is sending them away. Remind them that they are not a part of the company just because you happened to be managing them. There are many different factors that guide their decisions as professionals.

Some people see a leader that they love, leave, and think that it’s the end of the world. This is untrue in 99.9% of cases. You are not the first leader to exist in this world, and I certainly will not be the last. Explain that the sun will come up. The birds will sing. Leave the anxiety aside. Start with your heart. Everything will be fine.

Lessons learned

  • Some managers will leave a company and not even care about the damage that they cause those left behind. You need to care, even if you will not be their manager anymore.
  • If you know that you will be leaving soon, start writing down every single thing that you do daily, even tasks that you don’t think twice about. You have a lot of responsibilities that will not be found in any job description. What are you in charge of? What do you control?
  • Leaving without notice can be hurtful. Decide in advance when would be most appropriate to stop coming into the office. Cutting things off and moving out too soon may disrupt some of your former reports and colleagues.
  • As you prepare to leave, gradually begin delegating your biggest responsibilities to the most worthy team members that you manage. This will ease the pain and ensure that the burdens that you carry as a leader do not become stuck in production.

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