The Trifecta of Goodbyes

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Yesterday capped an unbelievable 8+ year run with Monogram Foods, a company I love dearly.   When I started in 2006 there may have been 15 people.  Today, north of 1,500 people.  That’s a ton of growth.  The lessons learned are burned into me forever, and I hope the relationships are as well.

So today I woke up a few hours later than my prized 4am routine, after a pretty long Goodbye and tons of emotional energy spent.

Goodbyes are never easy.  In fact, it may be one of the harder things to do in business and life.  In business there are 3 kinds of Goodbyes and they are not all created equal.  

The Trifecta of Goodbyes

  1. Terminating: Parting ways and FORCING a needed goodbye.
  2. A valued colleague leaves: Saying goodbye to a friend who decides to leave
  3. YOU decide to leave.

Let’s focus on #3:  When YOU decide there is a need to say Goodbye.

Here’s one thing I’ve learned:  There’s an internal trigger you need to listen too whenever something “BUGS” you:

When you feel that internal challenge, slow it down, take the time to get it right

A Goodbye is certainly in the “BIG” category.  Think through the process and do it right.

Never wing a big deal.  

Here are some things to consider….

  • Call me Old School, but 2 weeks may not be enough, sometimes far from it.    

    • In general, the greater the impact of your position, the earlier you want to alert people of your intentions, even if they are not fully known.  A month is not too soon….
    • Understand the needs of your company (your boss), your team to handle what your leaving behind.  Think through this before you sit down and develop your best thinking for how to help with a transition.  It doesn’t need to be perfect.
    • Sound risky?  Does this risk your income?  Maybe.  Money is certainly important and different for every person. What you need to weigh is “what is right?” vs. what you NEED.  Then balance that against the value of your reputation.

Income (or lost income) is black and white, there’s a max value associated with a Goodbye timing. Reputation value is not measurable, it’s infinite, and in the Grey.  This is one area where you want to be in the Grey.  Never gamble with your reputation. 

  • Get brutally disciplined with whatever time frame you decide to go with.

    • Now is not the time to squander minutes. Break your day into minutes, not hours.  Make them count, they are now finite.
  • Focus more on PEOPLE than tasks.

    • Yes, you need to get work done and there is risk to “mailing it in” after you state your intentions.  Fight like hell to avoid that.  See the point on reputation…
    • If your deciding on getting a task done (“work”) vs a connection with PEOPLE, choose the later.
  • PEOPLE – Force yourself to try and make others better, yourself.

    1. Share any thoughts/ideas/constructive criticism you have for people you’ve worked with.  Leave it all on the field. People will listen a bit harder knowing you are a bit less guarded.  You can be candid without burning bridges, but be CANDID.
    2. ASK for advice in the context of the future you are pursuing. People you’ve worked with are in the best position to guide you and the same candor you give will usually be reciprocated.
  • Plan your parting message.  Make it count.  If every person were to remember you by your parting message, are you going to be proud of it?

    • We’ve all seen the obligatory “farewell message,” some are better than others.  My only advice is to speak from the heart and express gratitude for those that matter (everyone).  Everything else is style points.

When I sent out my final message at 6:45am yesterday, one of my fellow early bird colleagues bounced back and asked “you did that in 45 minutes?”  It was a long one, & I hate long emails!  I just couldn’t sound bite the final message.  His question was more along the lines of “can you write that much in 45 minutes?”

I answered off the cuff and told the truth:  Of course not, wrote a couple drafts and cleaned it up this morning!

The truth is, while I was technically accurate, I couldn’t be more WRONG.

A solid farewell message, and PROCESS for your GOODBYE should not be the product of a few drafts and few days.  It should be the product of your entire journey, your impact, some lessons learned, and a sincere appreciation for those that made you who you are.

This type of Goodbye process can be a bit painful, and there’s a simple reason:  

Goodbyes aren’t easy.  And that’s the point.  

In sports, in victory OR defeat, there is no better feeling than the exhaustion that results from leaving it all on the field.  Your Goodbye is the equivalent, so do it right.

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