It is important to avoid burning bridges at work, that way you can maintain professional relationships

Avoid Burning Bridges at Work After a Termination

Avoid burning bridges at work, even if you have been blindsided by a termination. You may want to lash out, but that could damage your career. Read more for our tips.

At Gardner Employment Law, we are skilled at helping our clients deal with terminations and exit strategies. Give us a call if you need advice on how to avoid burning bridges at work.

How Do I Leave on Good Terms After a Termination?

There are three key elements to leaving a job on good terms: diplomacy, hard work, and creating a plan with your boss. Don’t leave on a sour note.  Think carefully about your next steps.

The key to remaining on good terms is diplomacy. No matter the relationship, always be amicable with your team members, including your boss. It’s a small world, and you never know who may be able to help you in the future.  As we discuss in “Look for a Benefactor Before Negotiating,” your professional relationships from past jobs can serve as references. This can really help your future job search. If you’re the one initiating the exit, it is customary to give two weeks notice before leaving, although there is no legal requirement to give notice.

You should continue working hard. Just like you, companies want a smooth transition. If you offer to provide assistance in finishing a project or training your successor, you can smooth your transition. Even in the face of a termination, it is important to make sure that day to day operations can continue in your absence.

Create an exit plan with your boss. This can involve how and to whom you will deliver the news of your departure, as well as negotiating your severance pay. Be honest about your wishes and make space to honor your boss’ wishes as best as you can.  The termination decision may have been made by upper management and dictated to your boss.  Since this event can form the foundation for a long standing professional relationship with your boss, especially for references, be open to creating a plan that works for you both.

What to Avoid After a Termination

The cardinal rule to leaving any job is to avoid making a spectacle. As Harvard Business Review suggests, you may be tempted to reveal angry feelings about the termination or the company, either on social media or telling others. The consequences of any theatrics could harm you in the long term. Even if you have legitimate grievances, try to handle them professionally and discretely. That way, you can save the headache and avoid burning bridges at work that are not directly related to the transgressions.

If it involves legal matters, such as discrimination or breach of contract, seek counsel from a good employment lawyer.  You may be asked to sign what is called a “legal release.”  By signing a release, you would waive your right to sue in court over any matters relating to your employment. Even if the employer states that you must sign a release to receive severance pay, wait until you have consulted a lawyer before signing anything.

In addition, make sure you have collected any evidence necessary to support your claim.  Your case will appear stronger if you have strong documentation of the facts.  Legal action can take a lot of time, so it should be a last resort. Only pursue this if you have exhausted all amicable options.

You could be asked by a human resources representative to complete an “exit interview” form.  If you believe that you might have a valid claim against your employer, it is best not to sign or complete anything until you see a lawyer.  The “exit interview” might seem harmless to you, but beware.  You are not legally required to give an “exit interview” on your way out.  You can politely decline.

What Are the Benefits to Not Burning Bridges At Work?

The reason to avoid burning bridges with your previous employer is to preserve a solid professional network and path for success in the future. You want to be able to count on your former coworkers or boss to speak highly of you.  With a positive reputation, you may find a new job quicker or you may have another opportunity at the same company later.

Don’t discount the value of a thoughtful exit strategy and strong network. These can enhance your image and your career.

Strengthen Your Network and Career Strategy

Navigating corporate politics after a termination may seem daunting. If you need assistance honing your exit strategy or if you need legal advice, call us today.

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