Leave it better than you found it

I’ve heard this advice given regarding environmental issues for years.  If you go to a park, leave it better than you found it.  If you go to the beach, leave it better than you found it.  I think the same advice applies to your job.  When you leave your job, leave it better than you found it.

I have believed for many years that you can tell something about a person’s true character by the way they leave employment.  Here are a few specifics that are telling:

1.  Giving adequate notice – leaving your current employer in a lurch to take a new job is irresponsible.  Now, what constitutes “adequate” may differ from one position to another.  Two weeks is considered a minimum.  Some contracts require much longer.  Know what your employment agreement says, and honor it.  If your new employer wants you to disregard the notice requirement, be dubious of the new employer.  I, personally, won’t hire anyone who will blow off a notice, because they are just as likely to do the same thing to me.

2.  Training your successor – If you’ve been on your job awhile, you know things you don’t even know that you know.  Transferring that knowledge may be a challenge, but you should try.  Make notes for your replacement.  Go over documented procedures to be sure they are still current and as clear as possible.  Do what you can to set up your successor for success.  I’ve run into a few people in my life who were anxious for their employer to “miss them” and realize how much they had done for the company.  With that in mind, they didn’t try to give all the information they could to the new employee.  They wanted to leave them in the dark.  Remember, too, that everyone doesn’t learn like you do.  I’ve been guilty of this before.  I like for someone to give me the big picture and let me work it out from there.  I once tried to train a replacement that way, and unfortunately, left her feeling a little abandoned.  It wasn’t my intent, and I learned from it.  Ask your replacement what you can do to best help them learn the new job.

3.  Staying motivated through your notice – When you get a new job, you’re certainly anxious to get started on it.  It’s easy to let the attitude toward the position you’re leaving go sour, or at least ambivalent.  Try to work to the end with the same energy you had when you started.  Give your current employer your full attention and energy until the last minute on the job. 

Character and integrity are exhibited when you do these three things.  Remember, the world is getting smaller everyday.  Whatever you do can come back to haunt you or to help you later.  Be diligent, be committed, be responsible.  Leave your job better than you found it.

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