Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

How Not to Leave Your Employer: Lessons from LeBron

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Reaction to LeBron James' decision to play for Miami

AP Photo/Paul Beaty

Saturday evening last week was a quiet one for sports fans. LeBron James had made his announcement, Germany had taken third place in the 2010 World Cup and Spain’s triumph in the final was half a day away. While the action may have stopped, the talking never does, and a stray comment during a discussion on ESPN regarding James’ attitude to his move caught my ear:

“It isn’t so much of what he did but how he did it. LeBron didn’t bother to personally inform his fans and supporters in Cleveland…” The commentator was referring, of course, to James’ decision to join Miami without first informing his decision to home team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Changing employers is part of the marketplace and while most of us won’t make media-frenzied transitions like James, we’ll still have to do it at some point. Doing it well is just another test of professional acumen, and there are several reasons why the issue deserves our attention. As this sports news reporter points out in the Ottawa Citizen, no one believes any longer in the baby boomer motto that, “they should stick with one employer their entire lives and not accept other offers,” whether they are under contract or not. Besides survival of the fittest, today’s informed careerist must continually transition to achieve a best fit for his skills and expertise. Here are three things to keep in mind to ensure you do it well—and can continue doing it.

1) Don’t burn your bridges: You might be the star of your company but stardom is relative. If the recession taught us nothing else, it’s that survival of the fittest still applies—and surviving in the current economy has a lot more to do with relationship building than individual achievements. Especially in close-knit industries like banking, accounting or consulting, where regardless of which firm you work for, you’re one cog in a globalized wheel.

2) Leave with respect: Okay, you’re leaving for a better offer. Your boss gets that. But don’t make your distaste for them obvious. Regardless of what kind of a relationship you shared with your boss and team, in today’s “jobless recovery” you never know who might be working next to you or for you in the coming years. Leave with respect and ensure that they would want to work with you without a second thought.

3) Accord respect: Regardless of what your company’s formal rule is on quitting, the longer the heads-up you can give your colleagues—and especially your boss—the better it will serve you. The more time you allow for the transition, the easier it will be for you as well as your team. What you’ll also accomplish is demonstrating your commitment to teamwork, the company and your chief. Remember, it is, at least partially, because of your performance at the current employer, that you were able to leverage a better job offer. You owe them the courtesy of notice.

–Posted by Aman Singh, In Good Company

Follow Aman on Twitter: @vaultcsr


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