How to quit like a shrink

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


How to quit like a shrink

Employees leave their positions for many reasons — organizational restructuring, family needs, a better offer — and they exit their jobs in a variety of different ways. Some sneak out quietly so that their coworkers find out only after they’re already gone. Others have a swift, drama-filled exit, walking off after an argument, never to return.

While we as individuals may have no say over how our companies discharge workers, if we’re voluntarily leaving an organization, we’re likely to have a significant amount of control over how we depart. For professionals hoping to maintain connections with colleagues, leave-taking is an opportunity to create a positive last impression. While we’re making the effort to finish up our work and create a smooth handoff of responsibilities, we also can showcase our expertise in handling exits.

As I noted in a column about how to fire staff members, “The Good-bye Guide: Why and how to terminate tenderly in LTC,” endings of all kinds are especially important in this field. Beloved residents may die unexpectedly or be transferred to the hospital and vanish from our lives. With the departure of each resident, their families disappear as well, compounding the loss.

This steady but generally unacknowledged drumbeat of sadness has a strong impact on workers. (I believe it’s why many employees don’t complete their first year. For more on that topic, see “Absenteeism and turnover in LTC? Death anxiety could be the cause”.) In an environment where there are many sudden and sometimes disturbing endings, well-planned departures can be opportunities to heal some of this pain.

They also can help to solidify connections and offer an opening to obtain contact information for colleagues with whom you’d like to stay in touch after you’ve gone.

There are entire volumes devoted to the psychological process of termination, but I’ve created a quick guide below based on my experiences with leave-taking in LTC:

  1. Give people time to emotionally and practically process your departure. Typically, this is two to four weeks, depending on the level of your interactions with them.

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How to quit like a shrink

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