Separating from a job, especially one you have held some time, is always a difficult thing. Career changes can arise from circumstances that create both positive and negative feelings about the change. It’s how you deal with changing jobs that counts.
Changes caused by non-voluntary separation (termination or redundancy) are always the most difficult to deal with, whether you are on the giving or receiving end. I know managers who have been required to terminate staff for a variety of reasons and they always find it a most unpleasant duty.
Regardless of how moving on is initiated:
- Forced (redundancy, termination, demotion)
- Negotiated (being encouraged to move along amicably but firmly)
- Voluntary (from boredom, aversion to people or culture)
- Lured (being headhunted and invited to join another organisation, promoted)
- For Growth (looking for career development or greater challenge)
there are emotional and psychological consequences that individuals must deal with.
Leaving a long-term comfortable role whether for a known new role or the uncertainty of no immediate new role requires an ability to focus strongly on the future not the past.
Starting anew in Changing Jobs
Career change brings with it different strategies for making the transition.
Settling into a new role may require
- Learning new skills, tasks and ways of working
- Learning to get along with the people and workgroups
- Adopting different values
- Fitting in with a new management team
In all these cases the best strategy is to walk before you run. That is, ease into the rhythm of the new environment and exercise moderation in your approach in the early days. Even if you have been put into a leadership role to initiate reform the use of too much assertiveness too soon can be detrimental to your success in the long term. A good strategy to start with is to do more listening and observing than talking and telling.
Another positive strategy is to identify and build positive relationships with those experienced and respected in the new organisation. In addition demonstrating strong solidarity with the new organisation and its goals will produce early acceptance, as will showing respect for the organisation’s traditions and its present culture (assuming it is not a destructive one) – even if your role is eventually to change it.
Focus on where your career is going not just in the new job but beyond that – to your long-term prospects. Don’t give in to early doubts and regrets but concentrate on identifying opportunities to progress even further from your current experience.
Letting go of the old
Sometimes it is not just about settling into the new environment but also about letting go of the old one. Whether you are moving on to a better future or an uncertain one the importance of letting go of your old working life should not be underestimated.
Many people who make the change voluntarily, suffer from separation guilt and anxiety about whether they have made the right decision.
Some have difficulty settling in to a new role because of the baggage they carry from previous roles. An effective transition is often inhibited by continuing comparisons:
- Avoid complaining about your previous boss or work colleagues.
- Stop telling the current colleagues how good the other place was.
- Avoid saying “we used to do it another way “
- Avoid saying “when I was in my previous job …..”
It is especially important when the departure has been not so nice to get through the mourning period and start looking ahead more positively. Sometimes the separation has been hurtful but dwelling on the hurt won’t help. Be confident in your own integrity. If you are satisfied your past record was good don’t make excuses and have no regrets
When the the 1st REP (1st Foreign Parachute Regiment) of the French Foreign Legion were withdrawn from Algeria in 1961 after being embroiled in political intrigue they felt betrayed by their government but were proud of their achievements. Renowned for singing on the march they adopted the Edith Piaf song “No Regrets” (Non, je ne regrette rein) as they paraded out.
(Image: “Legion1PW” by Richard Bareford – Private collection of Lieutenant-colonel Paul Paschal (1919-1994). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Strategies for Moving on
In dealing with a bad separation, some strategies for moving on include
- Remove references to the bad past from your vocabulary
- Create new pathways and positive experiences
- Celebrate each new achievement and step forward
- Neither criticised nor praise the old ways
- Stop defending your actions in leaving
Going to a nice place makes it is easier to move on but only if you truly have let go of the bad past, otherwise you will taint the future with bad memories.
Learn from past experience in the workplace and avoid repeating behaviours that were not beneficial in the previous context.
It may be difficult to break social and friendship connections and keeping in touch with old workmates is not a bad thing as long as it doesn’t keep pulling you back and prevent you from moving on emotionally.
- Make new friends and acquaintances in your new context
- Don’t carry grudges or resentments against anyone in your past
- Reflect fondly on past triumphs but don’t carry past failures with you
- Remember those who help you along the way and forgive those who hampered your progress.
“Every person, if he is to have mental health and live successfully, must move away from past failures and mistakes and go forward without letting them be a weight upon him. The art of forgetting is absolutely necessary.”
― Norman Vincent Peale, Thought Conditioners