Time to Say Goodbye: A Gallant Transition

“It was a long walk along the Rhine that cinched it,” said Allen. “I saw the sun set for the first time in a very long time.”

After my client, Allen, decided to accept the executive liaison position, he knew he was going to have to say goodbye. Saying “Adieu” to the 80-hour work week as CEO of a growing non-profit would be easy. Saying goodbye to his team would not.

The idea of leaving was not on Allen’s radar until he was approached by a consulting firm who sought his expertise. Then, a recent trip to Germany solidified his decision. He wanted his time back. He wanted to be able to travel the world on his timeline and not somebody else’s. But now that he’d negotiated the terms, set a start date, and officially accepted the position, he needed to make a clean break. Time was of the essence.

We discussed transition strategies, including how and when give notice, the best board of directors approach and what his talking points would be for discussion and fielding questions. He chose a timeline approach to organizing his thoughts, but I reminded him of the time sensitive nature of his decision. Soon, his new role would become public and Allen wanted to be the one to tell his team.

“It’s one thing imagining it, it’s another thing doing it,” he confessed. His team was his extended family and they had supported him and his vision for 10 years. He worried he’d be letting them down. After talking through the options and perspectives, Allen realized that by dragging his feet he was not putting their needs first. They would need time to adjust and acclimate to losing their mentor.

With a postcard of Germany in his suit pocket, he went into work the following Monday and ordered a catered lunch for his team. He then spent the remainder of his day and week with individual team members, helping them craft a plan for navigating transition and achieving professional success. The gallant and gracious approach Allen took with the announcement, thoughtful sharing of his personal ambitions and time with his team was just the “ticket” to their accepting his resignation.

*Client names and particulars have been changed to protect client confidentiality. Client permission is garnared when sharing testimonials and anecdotes.

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