Giving notice at your current organization can be stressful; you are excited about your new role but also worried about maintaining a positive and professional relationship with your current employer.
Having spent more than a decade as an executive recruiter, I’ve helped many people discover their next step – and watched them navigate informing their current organization of that change. Here I share some tips to increase the likelihood of a smooth transition.
How much notice to provide…
In the nonprofit world, a minimum of a month is standard. However, this increases if you are in a senior leadership position. In general, the more advance notice you can provide, the better – especially if it will allow you to help with the recruitment and/or onboarding of your replacement.
When giving notice, aim to do it in person (or if fully remote, over Zoom) with your direct supervisor. Be positive about the time you have spent at the organization in the conversation. Make sure, too, to discuss with them how and when you should notify staff and key stakeholders (including Board members, committee members, volunteers, etc. as applicable).
Prepare a written letter which you can send after the conversation for their official files.
// GET STARTED SECTION START
// GET STARTED SECTION END
As mentioned above, you should work with your direct supervisor to determine a timeline for informing staff and key stakeholders. You will want to have one-on-one conversations with all of your direct reports, and they should be informed of your departure prior to any organization-wide announcement. Center the conversation around what your transition means for them/their roles and encourage them to approach you with any questions they might have at any time.
How to ensure the organization’s continued success…
Continue to be effective and responsible in your role until your very last day. Not only will it leave a good impression, it is also critical to guaranteeing a successful transition for your successor and an ongoing commitment to the work for your staff.
If the timing does not allow for you to overlap with your replacement, do everything you can to ensure there are systems and processes in place to support their success from day one. This can include creating a training manual or guides, ensuring all databases/spreadsheets are up to date, creating a status report for any ongoing initiatives, assembling a document of important contacts, etc.
What to say (and what not to say) during the exit interview…
Speak to the aspects of the role/organization you enjoyed most, as well as where there is room for improvement if invited to do so.
Remember: you want to answer any questions with honesty and transparency, but you don’t want to burn bridges.
How to maintain a strong relationship once you are gone…
Even if there are aspects of your role/the organization that you did not enjoy, it’s important to primarily focus on the positive when discussing your time there (including with any potential employers!). This will help you maintain a strong and enduring relationship. After all, you will likely need them to provide you with a reference at some point!
Stay in touch! Make a point of checking in with your former supervisor and reports once in a while. They will appreciate the effort – and it may lead to you collaborating again down the line.
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