Saturday, March 1, 2008

Breaking up is hard to do

When you leave your old job to start a new one, or in my case to try to start a new one, I've found that people generally have three reactions:

  1. Indifference: Typically a general "good for you" because your leaving either doesn't effect them or because maybe they secretly wanted you to leave anyway
  2. Where are you going and can I go there too?: Its amazing who comes out of the woodwork on this side (and sometimes who doesn't). In some cases its great to get this reaction, especially out of the people you'd love to keep working with. In other cases, this can be tough, either because you can't immediately see how this person fits into your new gig, or because you were secretly glad you were leaving this person behind
  3. How dare you!: This is the tough one. This is the one that leads to ugly behavior on the part of your ex-coworkers

So let's talk about the "How dare you!" people. They could be benign, cut any personal relationship they have with you and rally the remaining troops to move forward and succeed, hopefully better than when you were working with them. I understand (to some extent) hurt feelings when someone leaves, and this seems to me to be the high road that people who have this reaction can take.

But then there are the people who want to try to hurt you back. For whatever reason, people get so overprotective of their current positions, or see an opportunity to raise their value in the company, that they turn to the bully mentality of trying to make themselves look good by cutting the person who is leaving down. I'm not talking about the people you work with that do this all of the time, you'd expect this reaction from them. I'm talking about the people who you respected while you worked together, maybe even were friends with, that not only cut you off once you announce you're leaving, but look for ways to get back at you (threats of lawsuits, etc.).

I've heard that since I've left, co-workers have been reading through my old emails looking for "wrongdoing" or evidence of some sort. I'm sorry to say they'll be disappointed--I wish nothing but success for them and did nothing while I was working there to put the future success of the company at risk. I do feel a little sad that this is what they've resorted to--I hope that someday, when one of the key leaders in my company leaves, and I'm feeling hurt or angry or suspicious, that I'll remember this and take the high road. Better yet, I hope I just wish them well, figure out how to up my game, and look forward to competing with them.