Seth Godin’s post yesterday of the same title has this good advice for businesses who are shutting down:
It seems to me that you ought to say goodbye with the same care and attention to detail and honesty you use to say hello. You never know when you’ll be back.
The same should be said of companies and employees. We always try in interviews to be as kind as possible to candidates who we are not going to hire. I’m sure we don’t always get it right at all levels, but I always make a personal phone call and usually send a handwritten letter to finalists for senior jobs. Once, when I had to “ding” a candidate for a VP level job who was expecting an offer based on something I said, I even sent him a bottle of his favorite wine. You don’t have to go to those extremes all the time, but sending a candidate a letter or more formal email or giving him or her a phone call if they’ve taken the time to come in and interview goes a long way towards building your company’s brand as an employer. And you never know when a candidate who isn’t a fit for one position is a perfect fit for another position. Calling back is much easier if you say goodbye the right way the first time around.
I try to do the same thing with employees who leave the company, regardless of who terminates the employment relationship. I do my best to see or at least call the departing employee on or near his last day to thank him for his service and – if appropriate – let him know that the door is always open if he wants to come back someday.
And we ask the same of employees who leave of us – that they say goodbye the right way. We ask departing employees to give us as much of a heads up as possible that they’re considering looking for a new job (without retribution, of course). If people have decided to leave, we ask for three weeks’ notice instead of the traditional two or less. Again, we don’t get this from everyone, but we do get it from many. And for people’s “lame duck” time, we ask them to stay focused and complete the documentation and transition of their responsibilities in as orderly a manner as possible.
There’s just no good reason to burn a bridge, even if for whatever reason you feel wronged by an employer or an employee.