This May, the Harvard Business Review published a story that struck me right in the serendipity—an essay about the value of, well, valuing employees who leave.
It turns out that same month I decided to return to CultureIQ after leaving to join a startup firm. In the HBR essay, entitled, “Your Company Needs a Process for Offboarding Employees Gracefully,” author David Sturt also describes leaving his Salt Lake City firm to create a startup in Portland. He departed O.C. Tanner, an employee-engagement software and solutions firm, on great terms—the CEO even bought him a one-way airline ticket back if Sturt changed his mind. The way the company made him feel valued and appreciated on his way out informed his decision to return to O.C. Tanner years later.
In March, I left CultureIQ to work at an early stage startup, never thinking I would make a return, especially within two months. Timing differences aside, my positive experience leaving CultureIQ mirrored Sturt’s.
An exit interview gone right
What resonates with me the most was when Sturt stressed that employers must listen carefully when outgoing employees explain why they are leaving. When I went to go give notice to my supervisor at CultureIQ, I was nervous, and afraid that my colleagues, who had become friends, would feel let down. But he listened to the reason I wanted to leave (a craving to return to my startup roots) and his reaction pleasantly surprised me. Of course he was not thrilled I was going, but he thanked me for my time at the organization and let me know that we’d work to get a transition plan in place to make this a smooth handoff for all parties involved. His level of care for both me and our clients highlighted not only his character, but the overarching values of CultureIQ.
So it wasn’t hard to think about returning when the opportunity arose.
I boomeranged back for two reasons:
1. An opportunity to join CultureIQ’s small, growing product team opened up almost immediately after I left. I had to ask myself, “Is this a role you would have applied for if you were still at the organization? If so, the timing may be unfortunate but sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles.”
2. I was not happy with the culture of my new organization. It was by no means a toxic culture, it actually just had no real sense of culture. Without culture, I felt less valued.
Sturt hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “When you give offboarding the same care and consideration as onboarding, your team and organization are better positioned to thrive.” Even if outgoing employees don’t come back, you can be assured that they’re not bad-mouthing your organization to others—and in fact, may be singing your company’s praises to potential hires, and potential customers.
Taylor Buckler is Associate Product Manager for CultureIQ