Thursday, April 06, 2006

Colonel Moseley on Leaving Do's and Don'ts

What ho! After my concerted effort to be constructive about trouble at work in my previous article, I seem to be in the Mem’s good books. Last night I was allowed three glasses of red with dinner. This pro bono approach clearly has its advantages. Hopefully this month’s even more helpful advice might be worth a few glasses of port and perhaps a cigar.

Leaving jobs can take many forms. In my day you tended to join a firm and stay until you retired with a few promotions in between. Leaving do’s tended to be a finger buffet in the boardroom marked by a speech from the Chairman and the presentation of a clock from the company and garden furniture paid for by a whip round amongst soon-to-be-former colleagues. This was followed by a tentative and emotional speech in response by the tearful but relieved retiree. In some cases the retiree’s good lady was wheeled to partake of the sausage rolls and sherry and to be given a bouquet.

Nowadays employees seem to be more mobile and companies are much more ruthless about chopping off dead wood. As a rule, staff leaving due to dismissal or naked ambition to move on after twelve months to get a Mondeo instead of a Clio, don’t merit a leaving do.

Redundancy or other culling at any age over 50 is generally masked as “early retirement” and is usually further camouflaged by a do. Such occasions always generate a myriad of conflicting emotions, unspoken anger and seething angst. Here are my top ten tips to cope with the termination process, including the “leaving do”:

1. Always take the precaution of saying what leaving present you would prefer before the collection is completed. If you want a Mont Blanc and there’s only enough in the kitty for a Platignum, hopefully the company will feel honour-bound to make up the considerable shortfall,
2. Be careful how much you drink; you know what they say about “in vino veritas”. The leaving do is a place for many things, but veritas is not one of them,
3. Always try to get someone who likes you to make the speech about you. Like the vicar officiating at your funeral, that person may not know you but should preferably at least get your name right,
4. Accept the fact the majority of people attending your do will be from accounts and completely unknown to you. Always remember, they have given to your collection and are entitled to as many sausages on sticks and glasses of Jacobs Creek as they can sink,
5. Take great care in preparing your farewell speech. Do not make jokes unless you are good at it,
6. Try to avoid most of the following: foul language, slander, break dancing, tears, conjuring tricks, any threat of violence, and group hugs,
7. Remember that what you do not say can be just as potent as what you do say. A thoughtful tribute to colleagues who have been kind and helpful will magnify the impact of failure to thank or even mention a line manager who has made your life a misery. Most of your audience are well versed in what has been going on and will get the message,
8. Do not do anything which will impact on any outstanding reference or compensation,
9. If you do know where the bodies are buried, try not to forget; corporate memory may come in useful one day,
10. Once you have left, leave. There’s nothing sadder or more humiliating than someone who just has to keep coming back.

I hope that equips you to cope with the trauma of leaving; should be worth a port or two! Pip, pip!!

*this advice first appeared in Birmingham 13

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