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The Moo - Issue #1 - How to quit your job with grace

Kaushik Subramanian
Kaushik Subramanian
Issue 1: An algorithm to quit your job with grace

With so many newsletters out there, I’m honoured that you chose to hit subscribe. My promise to you is that I will do my best to make this a valuable read in your inbox - I need to earn your time. My motivation for starting this newsletter is twofold: 
  1. I want to share a lot of my learnings with people who might find it useful. I had a lot of asymmetric information in my early career - and growing up in a 80’s/90’s India was a handicap as I realised later. I don’t want you to have the same handicap
  2. I started a new job a few months ago, which requires me to write extensively and I want to get better at it to be better at my new job
Without further ado, here is my first issue:
An algorithm to quit your job with grace
Why is this important? The tech world is super small, and word goes around. Additionally, this is a time of heightened anxiety (quitting + starting a new role) and one is susceptible to making mistakes in the absence of an algorithm. There are several articles about how to start a new job and your first 90 days (there’s even a book!) but there’s really nothing about your last 30 days. We spend half our lives or more at work, we develop very deep relationships there. And then when we leave, it’s like a breakup - so how do you stay friends with your ex? I also thought I’ll choose this as my first topic since its fresh in my mind after leaving FB/Meta. I’ve made several mistakes and stumbled through quitting three wonderful organisations (L’Oreal, McKinsey, Facebook/Meta) and have been able to hone in on an algorithm that works - I call it the ‘7 final steps’ algorithm. Following this has helped me stay great friends with folks in organisations I’ve left, and my ‘people equity’ remained untouched (with a couple of return offers, several co-investors in companies I’ve invested in, and even a couple that I’ve been able to bring with me to my new company!)
Step 1: Create a script
First, write down the script. You might be quitting because of a whole number of reasons. Maybe you were very happy or not. Irrespective, the golden rule here is that you’re not going to achieve anything out of leaving with a lot of venom. Your script should be some form of:
  • I am quitting this job 
  • In the last X years, I’ve done X and Y, and learnt A, B and C
  • I am thankful for the opportunity to work with you
  • However, I felt that I should move on because of D, E, F
  • I am going to move to a company in <sector>, and in a role that does <role description>
Here, important to note that you should maintain the principle of least privilege, which means you really don’t need to tell people details of your move until you’ve actually moved:
  • Do not reveal your next company’s name. You have nothing to gain from revealing that
  • Do not reveal your new team, exact role or anything else such as salary
So something of the order of ‘I’m going to be the head of product at a web3 company’ should be enough. Some people will probe you. Politely decline, by saying ‘I’d rather not reveal where I’m going as I’m still finalising some details’
Step 2: Take what you can
No, I do not mean the snacks in the micro kitchen. Finish up your allowances (e.g. a fitness or commuting allowance), run through any training that you may have and anything that you might need from internal tools. For example, when I left McKinsey, I did all of the training on feedback, board strategy, exec comms that existed in McKinsey, primarily because I knew that nobody does that better than them. Also take this time to make sure that:
  • You understand what your notice period is (and if you need to negotiate it)
  • You have no stock vesting dates coming up. If you do, wait until the vest happens
  • Remember to take your health insurance details, as they usually run 1-2 months after your job ends. You will however not have login details later so you’ll struggle if you don’t. In addition, account for this when you’re thinking about negotiating your notice period.
Step 3: Create your CRM
In every organization, you’ve built relationships and people equity over time. However, contacting these people outside of Slack is hard (sometimes impossible!). Add your colleagues on LinkedIn, and if their intranet has contact information note them down. 
I use Dex (not a plug) but Excel works well too!
—after this is point of no return, so assume that anything after this will probably be your last day—-
Step 4: Chat with your manager
Do not drop this as a surprise. Ideally they should have an inkling that you’re going to leave the job anyway. Or at least that you’ve been looking. If they are surprised then either you’ve not done a great job or your manager is not a great manager. 
When you’re telling your manager, definitely thank them. Irrespective of how your time working with them was, you probably learnt something. Walk them through your talking points and agree with them on:
  • When you’ll send your resignation email
  • When and how you’ll tell the team and cascade comms through the org. The more senior you are, your departure might create waves and might affect morale
  • When will be your last date (use what you learnt in Point 2)
  • What messaging to use for your team/others
This might result in one of three outcomes: 
  1. your manager sees you as a threat to the company, in which case you go on garden leave and lose all access immediately. This might happen, for example, if you’re moving from Facebook to Bytedance
  2. Your notice period gets shortened, and you get paid for it
  3. You serve your entire notice period. In this case, definitely offer help to hire a replacement, especially if you had a good time at your company. It will only result in good things, and your team will be thankful to you
Step 5: Create a handover plan
Unless your access is revoked immediately, create a handover plan. I’d make two versions, one for your manager and the other for the person who will replace you. The first one should be pretty high level, with details of projects, who is responsible etc whereas the latter should ideally be more detailed with a lot more people context than anything else
Step 6: Run a survey
I constantly try to get better at what I do. So when I left Facebook, I ran a survey across peers, managers and my team, in order to understand what I do well and what I don’t. I know this is what performance reviews should do - but there’s so much context there that’s hard to cut through. I found better insights when I ran this survey, the results of which I then included in my user manual and manager manual. What are these manuals, you ask? They’re on the agenda for future issues :)
Step 7: DO NOT do anything on LinkedIn
There is absolutely no reason to make an announcement immediately on LinkedIn. There is also no upside to updating your job title the day you join. I never thought of this (and always have updated immediately) but going forward I won’t - there’s only downside in doing so. If your new job does not work out, you now have the burden of a 1-2 month stint at a company that you have to justify. Sadly, the world is always going to assume it’s your fault (even if it was the company’s). I know folks who’ve joined excellent companies in bad orgs, and have had to quit in 2-3 months because the environment was so toxic. Why do you want to make this public when you don’t need to? You’ve got to look out for yourself
I hope you found this useful - any and all feedback is welcome (you’d be doing me a favour). I’m also trying to grow to as many people as possible so that I can become a better writer and I have more incentives. So if you can forward this newsletter, post on social media, and ask people to subscribe, I will be very grateful. Thanks and see you in Edition 2: ‘How to write a user manual’ - in your inbox in the next couple of weeks!
P.S: can you hit ‘reply’ to this email, or mark as not spam? This will ensure you never miss an issue.
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Kaushik Subramanian
Kaushik Subramanian @theholykau

Career management with intermittent issues on product and tech

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