How to Leave a Job…and Your Work Friends

How to Leave a Job…and Your Work Friends

“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other gold.”

—Joseph Parry
(1841-1903)

You knew the time was right to leave your current position, and you worked hard to find a new job that moved your career forward. Despite the rightness of your decision, it does mean change, and even positive change can be difficult to manage. You’ve adjusted your schedule, your commute, and your work content.  Now what do you do about your work friendships?

• First of all, don’t close yourself off from new friendships out of loyalty to old ones. Not all work friendships are lasting. Remember when you finished college, some of your friendships moved forward with you; others became nice memories. The same is true for work friends. Oftentimes, a friendship is based on a certain environment and what people have in common in that setting.

•  Your focus needs to be on your new job and the importance of building a network there. Keeping in daily contact with old colleagues won’t help you settle into your new role. For awhile, you may feel a nostalgia for your previous job or friends, but try to ease yourself out of the old rumor mill. and recognize that what happens there no longer affects you. Limit your contact with former colleagues to after work events and catching up then. If you find you are the one trying to keep more frequent contact, give some thought to why this is so. Do you miss the camaraderie or support? The routine? Do you feel insecure in your new position? Or are you simply lonely?

• Be careful of quick comparisons of both jobs and people. Keep in mind that “instant rapport” is seldom actually instant. You may have left your old job because you were unhappy about the organization or your boss, but discussing those issues at your new job serves no purpose and makes you sound like a whiner. Likewise, comparing and finding fault with your new place of employment will not make you popular.

• While you bring your skills from your old job with you, all confidences, business processes, and client contacts from your old job should be left behind. Similarly, safeguard any confidential or proprietary information from your new job. You may think you can discuss a sensitive work issue with a friend from your old job, but that could easily backfire if any information gets out.

• In your career, you will, more than likely, change positions and companies numerous times. As with all change, you eventually adjust and become comfortable with each new environment. Learning to manage change is an important workplace skill. This includes managing workplace friendships and the necessary transitions. Old friends are a valuable commodity. You want to keep them, but make sure, in doing so, that you keep them separate from your new job.

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