Daydreaming about quitting your job and starting your own business? Thinking about selling your business for a profit? Do you want to get out of a contract with a client?
All these are examples of an exit strategy in a business context. When you wish to leave your current job, you may have to come up with a sound exit strategy that includes an exit interview, several discussions with senior executives and training your replacement.
For self-employed individuals, an exit strategy means transferring ownership of their business to others. This may be because of better business prospects or if your business is barely staying afloat.
Whatever the context of the exit strategy, you have to handle it with finesse, a level head and clarity of goals. Discover different types of exit strategies and how to manage them.
Are Exit Strategies Just Smoke And Mirrors?
It may seem like a process no one really undergoes, but an exit strategy is quite effective when it comes to leaving on a positive note. In the business community, professional networking is everything. You need a strong network in case you need new opportunities for employment or future business decisions. Sound exit strategies—as an employee or business owner—help you maintain relationships even after the termination of contracts.
For instance, an employee exit plan will constitute an exit interview where they get a chance to discuss their employment journey with the organization.
When used ethically and efficiently, exit strategies aid in lessening the impact of failure and also help you achieve your objectives. They’re similar to a peace treaty where both parties leave on a positive note—not unlike a win-win negotiation.
Here are some characteristics of a successful exit strategy:
It’s a conversation where both parties can put their expectations on the table to achieve their goals
It’s a carefully thought-out plan to mitigate failure and maintain healthy professional networks
It gives way to a dialogue that may even help you figure out why there’s a need for an exit strategy
It can help you address grievances and give feedback to your employer
It’s also a way to negotiate your way to better compensation in case your employer feels the need to keep you on board
Exit strategies don’t have to be uncomfortable or negative. If you plan in advance and appeal to the other party with concrete examples, solutions and experiences, you stand a much better chance of gaining something productive.
What Are Some Exit Strategies for Employees?
An employee exit plan is far different than say mergers with another organization or selling your business. If you’re an employee, and considering leaving your current organization, you’re probably already searching for new jobs. This means you need references or a robust professional network to fall back on. Unless things went downhill because of a toxic work environment or problems with management, it’s ideal to leave on a good note.
Whether it’s scheduling an exit interview with your employer or discussing why you’re leaving with your immediate supervisor, try to reach out to someone to get your point across. Leaving cold turkey is rare. You want a job, you need to pay the bills. So, why ruin your relationship with your current organization?
Here are some manageable steps for an employee’s exit strategy:
Discuss The Reasons For An Exit Strategy
Getting into a discussion with your HR may be something you want to avoid—especially if you’re right at the end of your employment journey with that organization. But a proper interview can give you a chance to bring to light what you enjoyed about your time in your organization, what can be improved and what you’ve done for them. Being employed is a mutually beneficial relationship where both the employee and employer have something to gain. Try to think of specific instances that highlight these aspects.
Communicate As Clearly As Possible
Maybe your experience in your organization left a bitter taste. If you’re parting ways because of a toxic organizational culture or you had a falling out with someone, you can communicate this as part of your exit strategies. You may be afraid of backlash or things backfiring, but honesty is the best policy. Rather than twisting the narrative or sugar-coating things, if the situation calls for it, you should try to tell them exactly what went wrong. Not only will this help you come to terms with what happened but also help future employees enjoy a better work culture.
Suggest Alternatives If Possible
Say you’re quitting your job for reasons such as workload, skewed work-life balance or different work styles. You can take this opportunity to suggest ways that you can still be involved with the organization, whether you want to work as a consultant, freelancer or part-time. If your organization is willing, everyone wins.
Offer To Train Your Replacement
Most times when you leave, there will be someone new who’ll take your place. A responsible thing to do is offer to either create a ‘how-to’ guide for that person or train them to get comfortable with their job role. Transfer of duty is important to make sure the organization’s operations don’t take a hit.
Be Sure To Leave On A Positive Note
At the end of the day, work is a critical part of your life, but it doesn’t dominate your existence. If you want to leave on a positive note, you must. For any future endeavors, it’s important to get sound references and recommendations from previous employers. Even universities prefer to run checks on our employment and academic history. Exit strategies that end with healthy, long-term relationships are highly successful. Longevity trumps the satisfaction you may receive in the short term.
Exit strategies for employees should be about focusing on solutions. Taking a solution-oriented approach will help you see things clearly. You may want to continue your relationship with your organization in a different capacity. Maybe you found better opportunities or you want to change fields altogether. Whatever the reason, you can definitely terminate your employment and still maintain a professional relationship.
What Are Some Types Of Exit Strategies?
Turn problems into solutions. An exit strategy is your chance to turn a situation in your favor. You don’t have to take it in a bad light. This is an opportunity for you to either make a profit, build meaningful relationships and enter into a new, more fruitful contract than the one you are leaving.
Here are a few different types of exit strategies you may encounter in your professional life:
Selling Your Business
It may not be as common, but yes, many entrepreneurs do end up selling their business, whether in part or wholly, to others. If your business is suffering repeated losses and you’re finding it hard to keep afloat, a buy-out offer can actually save you a lot of time, energy and resources. Just make sure to do your research and sell to someone who can be trusted.
Leaving Long-Term Clients
Freelancers—whether writers, designers or consultants—often enter into short and long-term contracts with different types of clients. As a freelancer, you may wish to exit a contract if you don’t like the terms or if you want to move on to better, more lucrative opportunities. In such a situation, you can tread with care and leave on an ethical note. Appreciate your relationship, what you’ve gained from it and always leave the door open. You may need to go back to them one day.
If you’re thinking of changing jobs because you found something that pays a higher salary or maybe a better work-life balance, you can think of ways to best break the news to your supervisors. It can be tricky if you’re deeply involved in business operations but you should always seek better opportunities to grow as a professional. An exit interview is the best way to level the playfield. Talk about what you enjoyed and learned in your role, how you grew into a professional and how you were able to build essential skills. These do leave a positive and lasting impression on your employer.
These are by no means exhaustive examples when it comes to exit strategies. But these are some of the most commonly observed ones. If you or someone you know has or will encounter an exit strategy, you can use some of these tips to achieve your goals!
Turning Problems Into Solutions
Learn more about how you can turn problems into solutions with Harappa’s Creating Solutions course. Our problem-solving course has been designed for individuals who want to be analytical when it comes to finding solutions. If you want to build a sound exit strategy, you can do so by considering different perspectives, directions and options. With careful, objective thinking you can create solutions that work for both parties involved.
One of the most important frameworks is the Multiple Whys—a technique to get to the root cause of the problems by asking relevant ‘why’ questions in succession. The more you probe, the better the solutions. Enroll today and learn how not to take things at face value and consider other ways to solve complex problems.
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as What Is Problem-Solving, The Importance Of Root Cause Analysis, What Is The FMEA Tool & Ishikawa or Fishbone Diagram Analysis and turn your problems into solutions.
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