Q: What is the best approach to transitioning from your current position with a long-term employer to a new company with the least amount of drama?
A: 1. Do not give notice to your current employer until you have received an authorized formal offer from the new company, cleared a background check and drug screening (if applicable). Both parties must agree to all terms. Have you received all applicable documentation pertaining to the offer? Mutually agreed upon job description which outlines the expected job duties and responsibilities, terms of the sign on bonus and relocation package (if applicable), detailed benefits information including health, dental, vision, short term and long term disability plans, retirement and pension plans, vacation and paid time off policies, education and training reimbursement. etc. The time to negotiate is before you accept the offer not after.
2. After carefully reviewing the offer and applicable documentation, sign the offer, return by email, fax or if you are local personally drop it off to their office and confirm by phone that it was received. Communicate with your point of contact to confirm your start date and expected time of arrival on your first day. Often times the hiring manager will contact you to welcome you to the company and possibly invite you to lunch before your start date. If you do not hear from the hiring manager, take the initiative and call them and express your enthusiasm about joining the company. It’s a nice touch to ask your direct manager what you can do between now and your official start date to get up to speed.
3. Give your two weeks notice to your current employer in writing and request a meeting with your direct manager to communicate the change. Be aware of what compensation is owed to you; last paycheck, accrued vacation, medical savings plan, cobra, reimbursement for company expenses, etc. Ask for references from your colleagues, this is the best and may be your only time to request this information. Start to gather your personal belongings; do not take any company property without permission. You may be asked to leave upon giving notice. You may be asked to stay beyond the two weeks notice to transfer your knowledge. I do not advise that you stay on longer than two weeks; this is ample time to document your position and train someone. Be professional about this process, do not burn any bridges. Keep the lines of communication open on an as needed basis.
Counter offers from your current employer are not a good idea to consider. The trust has been broken and they may only be keeping you around until they find your replacement. Remember the reasons why you went looking for a new position in the first place? Was it compensation, a more challenging position, stronger leadership, gain knowledge in a new industry, etc.?
4. Take some time off, this is very important. This may be your last vacation for a year. Tie up any lose ends and relax, you deserve it.Now, the transition
From day one, it is important to read the culture about your new company. Your first goal is to analyze the new company, management, peers and direct reports and to identify their culture and style. This is an important step in understanding the similarities and potential differences. Be a good researcher, watch and listen carefully and ask questions of your new colleagues to gather this important information: