Burning Bridges (#73)

We often dream about the day when we can finally tell that boss, co-worker, customer, or friend how we really feel about them. It’s our drop the mic moment; a dramatic exit followed by feelings of euphoria. We may even fantasize about torching that bridge, all for a few minutes of high dopamine retribution.

While such actions may make us feel better, that gain is often temporary. Burning a bridge, even the most deserving, is almost never in our best interest long term. It’s not only bad karma, but you also never know where or how those actions may come back haunt you. For example, a brother, sister, or friend of the person you told off may one day stand in the way of something you want. It’s a small world, especially now that everyone has a megaphone through social media.

My good friend, Lee Caraher, just wrote a book on this subject titled, The Boomerang Principle. She talks about the impact of companies who help employees leave on a good note and keep the door open for them in the future. She also addresses the importance of employees not burning their bridges on the way out the door and the significant mutual benefits that this approach offers.

Two years ago, we set out to change the paradigm of how and when someone leaves our company for their next venture. We introduced a program we call Mindful Transition. Our goal was to make these inevitable transitions less taboo by encouraging open discussion. We also wanted to put an end to the standard two weeks’ notice, which often ends the employee/employer relationship on a bad note.

Through Mindful Transition, we support our employees as they transition to the next chapter of their work life; we even help them find new jobs and keep the door open should they decide to return. Most importantly, we treat the person in transition with respect and ask for respect and transparency in return. It’s exciting to see how far we have come with this program. We continually run into AP alumni who moved on to a new career or business venture and are still strong advocates for our brand.

We will all face situations in our lives that require change or that we need to distance ourselves from. However, when we make the decision to never walk over that bridge again, it’s best to do so privately. This way, we give ourselves the ability to change our mind and reduce future detractors and obstacles on our path to success.

One of the best tips I can offer for satisfying the feeling that comes with bridge burning is to write down everything you really want to say. Then read it, sit on it, read it again and, finally, file it away or delete it. You will have cleared your mind without the associated ill will that such expression might cause.

Quote of the Week

“Never burn bridges. If it’s a faulty bridge then close it off and let it fall on its own.”

Gregor Collins

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2 Comments

  1. Bob LaBonne Jr May 26, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Bob I teach this all the time with the teens, that sometimes want to stick it to us and leave without notice or on bad terms. I tell them, what do you want us to say when you are applying for a really good job down the road and they call all your previous employers? You get to write the answer to the question that all reference checks ask and it is the one we can answer legally. It’s a question that often determines if you get that job you really want. The question is “Would you rehire this person?” How do you want us to answer it? How you finished up your tenor here by working hard up until the end and whether you gave us a notice will often be the answer as to how we answer that question.

    So in essence, you are writing your reference check answer and setting the foundation for your future employment through the way you finish out your previous jobs. Do you want to burn a bridge or strengthen one? The choice is yours.
    Great tip for so many millennials who feel entitled and have no thoughts of the consequences for their actions.
    Bob

    Reply

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