How damaging is it when a team member leaves the company for a competitor and trashes everything about your organization on the way out?  Have you had this happen to you? Have you done it yourself?

That’s leaving a wake! Burning the bridge! It leaves a bitter taste. No going back. And, the response from the people being left is don’t let the door hit you on the backside on your way out. It is ugly and it is done!

Is that smart? Is it emotionally intelligent? I admit there is something about it that I admire, but when given the chance, in exit interviews or otherwise, I have chosen to stay in relationship rather than be totally honest about why I am leaving. No wake, no burned bridge, no bitter taste.

If we assume everyone is doing the best they can under the circumstances, it could be that the wake maker can’t move on easily. Perhaps, they need to be very angry to make a change. It is not enough that they believe it is time to move on. They have to trash the rental before they go.

In contrast, yesterday I went to a retirement party for a hiking buddy who happens to be a world renowned interventional cardiologist. His health required him to retire from a career he has loved. In his 60’s, he had to stop operating due to a hand tremor. He continued to teach, to conduct research and train others. He has been quite open about his health issues and finished another book in the last year while on immunotherapy. He dedicated this book to his oncologist who he said kept him alive long enough to finish it.

He looked great, he spoke well and the over 200 people in the room gave him a standing ovation after the program honoring him was completed. Endings can be elegant or rocky….it is your choice.


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