Leaving an organization requires an expression not just of sadness but also remnants of good feelings over times past. (Didn’t we have a good time?) The desire to be on good terms with former colleagues allows the dearly departing time to slowly head for the exit. He hints of a reunion of sorts, even when this is remote, or even unconstitutional.
In the corporate world, the goodbye ritual is called an exit interview.
Management seems curious to know why employees leave, especially when they are prized. The exit interview is designed to draw out the motives behind a departure not reflected in a dry, maybe even angry, resignation letter. There seems to be a compulsion to discover extraneous reasons for resignations like migration plans to Vancouver or the call of a family business. Joining the competition for higher pay is more troublesome, though usually undisclosed.
But what about departures initiated by management (push factors) which are becoming more common than greener pastures (pull factors)? Is there still need to interview targets of a redundancy program? (The pandemic has required us to cut back.)
While not expected to sing the praises of a boss that just dumped him, the early retiree may offer some useful observations regarding the canteen. A disgruntled person is likely to dwell on unflattering profiles of at least two layers of management above him. There is no need to argue, only to nod and show that one has not fallen asleep. (And did he raise his voice when calling you a moron?)
It is important not to go overboard in assuring an outgoing executive of the company’s undying affection. Phrases to avoid include the following: a.) Let us know what we can do for you; b.) Do not hesitate to call us in case you need help; c.) Our doors will always be open to you; and, d.) Let’s have lunch sometime. While such expressions of goodwill engender a pleasant atmosphere, the implied assurance to provide help can be taken literally.
After the ax has figuratively severed extraneous protrusions above the shoulder, there comes a series of farewells from colleagues (I just want to wish you luck) complete with a sumptuous lunch with video messages. Why is everybody suddenly interested in what the dispatched executive plans to do after he gets his separation check?
As a people, we seem to clock the longest goodbye.
The French don’t even bother. They just disappear from the scene without much ado, hence the term, “French leave.” There is little curiosity among the French on where the guests seem to have gone, merely recognition of fewer and fewer people milling around the bar. And when there’s nobody left but the hosts, it’s time to pack up.
With us, it seems that a person leaving a party is somehow betraying the cause of happiness and hastening the end of the festivities. She is escorted out, doing several stops to exchange final words with other guests on the way to the door and additional stops on the way to the gate, with a final wave from the window of her car. This version of the Stations of the Cross (He consoles the weeping women of Jerusalem) is the standard exit from a social occasion.
The long goodbye influences the architectural design of public buildings. Airports need to accommodate well-wishers seeing off a relative or friend going abroad, especially when this entails a long absence. Of course, there’s ample space in all the airports nowadays, and not so many relatives seeing off the traveler.
Wakes stretch for days. Relatives and friends visit virtually, along with shared prayers over Zoom that extend for nine days. These are followed by more goodbyes on the ninth day, the 40th day get-together, and, if people have forgotten, the death anniversary one year after.
Stretching goodbyes offers a form of healing. But is the long goodbye also applicable to politics?
Political incumbents maximize the term limits allowed by law. Just to stay in the game, they switch positions and play around with the constitutional restrictions. And when they do say goodbye, months before their term is over, there are always doubts that they can still change their minds.
Can saying hello in another position be far behind?
Tony Samson is chairman and CEO of TOUCH xda