Often when people quit jobs or leave negative professional situations, they are tempted to cut all ties with their former employers – and sometimes even speak poorly about the company or its employees. More often than not, this approach will have repercussions in the future.
Keeping distance from former colleagues is one thing, but actively condemning an organization and those who work there is a more serious issue. Moving between jobs in this manner does not demonstrate Executive Presence and will not benefit your reputation. Instead, maintaining ties and keeping a respectful attitude will allow you to build positive connections throughout all the transitions in your career.
As you move between jobs and locations, here are several reasons why you should build – not burn – bridges.
- Gossip Travels Fast through Networks
Especially if you move around within your industry or stay in a particular region, chances are that your current colleagues know other individuals in your previous and future workplaces. If you gossip about your former employer, it could travel through your networks – either to your former colleagues, or to another contact whose opinion you truly value.As an exercise, look at your LinkedIn connections to see how many mutual contacts you share. If you speak negatively, word can spread quickly among all those professionals.
- Positive Forces Lead to Positive Growth
On the other hand, if you keep positive ties, you will maintain an upper hand in your industry. This does not require a serious effort: even reaching out to a former colleague or supervisor and meeting for coffee once per year can keep relationships strong. If your experience at a particular company was a bad one, look past those memories and remember which individuals were trusting and affirmative within that environment. Try to maintain connections with those individuals.
- Aggression is not a Characteristic of Executive Presence
You may feel the impulse to critique your former organization because you no longer work there: after all, if they can’t hear you, what does it matter?However, this attitude and behaviour could negatively influence your current position. If you critique previous employers or colleagues with aggression, your current colleagues may get a damaging impression of you. Further, they may be wary to trust you in the future, as they may suspect you will apply the same attitude to them. Even worse is to demonstrate this behaviour during a job interview, as starting off on a destructive tone will never leave a good first impression.If you feel this temptation to criticize, remember that Executive Presence is not characterized by negativity and aggression, but rather composure and grace – even in difficult situations.
- View All Experiences as Learning Opportunities
Any career path will involve a variety of colleagues, jobs, and companies. Whether good or bad, try to see all of these experiences as learning opportunities. In fact, you can often learn the most from difficult moments, as they teach you how to respond to similar challenges in the future.
What are your tips for maintaining positive relationships throughout a career?