Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Losing Touch

Consider the language that is often used when a person leaves an organization:
  • "Tom has moved on to other things."
  • "Ellen has left to seek new challenges."
  • "Edgar is no longer with us."
The more obscure the message, the more likely it is that listeners will draw a negative conclusion. After all, if they can't say very much about old Edgar's departure, he must have done something really bad.

Naturally, the lawyers have a hand in much of this and, in many cases, an obscure reason may be kinder than an honest one. It is certainly less likely to trigger litigation. The fact that Edgar was forced out because he couldn't organize a two-car funeral would make neither Edgar nor the former employer look good.

All of which means that, unless a non-compete clause would cause problems, people who leave organizations under routine circumstances are well advised to let their contacts know where they landed. Some of those contacts may have grown to regard the dear departed as friends or near-friends. They may want to keep in touch.

Despite the chill of the standard operating procedures, there are times when the rules of etiquette should not be suspended.

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