Jerry McGuire in the process of quitting his job.

Three Things Every UXer Must Do When Leaving a Job

professional, ui, ux

Three Things Every UXer Must Do When Leaving a Job

I’ve been at Western Union as the UX/UI Manager for the Business Solutions team for a little over a year.  Tomorrow is my last day.

Any team is effected when someone leaves; when that person is a leader, the impact is more acute.  I want to make sure that the great work my team is doing continues even after I’ve gone – and a lot of that will depend on the steps I take to prepare for my departure.

What surprised me, however, is just how similar my departure as a leader is to when I was working as individual contributor.

If you’re leaving a job soon, here are three things to do to make sure your departure hits all the right notes with your team and business partners.

Clearly Defining Processes

Our UX/UI team at Western Union started about the same time as I did, and we’ve spent a lot of the last year setting up processes that will set us up for success.

Processes for how we vet projects.  Processes for how we interact with stakeholders.  Processes about how we organize files.

Red letters on a blue background that reads "Trust the process."

I need to get this framed to hang up in my new office/cube.

A lot of work over the past week has been spent in talking about these processes, documenting them where they weren’t clearly defined, and talking with my team about strategies for implementing them (or changing them, if they desire) once I’ve left the group.

Organizing Files

I’m always surprised at the clutter that amasses on a computer between starting a job and ending it.  Even in the year that I’ve spent at Western Union – not a long time in lifespan of a career – I found so many documents on my work machine that my team would lose access to if I weren’t around to dole them out.

The hag from the Princess Bride, shaming me for not using my shared folder.

Your true shared drive lives. And you keep your files on your hard drive. Your shared drive saved you when your laptop battery exploded, and you treat it like garbage. And that’s what you are, the King of Refuse. So bow down to him if you want, bow to him. Bow to the King of Slime, the King of Filth, the King of Putrescence. Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo! Boo! Boo!

And while I probably should be shamed for not using my shared drive appropriately, it’s just a simple fact that not every important file we work on will always make it to the great file folder in the cloud.  Getting my important documents up there and letting my team know where they could find them will ensure they won’t have problems.  Pay special attention to:

  • Word, PowerPoint, and Excel Files
  • Design mockup files
  • Visual Assets
    • JPGs
    • PNGs
    • Design-tool-specific files (a la .PSDs, .AIs, etc.)
  • PDFs

Saying My Goodbyes

It’s important to leave on the best terms possible with your team and your coworkers.  This is true whether you’ve been blessed with as amazing people as my coworkers at Western Union, or whether you’re maybe not as fond of your company or your coworkers.

Initech, the job site of "Office Space" fame, burning to the ground.

Don’t burn bridges if possible. And certainly don’t burn down anything else, no matter how many traveler’s cheques you find.

The truth is that most tech communities centered around urban areas are relatively small.  And while there are definitely times you should burn bridges and never look back, those are few and far between.  When possible, say your goodbyes to your team, key stakeholders, and your supervisors in the best and most sincere tones as possible.

This applies no matter what’s happened to your red Swingline stapler.  In a few days bygones will be bygones, and you and your current coworkers will be nothing more than a memory to each other.  You want that memory to be as positive as possible.

After all, you never know who you’ll work with – or for – in the future.

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