How Quitting Your Job Can Make You a Better Employee

September 26, 2008

When you leave a job behind, if you don’t solicit feedback from your co-workers, you’re missing out on a golden self-improvement opportunity.

Last Day of Work

Today was my last day at work, after working for this company for almost nine years I’m making a change and trying something new.  As I filled out my exit interview online and answered question after question about my boss, my group, and the company I realized I was providing human resources and management with a lot of useful feedback.

360 Degree Feedback

I saw an opportunity to help myself professionally so I built a short survey with SurveyGizmo and emailed it out to my managers and co-workers.  After working closely with me for many years, they knew my strengths and weaknesses well and it was a perfect chance to have them tell me what I was doing well and where I needed some work.  Getting feedback from all levels of your job hierarchy like this is sometimes known as 360 feedback:

“360-degree feedback, also known as ‘multi-rater feedback’, ‘multisource feedback’, or ‘multisource assessment’, is employee development feedback that comes from all around the employee. “360” refers to the 360 degrees in a circle. The feedback would come from subordinates, peers, and managers in the organizational hierarchy, as well as self-assessment, and in some cases external sources such as customers and suppliers or other interested stakeholders.”

Self Improvement Survey

Our typical review process is top-down, from our managers only, so this was a perfect chance for peers and my team members to let me know where I needed work.  I kept it short so people would have time to take it and left the answers open ended so they could write as little or as much as they wanted.  Below are the questions I asked:

1) Describe my contribution to one project where I did a great job or helped you out.  Pick one that really stands out in your mind and explain why you were impressed with my performance. Just to let you know, these are for the resume in case my next job doesn’t work out 🙂

Testimonials are wonderful things for a resume.  If you spent years successfully completing projects, don’t hesitate to ask for some documentation of your effort.

2) Name and explain 3 things I need to work on professionally that would make me a better person to work with. It could be a better employee, manager, developer, communicator. Just describe 3 things you think I do poorly or that could use improvement.

Not everyone gave three but most people gave at least one thing I could work on.  After looking through the responses, there were several things I wouldn’t have thought of that could definitely increase my value as an employee if I could improve them.

3) In your mind, what are my 3 best attributes? I’m looking for professional development feedback here so please don’t answer something like nice shoes.

It’s helpful to know what you’re good at.  Especially when you’re in an interview and they ask for the 3–5 adjectives that best describe you or what your strengths are.  Now you don’t have to think about it, your co-workers will tell you!

4) Please share one piece of advice that has been the most valuable for you in furthering your career and professional development. Make it your best career tip, the one that’s been most effective for you

Everyone has a nugget of wisdom to share that has made their work life easier or help them in getting raises and promotions.  Why not find out everyone’s “secret to success”?

On the Way Out the Door

Of course you can run a survey like this while you’re still working at a company too, the benefit to doing it when you’re leaving is that people feel more open about sharing your pros and cons since they don’t have to work with you anymore.

I also asked for their email address (non-work) as part of the survey so that I can keep my professional network growing the next time it’s time for another job change.  Of course I made the email optional so they didn’t have to share if they didn’t want to.

So next time you get a new job, make sure you find out from your peers, managers, and underlings where you can improve so you can fast track your way to success, and hopefully corresponding raises and promotions.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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7 Responses to How Quitting Your Job Can Make You a Better Employee

  • Patrick

    I didn’t think about this when I left my job a few months ago, but it seems like a wonderful idea. Feedback like this can be invaluable if you are willing to act on the responses.

  • Lazy Man and Money

    Like everyone else said, this is a fantastic idea. I’m curious about the specific things they said.

  • Emily

    That really is a fantastic idea! When we leave a job, the company wants to know what we thought about them, but why shouldn’t we get to find out what they think of us? I agree that what we find out would be extremely valuable, especially for future jobs. I just might have to try that next time.

  • marci

    Great idea!

    And here’s my nugget of wisdom: Harmony.
    It’s a ‘mantra’ I used when things got hectic at the office.
    Harmony – Harmony – Harmony…. etc.
    (Quitely, of course)
    I had to remember that I got paid to run a smooth office,
    a friendly office, and I was getting paid to smile – no matter
    how cranky the others were. The staff and public and students
    all deserved to be treated respectfully and friendly.

    Got me thru some tough times!
    A remembrance of what I was getting paid to do.


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