End Well in Business and at Work

After 8 years as our first settled woman minister, Rev. Priscilla gave her notice earlier this year.  Today was her last day in the pulpit. The service today was her loving good-bye to our congregation. She plans to take a sabbatical of several months; and then she will sign up for one more stint as an interim minister (a common role in the UU movement), before retiring. Our congregation has hired our own interim minister, and she starts next month.

The service today was a collective and transparent experience of ending an employment relationship, which is certainly more the exception than the rule.  Priscilla remembered many milestones fondly as she spoke:  the people that she had married; the child dedications she had performed; the many memorial services she had presided over; and even the fact that our son Noah was 4 years old when she met him 8 years ago.

Tokens of remembrance were exchanged and given:  the children of our congregation gave Priscilla the gift of homemade prayer flags; Priscilla gave the children each a stone with words like Peace, Love and Harmony engraved upon each stone. Priscilla returned the ministerial stole belonging to the congregation to our President, a clear symbol of finalizing her transition. Many eyes were misty this morning.

As I snapped pictures during the service, I thought of transitions that I had experienced and adjudicated on both sides of the employment relationship:

  • My wonderful boss Tom, who took me out to lunch at the best restaurant in town to lay me off, upset that he had to do so for unexpected financial reasons.  Our respect and admiration for each other made that transition particularly productive:  I committed to finishing my work right up until my layoff date; and Tom committed to helping me any way he could to get my next job.  We were both successful.
  • When my talented HR mentee called me from her maternity leave to tell me that she could no longer make the commute due to childcare, we partnered both in finding her new job (I forwarded her CV to 40 HR leaders locally) and filling her old job.  The timing of our partnership was impeccable:  she was able to train her replacement for a week before she started her new (and unadvertised) job, closer to home and childcare.
  • In preparation for giving my month’s notice to leave the HR leadership job that I loved, I wrote a 20-page cookbook on how to do my job.
  • As my year-long project for my wonderful client came to a close (with several months’ notice), I was their guest at several equally wonderful business events, as a final thank-you for the project.
  • In Tom’s role this time:  as I conducted the layoff conversation with a talented and caring HR practitioner, citing the same reasons – financial – for her separation, while at the same time expressing my appreciation for her good work and my authentic empathy for what she might be experiencing in the moment, she ended our conversation with a spontaneous hug, and expressed her appreciation in return.  Not the typical reaction during a layoff discussion, I can assure you.

How will you lift up mutual respect, esteem and reputation of all involved to end well this week and beyond, in business and at work?

Goodbye, Priscilla


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