I had secured a fantastic new opportunity and was leaving a role I had outgrown, although it had taught me a lot. Faced with a 6 week notice period I hadn’t realised that a lot of my motivation came from long term goals and my own personal impact. Removing this, I found myself hitting “snooze” on my alarm an extra couple of times; instead of visualising the exciting future ahead, I found myself tussling with the same question: have I done enough here to secure my legacy?
Serving out your notice period makes you think introspectively. Like Superman flying towards a kryptonite factory, I felt my power and authority eroding with each day closer to leaving. Emails are sent that I’m no longer copied in on. Meetings can take place without me. And decisions are made that I’m no longer involved in. In fact the tectonic plates of office life move so quickly after resigning that it’s easy to wonder what role you ever had. And if dealing with existential questions isn’t enough, what about the colleagues who brew cloak-and-dagger theories? “Oh, I heard you were leaving,” one muttered nervously. “But I didn’t want to say anything.”
It’s a minefield of politics and emotions. Yet too often notice periods are treated as a necessary inconvenience after resigning. The natural instinct is to take your foot off the gas; serve time, say your goodbyes and exit in a blaze of a leaving bash.
But before getting too cavalier, think about the wider implications. Your notice period is probably the last impression your employer has of you to base any future references on.
With this in mind, here are our top tips to turning your notice period into a positive experience:
What changes should you make during your notice period?
The answer is ‘none at all’. Your attitude to your work should be no different to its usual high standards right up to the moment you walk out the door for the final time. These are people who you may well encounter again one day and you can use this opportunity to leave them with a great impression. You should demonstrate your loyalty until the very end.Don’t assume that the spotlight will be taken off you just because you won’t be there in a week or a month. Your manager may well be keeping an eye on you to make sure that you’re not taking your foot off the pedal. Even if they aren’t, you need to make sure that you leave the business in a great place, which means tying up loose ends and putting together a comprehensive handover.
Avoid the workplace “atmosphere”
Whilst you shouldn’t become paranoid, remember that your colleagues, particularly your direct reports and maybe even your managers may be just as nervous about the change, especially if you’ve been in the business for some time. This situation will only be made worse if the information isn’t communicated clearly and it doesn’t take much for a lot of cloak and dagger theories and rumours to develop.Taking time to reassure more junior members of staff who you’ve been working with can really boost their confidence and make a difference to the workplace atmosphere. Find out what you’re allowed to say and when, so you can put an end to awkward conversations and ‘secret meetings’ as soon as possible.
This can also be a slightly isolated time for you. Bear in mind that emails may be sent around without including you, meetings will happen without you and decisions will be taken in which you’re no longer involved. This is just something you have to get over.
Timing is key
Making a timetable of what you need to accomplish in your notice period can help to give you more structure. Decide who you need to tell and by when. Decide a timeframe on when you will sensibly need to hand over each task, leaving time for the new owner of the task to be trained and come across any potential problems that night need your help.
It’s unlikely you’ll even come close to finishing all the projects you’re involved with but delegating and upskilling your colleagues can give them a real chance to shine and ensure your legacy continues!
Downplay your future plans
Sometimes it’s hard to hide your light under a bushel and put your trumpet away, but when co-workers and managers ask you about your future plans, treat them like strangers at a party. Politely answer their questions, but don’t go overboard about how happy you are to be leaving, how much more money you’ll be making, how long you’d been looking, etc. It will just come across as very negative towards your current job and co-workers and won’t paint you in the best light. Additionally, you don’t know their motives for wanting that information. Play it safe, be positive and polite but don’t rub anything in anyone’s face.
Leave a (good) lasting impression
Any small things you can do to help out will be very much welcomed by the company you’re leaving and will help to leave everyone with a good word to say about you — which is never a bad thing. Of course, you should leave a great handover with any ongoing projects but if you can go above and beyond, it will be noticed and appreciated. If you know who is stepping into your role, book some time to go through unfinished projects with them. If it’s a new starter, offer to train them on key systems to get them up to speed.
Thank you’s and good bye’s
Talk to your line manager, HR and Senior Colleagues, request a reference by email or via Linked In. Once you start your new role you’ll be super busy so this is a great time to enhance your Linked In profile, your new work colleagues are sure to use it to check you out.
If you used a recruiter, pick their brains for advice, hints and tips and ask to be put into contact with other people they’ve placed in the same company or role.
Everyday’s a school day!
Even though you’re working a notice period, for all the reasons above, this isn’t the time to kick back and relax, quite the opposite. As you transfer your knowledge and project ownership you may feel a bit out on a limb. This is a great time to consider your own personal and professional development in relation to your new role. Hopefully you’ve asked relevant enough questions at your final interview and requested your interview feedback to help you identify where you might upskill during this period. Is there a beneficial computer program you could improve your skills on? Are there any recent publications about the company you’re joining you could read? If there’s anyone you (sort-of) know who’s already working there, now’s the time to reach out for some insider knowedge.
To vacay or to staycay…?
If you have a gap between finishing your employment and your start date. It may be a great time to plan in a holiday or trip to truly relax with no work to think of at all. Even a weekend away can help you start your new role refreshed and energised!
And finally, things your might not know about your notice period:
Enjoy working your notice period, ultimately your employer is sure to be sad to be seeing you go. Fantastic luck from all at Sourced in your new job!