The Notice Period
Next week is going to be my last week in the office and honestly I couldn’t have asked for anything else. To make it special, I sent around a diary for everybody to write on, whatever they felt. I sent it to the team, to colleagues who had become friends and to colleagues with whom I had not seen eye to eye on several issues. The last time I had done it was in high school and when I’d done my post-graduation. It was called an autograph book then. I have the autograph books until date and reading the messages written still makes me smile. Coming back to the present, as the book moved around the office and people called to say “Good bye” and “All the best”, it was an amazing feeling. Knowing the work that you have done with your heart has been valued by one and all, is the best farewell gift one can hope for.
This was the organisation I had quit 3 years ago, because I needed a break and I had been called back after six months, not because the team hadn’t managed but because they hadn’t looked out for a replacement. They had simply waited to see if I would be ready after the break and I had been.
Seeing the response again despite my decision to leave a second time and that too so soon, I felt the need to write this post. I have seen loads of resignations during the past so many years and most often than not, I’ve seen it turn nasty despite the fact that the employees had been great professionals prior to handing over the resignation. The truth is nobody benefits this way and the sad bit people will eventually forget what you did but will remember how you made them feel during the last few days. The notice period does not have to be messy. It shouldn’t be a period when negative emotions fly high, especially since you know you’re going anyways. Why end with bitter memories? You cannot control others but you can control your responses and your actions.
So if you’re moving out, read below or if you have ever moved out do read and let me know if I’ve covered all the points.
The last one month or three months that you need to spend in an organization once you’ve resigned are the most crucial. It’s this period that defines great employees from good or mediocre employees. Whether you liked your boss or not, liked your team or not, liked the work environment or not, it’s important that you don’t show your dislike now if you haven’t done it in the past. Leave peacefully. It doesn’t show weakness. It shows maturity.
The points I have listed below are based on my personal experience and based on the fact that I have received a call back from every organisation I have left. The idea of this post is not to brag. It’s meant to help those who are starting out in their careers and those who are somewhere in between.
And NO, I wasn’t called back because of a high I.Q. It’s simply because of hard work, sincerity and dedication till the last day, which is what every and any orgaization is looking for. And honestly, that’s something that’s easy to do. It’s no rocket science. Simply do what you do to the best of your ability sincerely. Show you care.
- 1. ) Inform your boss of your decision/intention to leave
Speaking to the boss of your intention shows trust in the boss. It’s always to speak to the boss rather than walking in and thrusting the resignation letter on his table. Take him confidence and see how he wants to go about it. Your boss may even make an offer that may want you to stay back. Then you may not even have to take the trouble of preparing the letter. If you just have to leave, then it gives him time to plan on the replacement and how to take it forward. Some people don’t like talking about it because they think it may have an impact on their bonus, the boss’s attitude towards them once the boss knows you are moving. Its always worked for me in my favor.
2. Do not burn your bridges
So what if you are moving to another organisation? The fact of the matter is you are clueless as to how that organisation is going to be. You obviously hope its better than your last but you cannot say. Also, what if your previous company decides to take you back and gives you the pay-raise or the title you wanted? You may even think of going back. It would be rather embarrassing if you’ve bad-mouthed the company.
3. Do not bad mouth the company
Think of how happy you were when you joined the company. There was a time you were grateful for the job. When the job no longer satisfies you, leave. Do not crib and grumble. Just leave. And if you cannot because you do not have an offer, then be grateful for the job in hand. Bad mouthing the company only shows your personality. The company does not get affected by a cribber.
4. Train the replacement
I’ve always believed that when you teach, you learn. Share all the relevant information so that there is a smooth transition. Trust me you do not prove your importance by hiding information. Rather you show the confidence you have in yourself by providing a complete handover. Document the training. There will always be some people who will point out and say the training wasn’t adequate or that information wasn’t shared etc. but what matters is your conscience. So train wholeheartedly. Ensure there is nothing lacking in the knowledge transfer. It may get slightly difficult if your replacement is a “Know it all” person or goes over-the-top by saying “It’s fine. You needn’t worry because you’re leaving anyway”. It does not matter. Do your job and train!
5. Handover all pending projects and open items
As much as you’d like to complete everything and leave, it’s not possible. There will always be things that are work in progress. These must be handed over to the delegated person.
6. Don’t start playing hooky because you’re on the notice period
It’s extremely important to carry yourself with utmost professionalism during the notice period and not be fooling around. That’s what people will remember about you, when you leave. As excited as you are of your future plans, you must keep them to yourself and not be discussing them with everybody around.
7. Introduce the team, the stakeholders to the Replacement
Make it easy for the team to accept the replacement and for the replacement to understand the team by introducing the replacement and having a team meeting. Inform the stakeholders of the replacement so that they are prepared for the change. Remember they have a right to know. Sometimes, bosses may like to delay sharing the information as much as possible to avoid chaos. However, in such cases, you must necessarily speak to your boss and ensure the team and stakeholders are informed at-least 2 weeks before you leave. Ensure you give the stakeholders confidence on the replacement.
8. Saying Thank you and Good byes
Make a list of people you wish to thank and say good bye too in time so that you do not forget anybody. Whatever happened in the course of work such as disagreements and arguments must be left behind when you end work. Its a small world. You never know when you will cross paths again.
9. Clear your drawers and table
Give your replacement a table, a cabin as you would like to receive when you join an organisation. You don’t want somebody doing a spring cleaning of your seat and cabin because of all the mess you’ve left behind. Take your personal paraphernalia and clear your stuff at-least one week before you leave.
There are other things like handing over keys and completing the exit interview, clear your credit card, get your clearance certificate etc which the H.R. will take care off. Get your reference letter. Even if you think you’re not going to work, getting a letter is your right because of the period of time you have worked. You never know when you might need it.
Show grace and bid Farewell
There may be times that your patience will be tested during this period when some people doubt you despite your best efforts. Be Gracious!
On your farewell, talk about all the good experiences you had in the organisation and what you learnt. You couldn’t have stuck around for all this time if there wasn’t anything good. Take pictures and take away a lot of good memories. Life’s finally not about the material things. While material things do satisfy your immediate needs and wants, your need for self-actualization happens when there’s a deep satisfaction within (remember Maslow’s Theory). So build some good memories.
Remember building a reputation takes time but losing it takes moments.
It’s my last week at office but the one thing that I’ve heard from my supporters and my detractors is “You’re a professional”. Of-course I am happy. The best comment I have received is from the Audit team, “You made our work easier. You may be leaving but you’ve left a legacy behind. “. I think that’s what each one of us wants at the end to leave behind “A legacy”, that sustains long after we’ve left.
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