What a weight off of your shoulders. After months of searching, applying and interviewing, you have finally been offered an amazing opportunity. The contract is signed and sealed with your new employer; you’ve handed in your notice at your current one, so now you can relax. Right?
Knowing that there’s an end in sight at your current job will naturally put you more at ease, especially if you have been unhappy for some time. But there’s a difference between feeling at ease and clocking off completely once you have handed in your notice, and I would strongly advise against the latter.
Last impressions count
During your time at your current employer, you will have worked hard to build a professional brand and reputation. Don’t damage this now by letting the quality or quantity of your work slip. After all, the way you behave in the next few weeks will most likely build a picture of how you will be remembered once you’re gone.
This, in turn, will determine whether you walk away from this job with the door left open behind you, or firmly shut. Even if you never want to return, you need to leave on good terms with your manager for the sake of your future references and reputation.
Furthermore, you want your colleagues to think and speak highly of you, as you never know when your professional paths may cross again. You may well need a former colleague to recommend you for a role, introduce you to a useful connection, or keep their ear to the ground for promising opportunities in their industry.
Taking all of this into consideration, how can you ensure you leave your current organisation on the best possible note?
1. Extend an olive branch
It can be hard for a team to hear that a valued colleague is going to be leaving, especially when this news is delivered by somebody else such as your manager, as it so often is. That’s why it’s important that you take the time to personally explain to your closest colleagues why you are leaving. When doing so, focus your reasons on the positive aspects of your new role, rather than the negatives of your current one.
Let your colleagues know how much you have valued your time working together, and that you would like to keep in contact. Once you’ve extended this olive branch and let them know that your decision to hand in your notice was professional, not personal, they should be congratulatory and keen to keep professional ties.
2. Don’t let your performance slip
In some respects, maintaining your brand will simply mean continuing as you were and not letting your professionalism slide after handing in your notice; i.e.- performing to a high standard, dressing smart for work, being punctual, responding promptly to emails, not speaking negatively to colleagues or clients about your employer and so forth.
However, you’ll also need to use this time to tie up any loose ends so that people aren’t scrambling to finish work which you left half-way through, as this can be very damaging to the legacy you leave behind. So, sit down with your boss and clarify exactly which projects and tasks you need to complete and the deadlines for these, and which ones are to be handed over to your successor. Confirm the handover process, plus who you should transfer your skills and knowledge to within your team. These plans should be shared with your colleagues so that they are all aware and aligned.
I will also add that if you start getting excluded from email trails and meetings which you think you should be invited to, then speak up. This is necessary in order for you to work as effectively as you always have done over your last few weeks. People may assume that you no longer want to be looped in because you are leaving, but there’s still work to do and you haven’t left yet!
3. Keep the door open
As your last week approaches, start planning your personal farewells and thank yous, especially for anyone who has particularly helped your career or acted as a mentor. A bit of gratitude can go a long way, and people will be touched that you took the time to acknowledge their part in your success story. Remember to connect on online professional networks and if appropriate, exchange contact details.
Let these colleagues know that you hope to keep in contact, stay true to your word, and check in regularly after you leave; from congratulating them on a company or personal success, to sharing a news article with them that they may find useful. If you feel it is appropriate and sincere, you could also write them a recommendation on LinkedIn or endorse them for a skill. The key is to keep the door open, as you never know when you might need this contact in the future.
Yes, an exciting new job is on the horizon for you, and soon there will be plenty of work to do to ensure that you get off to a strong start, but just because you have handed in your notice, doesn’t mean you should let your performance drop at your current company. Especially if you want to walk away with a network of connections under your belt, your professional reputation intact, and a team of past colleagues saying “well, they have left some big shoes to fill!”
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