The Final Countdown
The time after your resignation is a critical period in your career. Here’s how to keep your reputation intact.
People often think that working your notice period is an opportunity to wind down before your next big challenge, but it’s actually a very important time in your career.
In my experience, there are a number of things employees commonly do after they’ve handed in their resignation. Whether it’s taking your foot off the gas, bragging to colleagues about how great your next job will be, or being disloyal around customers, these are all urges that you need to resist.
Prepare before you resign
Before you quit, make sure you’ve given some thought to the way you’re going to describe your new job to colleagues. Be positive, but try not to be too upbeat as you don’t want to upset anyone.
There’s a good chance that some co-workers will feel a little disappointed that you’re leaving. Staffing changes can bring with them office politics and mixed emotions, so it’s likely that your relationships with some of your colleagues will change too. Being aware of this in advance will help you to take it less personally.
Stay motivated until the end
Depending upon the length of your notice period – which you should always expect and offer to honour – it can be quite difficult to stay enthusiastic and focused.
Don’t get fooled into thinking that your actions no longer carry any serious consequences as, even though the threat of dismissal has gone, there are still two major things you have to lose: the respect of your employer and the respect of your former colleagues.
Let go of the reigns
As plans are drawn up to replace you, you’ll regularly feel like any authority you used to have is disappearing on an almost daily basis.
This is when you really have to fight the impulse to treat work like it’s getting in the way of your new and exciting future. Stay rational and work with your employer to allow a transfer of power to take place on their terms.
Work with your employer
Make sure you give reasonable notice, resign politely and are respectful about how your employer wishes to inform your colleagues about your decision.
Offer to help with the recruitment and training of your replacement. One of the biggest concerns people have about staff leaving is the knowledge they take with them, so try to provide a comprehensive handover that people will find useful for a long time after you’re gone.
Help your colleagues
Try to finish as many of your ongoing projects as possible. Even though this is now an old job for you, it’s going to be a new job for someone else, so try to leave it in the best possible place.
Be considerate and support your colleagues by lightening their workload and agreeing with your employer what will be completed and what the alternatives are for any projects that can’t be finished.
As an employer, feedback on why you’re leaving is really valuable but it has to be constructive. There’s no need to criticise individuals or get personal in your exit meeting. Try to cooperate, be thoughtful and helpful in your comments.
Consider that your references will be requested at some point in the near future and you don’t want a good reputation tarnished with an unfair view of you when you were working your notice period.
It’s just business
Remember that wherever you work is business, it’s not personal, so go into your notice period with thick skin and try to show the same attitude and outlook that you had when you first walked through the door.
This is the way you want people to think of you in terms of your approach to work and your professional integrity, so make sure you leave a positive impression and have a smooth exit.
After all, if the move doesn’t work out you might even want them to take you back!