Don't blow up your career on your notice period
How to avoid making Netflix & chill your lifestyle during the Great Resignation
You know that feeling after your body has evacuated every last piece of the nuclear orange chicken chilly you gobbled down last night? Handing in your resignation letter at a toxic workplace can elicit similar feelings. The day I quit my previous job, the temptation to go around the office pouring shots down my co-worker’s throats was running dangerously high. I — like many others — found it difficult to navigate my workplace during the notice period. I was ready to Usain Bolt out of there.
Even if your office was more like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi than Kasauti Zindagi Kay — with your parivar-like coworkers and a healthy working environment — surviving your notice period without falling down the Netflix rabbit hole is difficult.
According to Leisanne Pinto, recruiter and HR professional, people are betting on themselves more than they have in the past because of the ‘pandemic effect’. “People are trying to find jobs where they can do their best work, and are unapologetic about it,” she says.
As the era of the ‘Great Resignation’ is upon us — the worldwide phenomenon where an unprecedented number of people are quitting their jobs at the same time — what are some things that an employee must always do to ensure a smooth transition during their notice period?
We looked to seasoned professionals for advice on maintaining proper etiquette during the notice period — without pulling impromptu doctor’s appointments and random bouts of flu out of our hats like magicians.
7 tips to surviving your notice period without derailing your career
Tie up all loose ends
Remember watching those dramatic ‘I quit’ moments in movies? The protagonist gathers all their personal memorabilia in cardboard box before flouncing out the door with their head held high. Clearing your computer of those cat memes you saved while trying to maintain a low profile is the real-life equivalent.
It’s better to remove all your personal effects from a work computer yourself than leave it to your successor. Back up all your important information on your Google drive before you lose access to it.
Wrapping up active initiatives and properly handing off ongoing projects or duties should be your top focus. Some questions that you must ask yourself during your notice period are:
- Who will be in charge of each of your projects and responsibilities in the future? Nothing should be overlooked, no matter how minor it may appear.
- What are the deadlines for each of your projects and tasks to be transferred to their new owners? To give yourself some buffer, all of these changes should take place at least a week before your notice period ends.
- What particular tasks will you finish before leaving the company, and how long do you expect each activity to take? Don’t forget about administrative tasks like filing exit paperwork.
Don’t put things off till the last day — or minute. Leaving with all your ends tied up neatly demonstrates your concern for the coworkers, even if you are no longer employed there.
Don’t burn your bridges
Yes, it may be gratifying to tell your boss that working for them is worse than having to chew on raw elaichi. While the feeling will only last a few moments, people will remember them forever.
According to Stephen Viscusi, host of On the Job and author of On the Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work, how you depart from an old job will always impact your future career. Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Simply leave with your hard-earned professionalism intact.
He says in his book, “You can have a formal exit interview with HR to air your grievances. Make sure it’s truly formal in nature.” As an HR manager, Pinto agrees.
Although feedback is important, she adds that you must look at the culture of your organisation before making your issues known. “Is your company one that welcomes radical candour?” she asks.
The most crucial part of an effective job exit is to express your grievances without using that opportunity to throw a coworker under the bus
Not only will you need a reference from your previous employer, but it’s quite likely that you’ll run into someone from your previous workplace in the future, whether as a coworker, client, or supervisor.
Preserve your network
When you let the penny drop about your resignation — depending on whether you’re the MVP or public enemy number one — you will get different reactions from your coworkers.
In larger companies, not offering an explanation can lead to speculation. If you do not enjoy the haunting silence that descends on the office canteen every time you go for lunch, arrange catch-ups with your mentor and coworkers to let them know that you will be moving on soon.
They will wonder why you’re quitting, so prepare a positive message about advancing in your career and taking on new challenges. Make sure everyone has your contact information and knows how to get in touch with you if need be.
Although we’ve stressed on the importance of leaving peacefully, people tend to forget that bridges need to be maintained too.
“You should continue to build and maintain your relationship with your coworkers right up to the point you leave and even thereafter,” says Pinto. You can do that simply by connecting with them on platforms like LinkedIn and sending brief notes, every now and then.
Talent acquisition and job-search consultant Heidi Byrne suggests asking your boss if you can share the news of your resignation with the clients. Your clients may have counted on you for a variety of services, and you may wish to keep those ties preserved in the future.
“Once your company gives you the green light, you can of course reach out to clients to let them know you are moving on,” she says. “Just be aware of what’s in your agreement about soliciting clients after you’ve left.”
Exceed performance expectations
It’s easy to get sucked into cruise control and let yourself OD on sappy Netflix originals during your notice period. But that will only end up destroying the goodwill that you have worked so hard to cultivate within the organisation.
When someone who has given their resignation is late for work or takes unscheduled leaves, it is distressing and ends up affecting the performance of the entire team. How you act in the weeks leading up to the end of your notice period will have an impact on your future references and even create an unfavourable impression of you.
Divya Marasini, a marketing professional who recently moved to London for a new job says it’s vital that you don’t treat your notice period as a vacation. “To make sure you leave on the same high, you must go to work with the same respect that you had for it for all the years that you worked in that organisation.”
Instead of spending your time watching beauty fails on Youtube, Marasini suggests making sure that your deliverables are fulfilled so that you “don’t leave your colleagues high and dry”. Have a chat with your team members to understand the things you can do to help out. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Maintain your professional routine as much as possible. Talk to your boss about your job expectations, and then go above and beyond in terms of scope and timeliness.
Remember that until you leave, you are still being paid and committed to doing your work to the best of your ability. Complete any outstanding duties and transfer any unfinished work to make it as easy as feasible for your colleagues.
Show your appreciation
This part might make you weepy, especially because you have to say goodbye to your work spouse too. Your partner on chai-sutta breaks, the first person you run to when you hear a particularly juicy bit of gossip and need to tell someone.
Separating from a work spouse is difficult, considering that you’ve likely spent the bulk of your waking and working hours together — they might have even heard you fart after a heavy lunch of aloo paranthas.
Take the time to express gratitude to everyone who has assisted you in becoming successful in your job. Your modesty and kindness will not go unnoticed.
Ankita Singh, a finance professional, recalls her own experience of writing a letter to her first boss when she left the job. “He always made me feel appreciated while I was working for him, which is what motivated me to push myself. I wanted to do the same for him.”
Pinto too recommends sending personalised letters/emails to the people you closely work with.”Talk about your experience with them, what you’ve learnt from them and what you’re going to carry forward,” she says.
At any going-away parties, single individuals out and show your appreciation of their assistance. Make sure to write a farewell email to your immediate colleagues.
Apologize for all the times you may have been unpleasant and express your gratitude for their support and advice. In a nutshell, observe the niceties. You’ll feel better for it.
Offer to train your replacement
Go out of your way to lend a helping hand if you want to leave a lasting impression. You can help your supervisor with the knowledge transfer to your team or to the individual who will take over your position or duties.
It’s a small world, and news travels faster than you would think. You will only benefit from the efforts you make before departing.
Create a continuity guide containing notes on key projects, daily duties, primary contacts etc. and upload them on a drive. You can even email this guide to your manager and any relevant stakeholders, which will ensure you’ve left no room for doubt.
Marasini suggests giving your successor a free hand during your notice period. “Within a week of having introduced my replacement to all the stakeholders, I took a backseat so that they could become more confident in the role while acquainting themselves with how it would feel with me not around.”
You could also give some pointers or advice that will help your successor thrive in their new role.
Get information on your employee benefits
Make an appointment with your boss or a benefits consultant in the Human Resources department. Secure information regarding vacation pay, health coverage continuity, retirement account implications, severance pay, if applicable, and other benefits that will extend after you leave your job.
According to Pinto, the situation might become uncomfortable if you ask these questions point-blank. “A better way to approach this conversation would be to ask the HR about the details of the exit process, including things that they might need to hand over to you as an employee on their way out,” she says.
You may be entitled to compensation from your company for unused vacation time, sick time, or paid time off (PTO). In most cases, unused time is paid out as a lump sum.
In India, for example, you may be entitled to gratuity, any accumulated bonus, ESOPs, insurance, and other benefits. Pinto recommends it’s a good idea to first find out what your rights are before you put in your resignation.