Leaving a job on a positive note is essential.  Here are my top tips on how this can be achieved.

How to handle your notice period

Communicate your departure

Think about how to tell colleagues, stakeholders and clients about your departure and check this with your manager before announcing to others (your manager may want time to prepare the name of the successor first).  When telling people you’re leaving be sure to never say anything negative about your existing employer, but rather focus on your aspirations for the future.  If you do have candid feedback you believe would benefit the organisation or future employees, find out whether you’ll have a chance to fill in a confidential exit survey.

Hand over

Try to keep your momentum up for your existing role until you’re past the finish line.  Invest the time and effort needed to ensure your handover is a smooth one.  If a handover period has been organised, this could mean starting to delegate your work on an increasing basis, or coaching your successor on how to perform your role well.  It’s a good idea to document key information as part of handover and make sure you give a copy to both your successor and your line manager.  

Keep in regular contact with your manager during your notice period and be clear about what the expectations are in terms of your delivery until you leave.  Have a handover timetable so you can evidence progress, and show you still care.

Have a clear-out

Clear out personal possessions, including any personal files stored on your work IT equipment.  Be sure to then return any IT, security or other items belonging to the business.  Organise the other things around your working space – tidy and clean, archive, pass on to others, or throw away.  

Be clear on recommendations

Find out what your company’s policy is regarding provision of recommendations, both in response to formal job applications, and more informally on your LinkedIn profile.

Pay attention to your network

If you’re planning a leaving party, make sure you’ve invited all of your key contacts. On your last day make a point of saying goodbye to as many people as you can in person.  Where you feel it appropriate to do so, provide your ongoing contact details.  

Managing emotions

It’s natural for the anticipation of starting a new to involve a mix of apprehension and excitement.  

Unless you’re part of a redundancy situation, you could be the only one leaving your team on a particular date.  This can be a lonely scenario, and the time when any anxiety about the new role is most likely to kick in.  

This sense of isolation can be exacerbated by the gradual delegation of your work.  Colleagues may start to leave you out of decision-making.  The fact that you are not indispensable can come as a harsh wake-up call.  You may also find that social dynamics begin to change at work – people who you thought were friends stop inviting you to future social events.

Prepare for your new role

To help smooth the transition do what you can outside of working hours to prepare yourself for your new role – familiarise yourself with the responsibilities involved, consider what type of retraining you may need, learn about your new team, business or sector.  Also have a think about how you will re-mould your social network in your new circumstances, which existing relationships you will make an effort to sustain and how you could begin to build on your network when you join your new role.

Keep the momentum up

If you’ve been unhappy in your existing role, however, you may be feeling ‘gate-happy’ and it would be tempting to switch off from your existing role until your leaving date.  Disengaging like this carries a risk that you will end up leaving under a cloud.  Be considerate to colleagues remaining in the organisation by continuing to perform your role to the best of your ability until you leave.  

Leave on a good note

Leaving a good impression in your last few weeks is essential.  Besides the feel-good factor of leaving your role in tip-top condition, you’ll be able to rely on your former colleagues should you need to in the future: whether this is for social support, a recommendation, or even if you want to return to work with them in the future.

Suzy Dale is a professional Career Coach and Owner of Suzy Dale Ltd.  She can be contacted at hello@suzydale.co.uk.

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