Working your notice period – what to do … and what not!

You have resigned, you may or may not have been counter offered, however you have done the right thing and have not given in to the temptation to stay where you are. You now seem to be in that strange area of “no man’s land”, whilst working your notice.

In the first few days and maybe weeks, you still feel (a sometimes) strong loyalty to the company, colleagues and boss who you are set to leave, however as the clock keeps ticking, so that loyalty erodes and you find yourself in a situation where you really now want to move on to pastures new and your enthusiasm for going into work each day starts to wane…

Rather than being taken over by events, it may help you to feel in control of your situation and the following To-Do list (and To-Don’t-Do list) will help you do that:

1. Your resignation has been accepted and a leaving date has been agreed.

2. First things first, agree with your manager how and when your departure will be announced and by whom. I know it will be difficult, however some restraint is required here. Do not tell anyone before it is announced (not even your PA or most trusted colleague) – if it leaks, it won’t be contained and there will be only one person blamed for the leak. You just cannot afford to put your manager’s back up at this stage as you will still need him as a reference.

3. Next make sure you agree what holiday entitlement you still have, are you going to take some to make up the last few days or weeks of your notice period?
a. This is a great idea, it will allow you to re-charge the batteries, mentally severe any emotional ties with the old place and start to prepare for the new place.
b. If you are going to be paid out for the holiday entitlement, make sure to agree with HR the exact number of days and the amount that is due (you don’t want to sort any discrepancies out when you have just started a new job. Best to get it sorted before you leave).

4. Will you be due any bonus? Again, make certain to agree exactly how much and when it will be paid. If the bonus payment is not due for some time after your leaving date, you may want to consider doing a deal with the company, ie pay me slightly less bonus than I’m entitled to, however pay it in my last pay check please. When you have received it, it is difficult to take away, whereas in a few months’ time, should there be a regime change, you may have to fight for that bonus to be paid…

5. And the same goes for share options. There are a whole lot of different schemes, so difficult to give one universal piece of advice, other than: make sure you have agreed what happens to your options and have it in writing before you leave!

6. Car, laptop, phone, company credit card, keys to the company flat, etc. Don’t just assume you’re to hand everything in on the last day. Take the initiative and speak with HR to agree a hand over, that way you are (or at least you feel) in control of the process.

7. And then it comes to the actual work, make sure to agree (in writing – an email will do) with your boss what work needs to be completed and by when, what projects need to be handed over and to whom, agree how completion or hand over is measured. You do not want to be in a situation where you are regarded as a poor leaver, because they feel that your work was sub-standard or the hand over was rushed…You are the ultimate professional and you want to be remembered as just that.

8. Agree with you manager and IT, which files to leave on your laptop / PC and which to delete. I’m assuming that you have copied anything worthwhile before you resigned – I’m not condoning it, but human nature is human nature…

9. Finally, if there is a farewell or leaving party, make sure to be gracious to the end (even to that money grabbing, non-PC senior director). You never know where you will come across your soon to be ex-colleagues again, so do not burn any bridges!

What you do NOT want to do is:

a. Take sick leave – however bad that hangover, man flu or broken leg, drag yourself into the office, because even if you are genuinely ill, you’ll be judged as skiving. Go in and let your boss send you home. Reputations are not made during notice periods, however they are very easy to lose…

b. Materially change your working hours, if you’re always at your desk at 8am, don’t start arriving at 9am. Make sure people believe that you are fully committed to the bitter end (even if you are not).

c. Increase your expense claim pattern. You’re leaving, chances are that you are entertaining less clients, travel less and therefore spend less. A material increase in your monthly expense may be totally justified, however it is rarely seen as that. Kerb it.

d. Talk incessantly about you leaving, your new job, salary, car or circumstances. You don’t want to be seen as causing dissatisfaction amongst your colleagues and they will soon tire from hearing about your future.

e. Voice a negative opinion about your current business, it will sound like sour grapes and it is ugly. Just don’t.

f. Surf the internet at work for your own pleasure, even if that is what you have always done…Your internet usage may be monitored by IT, any policy breaches may result in dismissal, which in itself may jeopardise your new job….Be really careful with this one.

g. Steal / borrow stationery for use at home (as in above, it could have nasty consequences).

Want to discuss further or you feel you need advice? Give me a ring!