Before you leave your role, you’ll need to serve out a notice period. This is defined as the period between an employee handing in their letter of resignation, and their last working day. During this time you will usually continue to carry out your normal duties while getting ready to hand over your work to your successor.
It is important to conduct yourself professionally throughout this time. Your exciting new role is approaching fast, but now is not the time to start acting up or being slack with your workload.
How long is a notice period?
The period of time you are required to serve your notice for can vary. Your statutory notice in the UK – the legal minimum - is one week if you’ve worked for your employer for fewer than two years, and two weeks if you’ve worked for your employer for longer than this, with an additional week for every extra year you’ve worked.
In practice, though, your notice period is usually set out in your contract of employment and is likely to be longer than this. This contract should have been read and signed by yourself and your employer before you began working for the company, so make sure you check it.
Set up a meeting
It’s always worthwhile setting a meeting with your line manager to discuss your priorities and organise your to-do list before you leave. It may well be the case that you will have a dwindling workload towards the end of your time at the company, but the earlier you have this sit-down with your manager, the sooner you can begin ticking off your checklist, and the smoother your notice period is likely to be.
Don’t lose focus
Although your thoughts are likely to be dominated by your new role, it’s important to remain focussed on your work, continuing your everyday work tasks as normal and offering ideas and insights when required.
Remember, the company doesn’t stop existing the day you decide to leave and abandoning your responsibilities and letting your work slide will only make things more difficult for your manager and colleagues. For the same reasons, it’s important to keep up your attendance, and make sure you’re not regularly arriving to work late.
The more disruption you cause on your way out of the door, the more you likely you are to damage your long-term relationships with your present employer and colleagues, and potentially cast yourself in a poor light to your future employer.
Keep things diplomatic
Unfortunately, not all resignations are amicable and it’s possible that relations with your employer or your colleagues have completely broken down. If so, this is likely to be one of the main reasons why you’re leaving your role. Although in these circumstances it can understandably be hard to stay motivated during your notice period, it’s still best to remain professional and avoid badmouthing your company or your boss.
Badmouthing your company displays a lack of professionalism and is more likely to present a poor image of yourself than of your company. Your future employer will respect you much more if they see you remaining calm and professional in challenging circumstances, rather than publicly attacking your current employer.
Arrange an exit interview
Now that you’ve handed in your resignation (and rejected that testing counteroffer) having another meeting with your manager to discuss your reasons for leaving might seem unnecessary.
But an exit interview can help your manager to understand your reasons for leaving in more detail, and help the company resolve any potential issues they might not have been aware of. If your relationship has soured, it’s an opportunity to clear the air. It’s also a good chance to make sure everything is in order for your departure and ensure that the rest of your notice period goes as smoothly as possible.
Write a detailed handover
Your replacement is unlikely to be fully up to speed on their role when they start, so writing a clear and detailed handover is essential for making it as easy as possible for them to pick up where you left off and will minimise disruption to your company when you leave.
After all, you’ll be in the same boat as your replacement when you start working at your new company, so a good approach here is to think about what kind of handover notes you would like to receive yourself when you start your new role.
Time to start your new role
Following the steps above should help to make your notice period smooth sailing and ensure you can leave your current role with your head held high. I hope this series of articles has been helpful, but if you’re planning on leaving your current role and you think you could do with some professional advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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