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Inching Towards the Last Few Work Days? How to Cope

If you’ve given notice at work and have an exciting new career – adventure all lined up, you will inevitably have to face those final two weeks at your current job.

Oh, it’s a given that you will show up, and that you will work as diligently and as enthusiastically as you always have, but, during those final days, you’ll almost feel as if you need a blueprint of how to behave—especially if it’s the first time you’re leaving a work place situation.

If it’s not the first time for you, you know what we mean.  It’s as if you’re wading in a murky pool…the area where there’s neither the cool, clear area that signifies there’s safety up ahead, nor the remote, rock-laden swamp which alerts you that you are near verboten territory.

Issues You May Encounter

What, exactly, do you say when co-workers want to know how to proceed on a job that you both are working on?   How much responsibility should you take for making sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed on a project which your successor will no doubt revamp once she or he is hired?

All good concerns.  It’s natural to want to leave everything neat and tidy…including half-completed projects.  Too, you don’t want your colleagues to be left wearing egg on their faces because you’re no longer in the loop, and suddenly aren’t aware of the specs and company goals.

Finally, your clients will need to be transitioned…you aren’t too sure about how much responsibility to shoulder for THAT task.

Phew!  If you can think back to your school days, the last few weeks were fun-filled and lighthearted.  In this case, however, you won’t be returning after summer break, and you have your reputation and ethics to think about.

How to Handle the Situation

Ok; so let’s make sure you know exactly HOW to buckle down and deal with the situation maturely and graciously.

It’s perfectly doable!  Make that your intent, and the rest will fall into place.

Here, then, are a few tips for making the best of your final fourteen days in a job that’s soon to be old news:

  1. Do make your time count. Don’t sit around gossiping with soon-to-be ex-colleagues about the good or the bad times which you’ve had.  Instead:  get busy.  Plan the client transitions as best as you can, and don’t be afraid to consult with higher-ups (who, trust us, all know you’re leaving).  The powers-that-be will want to maintain the status quo as much as possible.  There are still deadlines to meet, products and services to move and customers to please. The sales crew will still have to bring in new business and the customer service department will have to smooth ruffled feathers. With all this business-of-doing-business going on, management will cooperate with you as soon as they see that you’re very much still on their team.
  2. In a nutshell, try to keep things from getting into too much of a state of flux. Depart peacefully, efficiently and keep that carrot stick of bigger-and-better in front of you, to facilitate this attitude– if need be.
  3. Make your name in the company synonymous with “fair and considerate”..and a few other choice, positive adjectives. How? Take a few minutes to reflect on those who will be most affected by your leaving.  Think about who the co-workers are who play key roles in your day-to-day job.  Anticipate how their roles will be affected.  Try to make everything go as smoothly as possible for them. They’ll appreciate it mightily when you’re gone…and that smile they give you when you bump into them in the street or in a public eatery once you’ve started your new job will be one of gratitude, relief and “you’re an alright guy/gal!” Besides, wouldn’t you want it to be said of your departure that it was carried out in graciously professional terms?
  4. If you’re asked to groom the person who’s taking your job, see that as the great advantage that it is. Why? You’ll be able to focus most of your attention on training; you  won’t need to plan how you’ll constructively fill your days.  Cool beans, as they say in some regions.
  5. Now, do tell the new “you”—the candidate for your job– everything that you wish YOU you had been told when you first started. For example, explain what the possible pitfalls are when preparing reports: what the trouble spots are, and how best to deal with them.  Also, you’re in a valuable position when it comes to knowing what your boss likes and doesn’t like.  Don’t be tempted to take these clues with you to your next job.  Just put yourself in your successor’s shoes.  Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you that your superior won’t even answer e-mails before 11 in the morning, and certainly won’t welcome having someone barge into his or her office (even if that someone knocks politely, first)?  “Go easy on the boss,” you might say, “Let him have his catching up time with his early morning coffee, and, oh, yeah, that particular coffee will take about three hours to drink!”  At the least, you’ll get a smile out of the newbie.
  6. Yes, you need impeccable references and you need to leave on a good note, but do not feel that you must stay later and get in earlier than is absolutely necessary, especially if you have outside obligations (like family errands) at those times. You should, however, get in on time—no dawdling just because you’re no longer concerned with who sees you punching in at 9:00, versus 9:15. However, if you’re seeing oodles and oodles of stuff piling up on your desk, be candid with your supervisor and mention that you are concerned about your work load; that you honestly don’t think you’re going to be able to handle it all: not by yourself, and not within the two-week time frame. There’s no need to fret about how your comment will be taken: just keep it logical and make sure that you DO tackle as much work as you can handle.
  7. Don’t forget to smile. Delete those e-mails; route those calls; copy those important documents and forward the ledger sheets which will keep things running smoothly, but, in the final analysis, it’s your attitude which will make such a difference in those last two weeks.

Best wishes on your new job!

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