How to serve your notice period

Maintaining your professional reputation can come down to how well you pass the baton. Regardless of why you’re leaving a job it’s important to know how to serve your notice period professionally so that your reputation remains in great shape.

Serve your notice period productively

Your notice period can seem like a countdown of days to get through but don’t be tempted to drop everything and leave a mess of unfinished business. 

Remember, you are serving your notice period; you’re not on leave. And while it may not be possible to complete all your projects before your last day, working out a plan of priorities and action with your manager can help you clear key tasks. 

While you may not be required to attend meetings or engage in planning for new ventures during your notice period, this shouldn’t be seen as a cue to take extremely long lunch breaks or arrive to work late. If anything, use your new-found free time to help out colleagues with their tasks. Or, if your replacement has already come on board, take the time to explain the finer aspects of the job to streamline the handover.

Focus on the positive 

Stay professional at all times while serving out your notice period. Importantly, resist the urge to gossip or complain about your boss and co-workers. You may be leaving, but your colleagues aren’t and there’s no good reason to lower their morale with negativity. 

Instead, focus on everything you’ve enjoyed about the job and the company. On top of sending an e-mail to thank everyone for the experience, consider giving a small gift that all members of your team can share as a token of your appreciation.

Remain diplomatic 

Honesty may be the best policy but when it comes to serving out your notice period, some things are best left unsaid. 

This is never more important than if you are asked to provide feedback about the company in an exit interview or survey. Where that’s the case, aim to strike a balance between truth and tact. Your employer will be more likely to take your comments on board if they are presented as constructive criticism rather than unsubstantiated or salacious sneers. A few negative jibes can easily damage your professional reputation.

Remember, actions speak louder than words

If you’re unsure about how to serve out your notice period professionally, just aim to take the moral high ground.  

Even if you feel you have been wronged by the company, there is a time and place to set the record straight. That time is not when you’re about to leave the company, especially if you’re planning to ask for a recommendation or professional reference. 

Don’t take a change in team spirit personally

People deal with the coming and going of co-workers differently, and it pays not to feel disheartened if your colleagues aren’t inclined to include you in their chat while you’re serving your notice period. Some colleagues may even try to maintain their distance, especially if your new job is with a competitor. 

It can be hard if you feel you’re no longer part of a familiar team, however a positive attitude helps to break down barriers. Keep a smile on your face as you work through each business day and remember it won’t be long before you’re in a new and exciting role.

Handling goodbyes during your notice period

Use your notice period to strengthen your professional network. Bring morning tea to work for your colleagues before you leave, and where possible accept invitations for a farewell lunch, drinks or dinner. It’s your chance to have informal chats with co-workers, reminisce over past successes and pass on details of how colleagues can stay connected with you.

Emotions may run high in the pressure of a workplace, but your most difficult colleagues may turn out to be really nice people outside of the office. Even if they aren’t, that’s behind you now and you’ve got a new stage in your career to look forward to.

Serving out your notice period in a professional way can ensure the experience gained in your current role serves you well in the next phase of your career – and beyond.