On Episode 8 of Season 5 of Mad Men, Megan, Don Draper’s second wife, tells Don that she wants to leave Sterling Cooper Draper Price to go back to her real passion, acting. She offers to give notice and train her replacement. Don responds to her by telling her that she can leave at once and there is no need for her to train her replacement. Her last day will be tomorrow. One can’t help but think that there is a bit of resentment and hostility in his quick decision – secretly mad and disappointed that he and his wife don’t share the same thrill from landing an ad campaign for, say, beans.
But Don has a point. If an employee is already distracted by their dreams, which have nothing to do with the job they do for you, is it really beneficial to have them around for 2-4 weeks longer? Maybe it really is best to let them fly away. The company existed before Megan got there and continues to exist after she leaves. So why do so many people feel so guilty about leaving their job, and never feel like they are giving enough at the end – even if they’ve given years to the company, gave one month’s notice and thoroughly trained their replacement?
Which leads to this question, played out in Made Men scene and in many real people’s daily lives:
Is there such a thing as giving too much notice at a job?
The answer is YES! And I’m the sucker who gave it!
Bush probably met with Obama once or twice to show him a few files and how to sleep at your desk without anyone noticing. For some reason, at the last job I left, I felt that my resignation should surpass a Presidential one and I gave one month with the option of freelancing after if not everything was in place. Most people told me it was unnecessary, extraneous and excessive, but I really had no other option. Or so I thought.
The appropriate number of weeks’ notice depends on many variables, like whether you have a contract that states the amount you’re supposed to give, whether it’s a busy time of year for the company or many other factors found in this great list of guidelines. Of course, if you have another job you’re starting right away, it could depend on when that company needs you as well. Yes, you should always leave your job with dignity but no, you don’t have to give six months in order to do that.
Here’s what may happen if you give a generous one month’s notice. I am basing this premonition on my blood-stained diary entries from my last month of my job in 2009:
Week 1: Everyone circles around you like a gaggle of geese upon hearing the news. You suddenly realize the people who you thought hated you are going to miss you more than their dead uncle. One person even bakes you a cake with Quaißl eggs and leaves it in a basket. And that person works on a different floor and at a different company. Towards the end of the first week, you and your co-workers have bonded so much that you apply to play in “Family Feud: The Workplace Edition.”
Week 2: You come in that Monday to a list of things you can’t forget to do before leaving. It’s a scroll, really, and it’s so long that it hangs out the window and touches down on Broadway and 34th St. And you work in Staten Island.
Week 3: You start coming into work with an extra bounce in your step, with the taste of freedom on the tip of your tongue while your co-workers begin to slowly turn on you. You catch on to this after receiving your fourth piece of hate-mail written in newspaper cut-out letters. Then you notice them logging into your Facebook account and posting Satanic Verse on your page. By Thursday night of Week Three, they are burning a Vodou doll of your body on the High Line.
Week 4: There is still no replacement and no job posting on any career website. You ask your boss if they’re planning to hire somebody and he has an unintelligible nervous breakdown at your feet. “How can you leave us?” followed by “Please don’t go!” followed by “WE NEED MORE TIME! YOU DIDN’T GIVE ENOUGH! EVERYONE KNOWS IT TAKES 20 WEEKS TO FIND SOMEONE!”
More time? I gave you a month! How much more time do you need?
Lesson Learned: Give two weeks notice unless your contract states otherwise, change your name and ask the stranger with the quail eggs for a reference. And if you see smoke coming from the High Line, you know it’s probably time to pack up.
But do your best to make sure your co-workers don’t feel like you threw them under the bus. You may need a reference down the road and of course you’ll all have to get along for your close-ups of “Family Feud: The Workplace Edition.”
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