Today’s1 my last day on-site with a valued client. Here are some goodbye thoughts to my colleagues. I will miss you.
Emptying the cube
That cube which has been my home for all those hours, all those projects, all those impromptu white-board sessions, has been emptied, cleaned and scrubbed.
The clearing out always fascinates me. Where does all the stuff come from? As a Getting Things Done (GTD) type, I like to think of myself as more ruthless than most in disposing of stuff. Still, there was a lot.
And over there: the pile of important project reference documents, left so neatly stacked. A week from now, will anyone care?
My friends descend
I saw them last Thursday, days before I was to leave, hovering at the outer edge of my space. It only took a smile for them to come closer.
[Friend A]: Can I have your mouse? Mine is so bad and the help desk has been trying for a week to get me a new one.
[Friend B]: Can I have that thing on your desk?
[Me]: (pointing to the organizer) Do you mean this or the inbox?
[Friend B]: Oh. All of it.
You’ve been to goodbye lunches. They’re hard to avoid, and sometimes harder to attend.
At mine I feel touched and a little hesitant to talk. A. asks me to sit at the head of the seemingly long table. I grab a seat more towards the middle. The lunch is crowded. We fill two tables. More people than expected are here. Most impressive to me is H., usually somewhat reclusive, who effortlessly makes the rounds at both tables like an old school aristocrat or film star.
I’m already missing everyone.
HR professionals generally agree that strong work connections are one of the key factors in employee retention. Saying goodbye is hard.
Those small and large negotiations over project goals, strategies, personalities and styles seem so far away. How they mattered at the time!
When did the friendships become so strong?
When someone resigns, there are inevitable questions. We want to know why. We want to know how it will impact us. Some questions we ask:
Why are you leaving?
I don’t remember where you said you are going. (I didn’t say.)
Is his work going to fall on me?
We generally need a reason that makes sense. Saying goodbye shakes things up.
The bottom line
Some close work relationships survive beyond the proximity of a common workspace. Time will tell which will last and which will fade into memory.
I hope that our connections remain and our paths cross again.
To my colleagues at CTi and OPA, may your work life be filled with satisfaction. You have my deepest respect.
- This article originally appeared on the People, Projects and Process site in 2008. [↩]
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We all need someone we can trust.