Friday, July 19, 2013

'Last Day In Office'

In 10+ years of my professional life, I haven't had too many experiences with writing "Farewell" emails. Primarily because, if I got into a project, I stayed in that project for a really long time - so long that I had to beg my supervisors to release me. 

So, the first 'farewell email opportunity' that I got was when I (asked and) got released from my first project after 2+ years. But since hardly any of my previous team mates were present at that point of time, I gave it a miss. 

My second 'farewell email opportunity' came when I finished up my first onsite (US) assignment and was heading back home, after a short duration of 7 months. But my interactions during this short stint was limited to a handful of people and hence the farewell went only to that group but each of them said I will be back to US soon, so it didn't really feel like a "farewell" farewell, since I would continue to interact with the same set of people back from offshore.

Sure enough, I was back in US soon, and working with the same team. A year later, it was a deja vu, since I was heading back to India. In that period, I had interacted with quite a few people and when they heard that I was heading back, some of them really missed me. But again, like before, I would be 'still around' and interacting with same team members, and hence not really a farewell. Finally, when this project ended after 5 years, there was only one other guy in the team and it didn't seem worthwhile to write a farewell email. 

So, the 'real-deal's were only twice. Once (last year) when I quit my company after 9+ years and next (last month) when my 1.25 year old assignment ended in my new (current) company. Although the 1.25 year stint seemed small, the project which I was leading had made me interact with over 200 people in the short span since it was a heavy-impact high-risk initiative. So, in these two 'Goodbye' emails, I included all those whom I had come across in my professional life. Both just had a simple subject line of 'Bye' (although I was tempted a lot to say 'So long and thanks for all the fish'!) and a simple statement that my time had come to an end, with details of my coordinates for those who wished to keep in touch.

Responses to the farewell email ranged from formal nonchalant 'Congrats for new role' to real disappointment in seeing me go. It is these 'disappointment-reactions' that touched me most. Their disappointment almost made me disappointed. Some of the reactions, especially the ones where I had to break the news in person was heartwarming. It was as if the solid ground on which they were standing had shook. 

I am not boasting to state that I was like the 90s Tendulkar in the team where the whole country depended on him to deliver, but people's disappointment showed me how much I was valued and how much my work was appreciated. Some of their sentences, I could sense was coming from the very bottom of their heart. They did not polish it to make it better, they let their souls speak, sometimes even grammatically incorrect and some did not even express electronically as a response to my email - just a mere sad shake of their head when they moved past my cubicle was sufficient to let me know how they were feeling about my departure. 

It is then I realized how much I was wanted! I felt happy to have touched so many people's lives, and to have made them happy during my professional interactions with them. In my work and in my simple act of everyday duty, I had made my fellow team members happy. I would be cherished and remembered (even if not for a long time, even if not like The Little Master) by those with whom I had interacted. 

It felt good now to have left my previous company. For if I had continued to stay there, folks here would never have known me. It felt good to be leaving this place now too, for it gives me an opportunity to make more people happy as a result of my future professional interactions. 

I am sure this is the same with everyone. As I heard someone say the other day, everyone goes to office to do a good job. It is just ironic that you don't feel wanted or important until you are moving on. One does not get appreciation every day, and it is somehow reserved for 'The Last Day In Office'! That goes for me too: In that project where I stayed for 5 years, I expressed my deepest appreciations only as a response to the many farewell emails I received during my tenure.

In the same line of thought, as long as you don't keep moving on, you will not feel this importance nor worthiness! It is very much akin to what I had mentioned as a last thought in the previous year's post: it makes you wonder why you have not done this often!!


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