business manNot long ago, I was meeting with a VP of sales who is in our management coaching program. He and I were talking about a salesperson who once seemed promising but who was no longer working at the company.

I thought back on when we’d hired that salesperson. He looked like a fantastic fit. He was a seasoned sales professional with lots of experience, solid knowledge of his industry and an extensive expertise in the specific area we were going to have him target. On paper everything looked great! Fast-forward to a year later and it’s clear, looking back, that he wasn’t the guy we thought he was. The salesperson started slow and never really got any type of momentum. The more his superiors evaluated what he was doing, the worse his situation looked. Counseling by his manager had little effect, and soon he was no longer with that company. 

As we talked in our meeting, and considered the former salesperson’s reputation, the manager told me that after the employee left the company, he had IT forward all of the salesperson’s emails to him so he could pick up where the salesperson left off. The manager was perplexed, surprised and somewhat saddened to receive fewer than a dozen emails after the salesperson’s departure.

He told me, “I’m just shocked at how silent (his area) has been since he left. There’s nothing. No calls, no emails—nothing.”

I, too, was disappointed—but not shocked. I told the manager that I’d seen this before in my 20-plus years of coaching, and it wasn’t unusual. In fact, most people stop working about 90 days before they turn in their notice.

I call it “short timer’s disease.”

Once someone decides to leave their job, for whatever reason, they stop working. They know they are not going to stay, so they have very little motivation to make a difference. Like that erstwhile salesperson, they often neglect to follow up with customers, and they certainly aren’t doing any business development.

I have coached several people who decided, for a host of different reasons, to make a job change. I always coach them toward the same strategy: You should work your hardest during the last 90 days of your job.

I know it seems counterintuitive, but in those last 90 days, you’ll either polish or tarnish your reputation. And you’ll need your good reputation moving forward—wherever you go and whatever you do. People remember more about these last 90 days than they do about any previous time. That’s because your actions will be examined once you leave. Trust me on this.

“In the very best situation,” I tell salespeople who are changing jobs, “you close a deal the day you leave. You want people bemoaning the fact that you’re leaving because you’re considered so valuable to the company.”

What you don’t want is for people at the company you’re leaving to be resentful and angry when they see what you’ve not done during your last 90 days.

Because this, ultimately, reflects upon your own reputation, I’m going to look deeper and consider how this ties into the 7 F’s of True Success. I see Faith and the Fundamentals of work and Fusion as part of this discussion. Faith because slacking off is a form of dishonesty. Fundamentals of work because we’re talking about how you do your job. And Fusion because all this is interconnected.

Many of you know I’m Catholic. As a part of my faith, I go to confession regularly. (Today it’s called reconciliation.) As I prepare for reconciliation, one of the questions I ask myself is:  “Have I done a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay?”

Catholic or not, we all should be able to answer that with a resounding “yes!”

Answering yes means we’re doing an honest day’s work and protecting (and even polishing) our reputations.  I suggest relying upon the principles of the 7 F’s of True Success when faced with a difficult situation or a challenge like “short timer’s disease.”

A friend once told me all you really have in your life is your reputation. I totally agree. Keep it intact, and you’ll do what you do better.