A Happy Ending
Wrapping Up Your Current Role Before Moving On
Get ready to pass the baton.
It's finally happened. After months of hard
work, and numerous interviews, you finally got the job you've
always dreamed of. In just a few short weeks, you'll change
departments, – or even companies – and take on a new role, with a
new team and new responsibilities. Congratulations!
There's a lot to think about when you change
jobs – whether it's because of a promotion, or a department
change, or a move to a new organization. It's an exciting time,
but what can you do to make the transition go smoothly for you,
and easier on the people you leave behind?
Well, most importantly, you'll need to bring
the work in your current job to an ordered close. To help you pass
the baton onto the person who's taking over from you, you'll need
to bring projects up to date as far as you can, or leave a list
for your replacement, where you outline the tasks you've
completed, and what remains unfinished.
If you're a manager, and one of your team
members is leaving, you'll have your own set of challenges. At the
forefront of your mind will be how you can make sure the person
completes his or her projects before moving on.
In this article, we discuss why it's so
important to 'close' your job before you make a transition – and
how to make sure you don't leave your boss, your team, or your
replacement with any loose ends.
Part 1: Closing
Depending on your company and your situation,
you may have as little as one week, or as much as a month or more,
to prepare for your move. Aim to do as much as you can in the time
you have. Making sure things are in good order will help your team
members adjust to the change.
It will also help you leave on good terms. It's important to
remember that, if you're changing departments, you may eventually
work with your former team members again. Someone who's your
junior now could be your boss or your client in 10 years' time, so
it's preferable for everyone all round to maintain good relations.
What should you do before you leave? Here's a list of actions for
your 'to do' list:
- Bring your projects up to date – You can't always complete every
project before making a transition, but if you finish as much as
you can, this will make life easier on the person who takes your
- Prepare a report for your replacement – Detail what this person
needs to know: future projects, who your clients are (and their
contact information), tasks you recently completed, and how you
did them – and anything else that's important.
- Give 'insider' tips – Think about what you know now that you
didn't know when you started this position. For example, if you're
in charge of ordering supplies, it might have taken you months, or
years, to figure out which vendors give the best deals. Or there
may be an administrative procedure that saves you time. Why not
leave this insider information for your replacement? It will only
make the transition easier.
- Take a copy with you – When you move departments, take with you to the new job an electronic copy of all the documents you prepare for the old job, containing details of where the files are, and the status of ongoing projects, etc. If your successor hasn't started by the time you leave, or if the new person loses the background material you left behind, you'll be able to help quickly, with a minimum of annoyance to you, when they track you down to ask about files and project status.
- Help train your replacement – If you have the opportunity, this
will ease the stress on both your boss and the person taking over
from you. If your replacement hasn't yet been chosen, consider
briefing another team member who may temporarily take your
- Contact key business associates – Let clients, vendors, and
other key people know when your last day is, and whom they should
contact after you've gone. Then they won't be confused or
frustrated if they try to reach you, and weren't told of the
- Plan for your new role – While you're tying up all the loose
ends in your current job, it's also important to learn as much as
possible before you take on your new role. The first 90 days are
crucial for making an impact in a new job, so it helps to be
equipped, knowledgeable, and focused on your first day. Our
workbook Congratulations on Your New Role… Now What? will help
give you a head start.
Part 2: Saying Goodbye
When you think about it, most people spend more time at work than
they do at home. This means that your co-workers are also often
your friends. Maybe, in some cases, you even think of them as
Even if you're not close to your team, you spend your days with
these people, so saying goodbye can be difficult. You don't want
to say something you might regret later.
So, how do you say goodbye with grace and tact?
- Don't brag – Don't boast about your new position, say how happy
you are to 'get out of here,' or talk about your higher salary.
This is likely to leave a bad impression with your co-workers.
Remember, they're the ones staying behind. Be considerate.
- Say 'thank you' – If there are people who helped you at work,
thank them. Be specific – if you couldn't have completed a project
without someone's expertise, tell that person.
- Send 'thank you' cards – This is a way to thank team members who
really made an impact on your life, either personally or
professionally. Again, be specific when you tell them how they
made a difference.
- Don't say bad things – Don't say negative things about anyone.
Remember, just because you're changing departments or companies
doesn't mean you'll never work with these people again. You may
run into the same people time and again in different companies and
different roles, especially if you stay in the same industry for
most of your working life. Leave a good impression, and don't make
any enemies on your way out.
Part 3: Managing Leavers
As we said earlier, if you manage someone who's about to make a
transition, you have to deal with your own set of challenges. This
person might be dreaming of the new job, and not concentrating on
current tasks – but your team still has to get the work done.
Make sure this person completes his or her tasks before leaving.
It's very hard to push replacements into a half-finished project,
and expect them to meet deadlines and goals.
What steps can you take to make sure that things are getting done?
- Check in regularly – Giving the person in transition a deadline
may not be enough. Remember, the departing person has a lot to do.
Check in every day, or every few days, to see how the projects are
- Ask for a 'to do' list – If there's time, ask the person to
write a list of important tasks to give to the replacement. What
will the new person need to prioritize and focus on during the
first week? The first month?
- Don't assign new work – Don't give a lot of new projects to
someone who's leaving. Think of how stressed you would feel if you
were changing jobs, and your manager did that to you. If possible,
let the person finish current work, and redirect new projects to
other team members.
- Gather the team for a farewell – If it's appropriate, get
everyone together on the departing person's last day to say a few
words, and thank the person for his or her hard work and
accomplishments. If you don't know the person well, have another
team member who does know the person stand up and say farewell.
You might also give the departing team member a card or small
gift. This can leave a positive lasting impression.
Job transitions can be stressful. However, by taking the time to
prepare for closure, you can reduce the impact on both you and
your team. Be considerate, and leave a good impression. Remember,
you never know when you might work with your former team members
again, so don't brag or complain on your way out.
If you manage someone who's leaving, remember that this person has
a lot to do. Yes, he or she needs to complete projects, but be
reasonable, and offer to help where you can. Help prioritize the
remaining tasks, so the new person starts with a clear focus.
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