Monday, June 22, 2009

Starting a new gig

A list. A 9 point action list.

I have some friends starting new opportunities soon and it got me thinking about how their company will survive their leaving. It got me thinking about how to gracefully leave an organization and even how to successfully leave a position within an organization. I did a quick search to find some do-s and don’t-s, but it really goes deeper than this. I decided to write this post. I’ll expand more next week, but for now, a list:

  1. Be transparent. Ensure that your boss and your team understand what it takes to do your job.

  1. Record justification. For every project and initiative, there is strong justification for decisions made throughout its development. What are they? Filling in others and recording for future reference will ensure that others understand ‘the why’ of decisions. This will make it easier for the team to support and to carry plans forward when you’re not involved anymore. Your project could be a fundraising strategy with a particular company, a manufacturing process, or a specific product design. Ask me about the life of a thin-wall plastic product I designed and why recording was so important.

  1. Train your team. Consider how well your team does their individual jobs. Conduct formal in-house training that will make them perform even better. You have a lot to share from your years of experience. Not sure where to start? Work with a consultant who can customize and develop training with you.

  1. Define your strategy. It’s probably a good one so why not share it? This will enable your boss and your team to do two things: a. carry it forward in your absence, and b. improve upon it.

  1. Perform a thorough review of your role. Define what you do and what your replacement should expect as their duties. Identify gaps in your position and the organization to help drive improvement after you’ve moved on. This is not a criticizing letter, but a bulleted list.

This organization’s future success can also be yours.

  1. List assets to your position and how they help or hinder you. Do you really need three computers? That blackberry? Better managing database software? You might also have several marketing pieces, prototypes, or other inventory you control. Passing this list on to your team and replacement will help them save money and continue critical customer support.

  1. Develop a schedule for implementation. We all have ongoing projects and it’s likely you’re leaving in the middle of one. Finish what you can and put in the works details that will ‘run’ during your departure. The idea is to allow for seamless transfer to your replacement. This is not the time to let your customer or donor down. Successful transfer can only reflect well on both of you.

  1. Open your books. Reorganize if necessary. You may hold sensitive and critical information for the operation of your company. Ensure this information is gathered in one place, is easy to interpret, as well as easily found. What kind of information you ask? Things like:

    1. current customer lists – contact names, products they buy from you, products they buy from competitors, what they like to order for lunch, how they take their coffee, where they spend their holidays. Information should include special strategies with them and details from your last meetings.
    2. Show budget information including when you spent money, when your group was reimbursed. Provide details on how you plan for your department/company.
    3. If you work for a nonprofit, be sure to include volunteer information (and not just names!), donor schedules, cashflow timing, donor in the works information and the like.
    4. For your projects, clean up your to-do action lists and ensure those responsible understand they get no slack during the leadership transition.

  1. Communicate. Everyone will miss you whether they like you or not. Close the loop gracefully informing all in appropriate positive ways whom their future contact will be. For customers, work hard to introduce personally your new replacement. For suppliers, work hard to introduce your new replacement. For colleagues, work hard to introduce your new replacement. These face to face meetings show a strong level of professionalism and can only bode well for your future and that of your ‘old’ organization.

What would you add to this list if it was your boss leaving?

What would you add to this list if one of your teammates was leaving?

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