A Checklist for Leaving Well
A Checklist for Leaving Well
As you prepare to transition your job/work to your successor or team, recall that finishing well is job one. How you leave impacts your legacy and reputation at the company, and it impacts how well your successor is set up for success. It’s hard to believe – but none-the-less true – that your influence continues to be measured long after you are gone… in part by how well your successor and team perform after you leave.
So where to start? Begin with the end in mind and carefully consider what values, ideas, institutional and experiential knowledge will be important for your successor and your team … and ensure you model, articulate, and coach those as you prepare to move on to your next season.
Sometimes the circumstances of your departure make this hard, in particular if the transition was initiated by someone other than you. It is therefore important to find a constructive outlet to process your emotions separately from the work of transitioning knowledge. This is critical to a healthy transition for you, for your successor, and for the company. It also affects your legacy.
Some executives find themselves tempted to “un-filter” their language and vent frustrations as they leave, creating awkward circumstances for those trying to be supportive – and inadvertently burning bridges with their largest and most valuable network. Stay positive. Be generous with your time and praise before you leave. Channel your still-important-influence to uplift the people who continue the important work you performed while you were with the company.
Preparing Your Successor and Team Consider the following essentials of leaving well:
✓Ensure you leave the strongest possible team.
✓Create more exposure for colleagues prior to your transition.
✓Fix any problems or people issues, wherever possible, before you leave. Communicate outstanding concerns.
✓Meet with your successor and create a transition plan. Set personal emotions aside and provide help wherever you are able. Decide on timelines and the parameters of any additional support that might beneeded post-departure. Facilitate discussion by sharing questions in advance, such as:
o How can I be most helpful to you as we make this transition?
o Are there things I can be doing more of, less of, or differently to be supportive of you and the team?
o What are the key deliverables and activities for the next 90 days? Who will be accountable for what?
o How can we work most effectively together to ensure a smooth transition?
✓ Consider how to most effectively and thoroughly transfer knowledge: verify that systems, processes, and policies are in place to allow others to continue your work. Schedule important meetings and conversations to promote knowledge transfer and provide opportunities for your team to ask questions.
✓ Give generously of your time and attention:
o Mentor others
o Work 100% until your last day
o Nurture relationships inside and outside of the office
✓ Express gratitude through personal notes and emails. Draft a departure letter and speech, when needed.
In addition to preparing your successor and team for your departure, you’ll want to think ahead about the following personal and practical elements to leaving well:
✓ Investigate health insurance options (your company, the marketplace, and Medicare)
✓ Re-evaluate your financial portfolio with an expert. Consider:
o Real estate transactions
o Company stock price fluctuations
o Age-based recommendations
o Changing tax laws (may require separate consultation with a tax advisor)
o “The unexpected” – changes in health, property that takes extended time to sell, etc.
o Stock options
o Estate planning
✓ Ensure you have a thorough understanding of your benefit package and requirements:
o Non-compete agreement
✓ Plan for needed administrative and technical support:
o Confirm the date on which you will no longer have access to your company email account and other systems. Provide your contacts with an alternative email and contact information well in advance.
o Consider hiring a part-time administrative assistant, IT support person, and/or travel agent
o Research tools and training to get up to speed in key areas: PowerPoint, Word, Excel
o Open a personal email account if needed (Gmail preferred) with a simple, professional name, e.g., [email protected]
✓ Gather important personal information while you are still in your role:
o Professional headshot
o Employment history with dates (from HR)
o Passwords (LinkedIn and other important accounts)
o Audio/video files of important presentations/speeches
Ultimately, the most valuable thing you will take from your organization is your relationships – take time to nurture and enjoy them before, during, and after your transition!