Pass the Baton Professionally in Business and at Work


A nonprofit near and dear to my heart is having a few hiccups – a key staff member left to pursue another career path, and a new, equally talented person was hired to replace them. Unfortunately, there was very little knowledge transfer / communication from the departing employee to the new employee – written, verbal or otherwise. As a result, a few stitches have dropped and a few clients are irritated. It’s certainly not a tragedy – however, some time, energy and productivity have been wasted, an unnecessary distraction adding a bit more white-noise / flak to the usual change-management flak that ensues when staff changes occur.

Generally speaking (and particularly in a market like SmAlbany), it pays on a number of levels to pass the baton professionally when a key person departs and a replacement steps in:

  • During your resignation notice period, whip up a cookbook of standard operating procedures / standard work / checklists / job aids to help ensure the success of the organization and your successor;
  • Once your cookbook is complete, brief your manager, your direct reports, and ideally, your successor, if there’s time to allow for even a week of working together before you take your next position;
  • Ensure that your soon-to-be former stakeholders have your contact information, in the event that they have a quick question to ask you – plan to be available for at least 60 – 90 days.

Why, you may ask?  The goal is not merely to leave on pleasant terms; the goal is also to ensure the success of your soon-to-be former team, which in turn will ensure the continued success of your professional reputation. Not to mention your karma.

And leaders / supervisors please take note: if your departing employee does not know the art of successful transition / professional baton-passing, this is a great opportunity to reinforce professional development standards for all. And perhaps think about developing cookbooks for cross-training and business continuity purposes, so that the departure of one key staffer is seamless and transparent, rather than disruptive.

How will you pass the baton professionally when off-boarding and on-boarding top talent to support the success of all stakeholders, in business and at work?

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