Saturday, June 11, 2016

Planning a Job Transition

Most job transitions result in a great deal of knowledge loss. Some of it may be inevitable. However, that knowledge loss can be mitigated by having the successor identified early and planning for some job overlap with the person leaving. This is often not possible because either the successor cannot be identified early and/or funding the overlap time is challenging. In most cases of job transition that I have recently witnessed, the person leaves and even when he/she is replaced swiftly, there is no handover.

One notable exception to mention: A colleague, knowing that she would not be able to meet her replacement, spent some time creating onboarding videos for her successor, using simple video tools resulting in instructions based on narrated screencaptures. This was invaluable to the successors who would otherwise have struggled for weeks to understand how things were done and where the relevant documents were to be found. This seemed to be more powerful than any written down instructions. My own instinct would have been to create written instructions with screen captures. A document can be scanned faster to get to what you need, but a collection of short videos can do the job as well.

What if you had 12 months to transfer what you know about your job to your successor? I know what you're thinking: No way. This doesn't happen. This scenario is highly unlikely. Obviously, this assumes that you would know a year before your departure exactly who is going to be your successor.. which by itself is an unlikely situation.. AND YET, that is exactly the situation I am facing today:

  • More than 12 months before my departure;
  • A known successor internal to the company;
  • An employer and a customer who both know about my departure and who support the transition.

It was up to me to set this up, and I'm glad I did in spite of some of the risks involved. It is now up to me to make it work. I have now two interesting challenges to address:
1. How to prepare for the next stage of my career (full time consulting on my own).
2. How to prepare my successor so that she can successfully take over my current job.

The initial analysis is very similar in both cases.

  • What are my current skills, experiences, expertise? How will they transfer to consulting?
  • What are some of the skills and knowledge gaps I can identify now and address in the coming year?
  •  What are my successor's current skills, experiences, expertise? How will they transfer over when she takes over my job? Obviously she has been selected as my possible replacement because she is perceived to be a good match for the position to begin with.
  • What are some of her skills and knowledge gaps and how can I help address these in the coming year?

We're not going to have a full year of overlap, but we're already set to have lunch conversations once a week.

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