When I was getting ready to join my first startup, I dreaded having to tell my old boss that I was leaving. I was leading a large project, and I didn’t want to burn any bridges. Before I approached my boss, I outlined a plan for my final two weeks. She was disappointed by my resignation, but gratefully surprised by the transition plan.
Losing a knowledgeable employee doesn’t have to drain the long-term expertise and capabilities of your business. How do you preserve that deep knowledge before a key employee leaves? Here are four departure processes that make the two-week transition easier.
Ask your departing employee to list:
- Projects or functions that he or she is currently managing
- Activities that must be performed daily, weekly and monthly in the next 60 days
- Essential documents, email threads or contacts for each of the projects, functions or activities
Before assigning these activities to specific employees, review the list with them and ask, “What projects or activities are you interested in learning?” Provide access to the relevant files and schedule time for the employee to learn from your departing team member.
Develop a Departure Checklist
Include both information and access that your employee has, such as:
- Files for projects, key relationships or functional responsibilities stored on the employee’s computer hard drive
- Email archives, both sent and received
- Calendar of meetings and activities, both internal and external, for the next 60 days
- Physical files or meeting notes
- Shared drive files
- Software log-ins and passwords for company-sensitive information, such as videoconferencing, CRM, financials, web content management software or social media accounts
- Authorizations for business accounts, as well as checkbooks or credit cards
- Business organization or professional association memberships paid for by the business
- Company equipment or location access
Schedule time to review the status of the checklist with your employee on a daily basis, and ensure that files and access are transferred.
Ask your employee to list all of the supplier, key account, customer and other significant relationships that he or she manages. Then draft an email or conversation script for these contacts, informing them of your employee’s departure and introducing their new key contact in your business. Ensure that both your departing employee and the new contact participate in the conversations or are copied on the emails. Transfer access to past communications to the new key contact.
Stay in Touch
This kind of post-departure access is one of the greatest benefits of keeping the notice period productive and cordial. Bundle questions from your team into an email, or arrange for a periodic call with your former employee.
I’m still in touch with my former boss, and her good-luck note is still on my desk. That two-week plan made the departure easier for both of us. Not everyone in your business is replaceable, but their business knowledge is an asset you can retain.