4 Ways Intentional Offboarding Can Help Your Onboarding Process

At the day job, I’m currently navigating the resignation of a high-performing, well-liked team member. While we playfully give her a hard time about it, it’s all on good terms – you know, one of those “life happens” kinds of transitions that occasionally takes an employee away from your team and organization.

As the manager of the team, this transition has thrust me into an interesting headspace, where one minute I’m at my desk, whining to myself, “Now what??” – the next minute, I’m excited to watch the next step of her career journey unfold – followed quickly by an indignant, “How could she possibly leave us?!” while shaking my fist in the air.

(If you’re reading this, Laura, hopefully you know I’m (mostly) kidding!)

**refer to the line above, “we playfully give her a hard time about it.”**

This also puts me neck-deep into read-through-dozens-of-resumes-in-preparation-for-upcoming-interviews mode. While I’m considering options for who might become our newest Talent Development Specialist, it’s also important that I stay focused on the important job of offboarding. After all, there are other Talent Development Specialists on the team who will be taking on additional tasks until we welcome a new team member – and even then, there are numerous factors that will affect how we re-distribute projects and responsibilities within the team.

I wrote this post awhile back on the topic, but it bears repeating. Managers, this one’s for you:

Intentional OFFboarding is imperative for successful ONboarding and team transition.

Here are 4 elements to incorporate into your offboarding strategy:

  1. Tie up loose ends: Are there any projects the exiting employee is in the middle of? Work with the employee and any key stakeholders to understand the project status:
    • What is the current status of the project?
    • Will the employee be able to complete the project before his/her last day?
    • If not, what tasks/steps will need to be taken over by someone else?
    • Will the transition affect the targeted completion date or deadline?
  2. Transition daily responsibilities, tasks and subject matter expertise: Is this person your go-to for a particular system or process? Is s/he your primary facilitator for a certain training program? If so, it’s important to harness that legacy knowledge before it walks out the door!
    • Assess your existing team knowledge, experience and bandwidth – can someone else be trained to take over (at least temporarily)?
    • Is there a scheduled class on the calendar? If so, and if there is no one who can immediately take over the content, consider rescheduling or cancelling, and notify anyone who might be enrolled.
    • Ask the exiting employee to document his/her own processes, procedures, checklists, facilitator guides and planning notes (that don’t already exist). Creating templates and helpful resources that another employee can use to reduce the learning curve will help ensure that tasks are completed and that no important details are overlooked.
  3. Provide – and ask for – feedback: Rarely does an HR-driven exit interview capture all of the role and team-specific information that would be helpful for a manager to know when working through the transition. Asking solid, open-ended questions like these can help you simplify processes and potentially prevent confusion and issues with your incoming employee:
    • What was the easiest part of working on this team?
    • What was the most challenging part of working on this team?
    • What about your role made you jump out of bed in the morning?
    • What about your role made you want to hit the snooze button in the morning?
    • As your manager, what could I have done better to help you perform your job well?
    • What do you wish you knew when you started your role that you know now?
    • What advice would you give our new Talent Development Specialist when s/he joins the team?
    • Is there anything I can do to help you through this transition?
  4. Show respect: Whether your employee is leaving on positive or negative terms, it’s important to extend grace and respect to your team member, and allow them to exit with dignity. After all, this can affect both your reputation as a leader and the reputation of your organization (Glassdoor reviews are a real thing!). Besides, if your employee has been a productive, valuable member of the team (or even if they haven’t, honestly), why wouldn’t you want to provide guidance and support as you prepare for their last day?

All of these factors will help ensure a smooth transition….for your exiting employee, your remaining team members, the new employee who will soon join your team, and yourself as the leader held accountable for the team’s performance.

Your turn: Managers, how do you prepare for an employee’s exit? What has been your experience (good or bad!) when leaving an organization?

Share a comment so we can learn from your experience!

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