There’s so much content out there about leading your team, but what about when you leave your team? I had been the leader of the Specialist team for over 5 years when I was asked by my leadership to run another team. We had been having trouble filling that particular role and I felt that this was a great opportunity to step into and learn another part of the department, so I gladly accepted the new role 2 months ago. I was given a 3-week lead time till the actual start of my new position, so I used that time to facilitate the transition.
The first priority was to work with management to find my replacement. This was an easy task because I had one peer who would fill in for me whenever I was on vacation and also worked as my interim while I was on assignment for another project. They were also a former Specialist themselves and knew the role and procedures.
The next step was to communicate the organizational changes to the team. We met at our regularly scheduled team meeting, and this was the only topic on the agenda. I first spoke about where I was going, who would lead them, and the timeline for the changes. The rest of the meeting I answered questions, addressed concerns, and created a list of tasks and items that they requested I complete before I left. I ended the meeting by assuring them that not much would change because all the successes we have been enjoying for 5 years were due to the hard work and culture they had built.
My final two weeks in the role were spent completing administrative tasks and working with my successor for their success path. We also agreed upon my level of involvement with the team after I leave; that I would be accessible to only him for questions and any questions to me from the team would be re-directed back to their new leader. My intention was to solidify their leadership and also give me the time to focus on my new role. With my successor by my side, I also conducted the last coaching meetings with each individual on the team, so that everyone was on the same page for their performance opportunities and development plans.
All in all, the transition went through perfectly and the team and my successor continued their high performance. This was all made possible mostly through the team’s ability to adjust and hold themselves accountable, and a little bit from my focus on the future. Nothing ever lasts forever, and I knew that one day I would not be the leader of the Specialist team. It was my responsibility to prepare them for that, and I did that through setting up processes and procedures that guided the team, empowering them to hold each other and myself accountable, and teaching them to control their attitude and effort. It takes consistent quality effort by a leader to get their team to high performance, and empathy and understanding to help keep them there.
When you leave your team, and inevitably you will, is your team ready for that? If they are, great job, continue to prepare them. If they aren’t, let’s get moving, because the path to a successful transition is laid well in advance…and your team deserves it.