Organizational shifts are a common occurrence affecting the dynamics of a business but that doesn't make them any less challenging.
Navigating these transitions isn't for the faint hearted as they require protocol and responsibilities that often lead to productivity drops if not properly managed.
When the time comes for an employee to leave an organization or transition into a different role, you must be ready with a transition plan that ensures smooth functioning during the change period.
The best transition plans outline the steps to streamline employee transition periods without hampering the daily output of the business. But how do you make one for your business?
That's where this article comes into the picture.
What is a transition plan?
A transition plan outlines all the processes and activities involved in shifts within an organization from an incumbent to a successor. It lists the various tasks and details a manager needs to attend to when an employee is transitioning out of a role or leaving the company outrightly.
A transition plan is mostly implemented when an employee resigns or transitions out of their role. However, it can also be used for a project transition, developing new employees or a business owner changing into a buyer.
Why is a transition plan important?
A transition plan helps organizations to ensure there's a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the continuity of a position's responsibilities in the event of a transition or a vacancy, either planned or unplanned. It also:
- puts together all the goals, strategies and priorities in one place for a successful shift.
- ensures that all tasks and duties are documented for a smooth transition and that nothing slips through the cracks.
- alleviates the potential risk of jeopardizing business relationships if the position plays a crucial role in handling customers or vendors.
- ensures a plan is in place before an emergency arises.
- serves as an operational manual template to train the designated backup or successor.
- minimizes risk to programs, projects and staff proactively.
The 5 key elements of an effective transition plan
A transition plan serves as a blueprint for the necessary details of duties and responsibilities a manager needs to know before someone leaves. Usually, there are many tasks a manager covers during an employee transition, such as what duties will be reorganized upon transition and how they can help prepare the successor. So a transition plan typically includes the following:
1. Duties & responsibilities
Duties and responsibilities should outline the main tasks that need to be taken care of so the workflow experiences as few interruptions as possible.
The duties are adequately detailed, from the little things like running a daily backup to the more complex stuff like preparing an annual report. They also include any recurring duties such as managing monthly check-ins with a consultant or updating the dashboard for the board of directors every quarter.
It's critical to sort and categorize the responsibilities according to their priorities, expected effort and timeframe. It also helps you link relevant documentation and related projects to provide sufficient context for any needed information.
2. Outstanding projects
This section documents the list of ongoing projects, including the ones the employee will complete before leaving and how much time it will take.
We recommend having a separate section for each project with its description, timelines, suggested list of project owners, next steps and instructions for accessing relevant files.
The transitioning employee can also leave a comment on instructions to make the task easier for the successor and ensure that all projects go off without a hitch after the transition.
3. Upcoming deadlines
This section differs from the project as it deals with stand-alone deadlines like a quarterly deadline to file forms with the state government or regular tasks like responding to a particular vendor or customer.
The due date and manner of the deadlines are also listed in the transition plan.
4. Key contacts
Your coworkers or successor should have a list of contacts they must be in constant touch to execute duties and take over outstanding projects smoothly.
This list tells them who to reach out to when they first come on board, when and why. It also includes email and login information to important accounts and resources. All this ensures a smoother flow of things, making it easier for the successor to maneuver parts of their job.
5. List of resources
The list of resources are essential resources that are not directly linked to any ongoing projects, such as a particular purchase using the company's card or a toner cartridge for the copy machine. It usually includes the quantity and collection frequency so that there's no interruption to the collection and distribution when the employee leaves.
How to manage a handover & who should be involved
Part of your employee offboarding program should include a plan to manage the handover and tie up all loose ends for a successful transition. Here's how you can do that:
1. Create a handover document
Having an organizer or a handover document is the first step to managing an employee handover.
Since you have various duties to cover during the transition period, a handover document helps you outline them efficiently in a clear format. It also allows you to keep all the details of an employee's transition in a handy document where you have information like the incumbent, successor, new role start date, supervisor and so on.
2. Get the transitioning employee involved
It's crucial to collaborate with the employee who's leaving the role when designing your transition plan. The transitioning employee can help you prepare well-organized handover documents and other additional work for a smooth handover to the successor. Not only is this an effective plan to ease the overall shift, but it also encourages you to remain respectful during the transition period.
If the departing employee doesn't have the time to prepare hefty how-to guides, have another employee shadow them to learn as much as possible about the job. Or hold a meeting where the transitioning employee shares stories on how they handled issues and crises during their stay at the organization. The goal is to get relevant insights into the transitioning employee's thought process.
3. Determine who should be informed about the transition
There are persons in the organization who should receive notification of the transition. It could be other employees, coworkers, the leadership team or external/internal customers. These are people whom the employee's transition will directly impact.
Always apply a need-to-know approach to protect the employee's privacy. Decide what information is necessary for other staff to know. If it won't affect them directly, then there's no use notifying them personally of an employee's transition.
Confidentiality is a primary concern when managing a handover process. So discuss with the transitioning employee how they would like their team and clients to be informed—individually, in a team meeting, in written communication from the employee and manager, etc.
4. Identify a successor
A critical task you should consider is figuring out who will take over the role of the transitioning employee. Include information on the new candidate's search and interview process in your plan. You can also involve the transitioning employee in the selection and training of the successor to streamline the transition.
A practical knowledge transfer will minimize future issues and the time spent on fixing them. In addition, identifying a replacement before the employee leaves would be ideal. This way, both employees can overlap and the new employee will learn the tricks of the trade that the existing training module will not explain.
5. Develop a change management plan
If you can't replace the employee immediately, you will need a temporary work plan to ensure business goes on as usual.
A change management plan can help with the process of restructuring your team and redistributing work. Get the transitioning employee to document their daily tasks. Review and evaluate the work, then assign tasks that can't be ignored to other staff in the team.
6. Create time for analysis & feedback
Before an employee transitions out of a role, setting up a time for feedback and exit interviews is important. Collecting this data can give you insights into how to improve your company processes and the overall employee experience, including how you can help the replacement transition into the new role.
Plus, since the employee is leaving, you're more likely to get honest feedback. So your handover plan can have specific days, times and conventions for just feedback opportunities.
7. Get a process documentation tool
As they say, why complicate simple things?
You can use a process documentation tool to document all the steps and details of your transition process faster and without extra hassle. Additionally, as most of these tools are cloud-based, you can make any changes as desired to your digital document without having to start from scratch.
One of the best process documentation tools in the market, Scribe makes this even more streamlined and intuitive. You can use it to onboard the person taking over, familiarize them with the workflows and tech and offer general supporting guidelines.
How does Scribe make this possible?
Once you're done installing the free plugin, all you have to do is turn on the recorder and go through your process. Scribe will then automatically generate a visual guide within seconds. But, in terms of making an elaborate transition plan, you can use Scribe Pages to combine, organize and share multiple Scribes, along with other relevant text.
Here is a Scribe showing how to use this cool feature prepared in 53 seconds flat:
8. Help the employee leave on a positive note
Employee transitions can be challenging. Hence, it's essential to have some protocol to help the employee remain positive and professional. Offer ongoing support to assist through any bumps they may encounter throughout the transitioning process.
Plan a get-together for other employees to share their appreciation and say their goodbyes to the transitioning employee. This gesture leaves a positive imprint on the employee and bonds them to your organization.
Transition plan outline & template
A simple outline of a transition plan should include core responsibilities, outstanding projects, cross-functional partners, priorities and timelines and personnel responsible for each deliverable after the transition.
Here's an example of what a handover document template for an employee looks like:
👉 Duplicate and use the template here.
Transition plan template
A transition plan template is a preformatted document that facilitates the process of organizational shift within your team or organization. It offers a guideline for designing a transition plan that ensures a smooth transfer at the employee or management level.
A transition plan template does more than organize information. It helps you keep things moving by giving you a standardized blueprint for transitions and outlines what steps employees need to take before they leave.
Here is what a good transition plan template should include:
- List view grid-style: To make it easy to see all the information at once, like a to-do list or a spreadsheet
- Custom fields: to indicate and track the status of tasks, making it easy to know which ones to work on first
- Subtasks: to distribute and split work into individual components. It's also useful where a task has more than one contributor.
Transition plan in summary
A transition plan is necessary to ensure the continuity of your business processes when an employee leaves. It indicates the tasks, including duties and responsibilities of a transitioning employee, to give room for the smooth running of business operations. As you create your transition plan, remember that it's a comprehensive process with the aim of immediate implementation and not to be filed away for occasional review.