Career Management


Phase 4, Step 17 - Plan Your Transition

Clear communication to your current employer and future employer is essential for a positive and successful transition.

Planning your transition is all about making sure that you are taking the steps necessary to assure a positive start in your new position, wrapping up loose ends on the old one and keeping your network current. This question is sometimes asked in the interview, ‘If you were offered this job, what would you do during your first few days, weeks, months?” This simple question tells the interviewer a lot about the candidate and how well they will fit into the culture of the organization. The same is true with how people leave their jobs. When you have drafted a plan and started your launch into your new role and feel comfortable, you’re on your way.

Deliverable for GSM1508: Write a Position Plan for your Internship to help set goals, strategies, and tactics (see the Internship syllabus).  

The position plan includes the following elements:
•    Goals: Typically you might have 1-3 over the summer. Smart goals are general guidelines that explain what you want to achieve in your internship/ job. What is the value- add that you are providing. They usually are 3 to 6 month goals and represent global visions. These goals are usually the reason that you were hired. Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented and Timely). For example: “By August 15, I will have completed the final draft of the new training program for X and be ready to present to upper management.”
•    Action Steps: Each goal should be broken down into smaller goals or action steps. The actions steps should be aligned with a timeline, ideally around your required progress reports due every 2 weeks. In the example above, your first action step might be, “Sit down with one key staff member and follow the process that he/she normally goes through and draw this process in Visio by May 20th”. A second action step might be, “Review the Visio drawing with my boss and gather feedback on how this process might be improved by June 1”.
•    Strategy: Draft a strategy for how you plan to achieve your goals and action steps.  For example, “The strategy is to first map what’s already being done by multiple employees and look for best practices. When developing the training, select the most streamlined process to train new employees. After a first draft is complete, share with the people doing the work and with my boss for feedback before finalizing the training for that item…..”
•    Metrics: Ask your manager how they will measure your success in this project. The clearer the metrics are, the easier it will be for you to know when you’ve achieved them. Following the example above, a metric might be ‘money saved’ in projections, it might be X number of Visio documents, it might be a presentation to management of your findings that’s well received.

Questions to ask yourself:
1.    Imagine if you were a hiring manager, how much notice would you want to receive from your staff? Typical is two weeks, but more is always appreciated, especially if you know further ahead.
2.    Do you want to take vacation between your last role and your new role? If so, you might think about asking for the time during your negotiation, not after.
3.    Think about the last person that left your organization or perhaps the last few. How did the transition go? Was there a positive vibe about this person after they left or were people upset that things were left hanging?
4.    Based on what you know about your new role, what things do you need to accomplish during your first year to be considered successful?
5.    What does the organization chart look like? Who are all the key stakeholders in your new role?
6.    In the interview, what did you promise to deliver on? Why do you think you were selected over the other candidates?
7.    How long do you think it will take to get up to speed on the key deliverables of this position?
8.    What steps did you take to transition into your current role that worked well for you? What did not?

Going Deeper:
•    Make sure you meet with your current boss and current stakeholders face-to-face to discuss your transition out.  Ask what you can do to help the transition to the next person.  It seems best to give lots of notice and help with training your replacement if that is possible. You may not have that in your anticipated exit. At the very least, clean out your files and set them up for the next person to easily be able to get up to speed on your old job. Ask each if you can use them as a reference in the future, and if so, would they feel comfortable giving you a positive recommendation.
•    Draft a transition plan before you start your new role. You might even draft it before your second interview and present it to them. Think about the key deliverables in your new role and when the optimal time to complete them would be. Think about your new stakeholders, how many are there and how long will it take to meet with each one to discuss your transition plan and gather their input? Think about the bottom line of the company, what one thing could you do that would contribute to the bottom line within your first month or two on the job? Build your plan by starting with the low hanging fruit that will show early success, yet start slow giving yourself plenty of time to learn the new job.
•    Meet with alumni in the company you are going to enter and ask them what you should do to prepare for your role. Interns – ask last year’s interns.
•    Sit down with your new boss and discuss your transition plan. Make sure that their expectations are clear and that you agree on how your time should be spent during the first few days, weeks, months. Give yourself plenty of time to learn their system before you try to change anything, even if that is what you were hired to do. Ask your boss who the key stakeholders are. You may be surprised that there are people on that list that weren’t on your radar.
•    Check back with your boss after your first week, then after your first month and ask for feedback on your transition. Adjust your plan as necessary.