January 14, 2020

701 words 4 mins read

How to successfully change roles

How to successfully change roles

If you are at a point in your career where you want to make a change (new role/team/company/etc.), you need to take some steps to prepare your team and your replacement for success.

Side note: I am assuming you don't want to burn any bridges. If that is your goal, this post isn't for you.

If you move within the company and neglect to make the transition easy, you will likely be asked to cover your old role and will have a hard time succeeding in your new role.

If you leave the company, you could hurt your future prospects. If you want to get back into the company, it will be hard because there will probably be people around that still have a bad taste in their mouth from your messy departure. If you apply with a new company, you never know who the hiring manager is or who they know. Most people have connections in similar roles in different companies and are connected on LinkedIn.

Be smart, avoid getting blacklisted for a lack of planning.

Step 1: Inventory Everything You Do

Write down everything that you currently do. Everything. Your role has certain tasks that are expected of you, so start with those. For example, in my last role I was a Software Development Manager so I had the standard tasks of running 1:1's, working with HR for hiring/onboarding, doing performance reviews, unblocking my team, product planning, etc. all are pretty easy to identify and write down.

You probably do things in your role that you don't even think about. Fixing something that is broken, making a connection between people or groups, escalating tickets, maintaining and old project so your team doesn't have to, or whatever. Every time you do something, add it to a list so you can make a solid transition plan. When in doubt, write it down.

Step 2: Document Everything That You Do

The easiest way to transition something to another person or team is to have high quality documentation. You could try to talk them through it, but information isn't absorbed quickly and this puts the transition in jeopardy. If you can hand over documentation that makes it easy for them to complete the work, you will be a hero.

Step 3: Identify Tasks That Should Be Delegated

There are tasks that you are doing that would be better suited to be done by somebody else or another team. Look at your list and identify items that should be transitioned and connect with that person or team to work out a transition plan. Use the documentation you created in Step 2 to aid in this process.

Step 4: Automate/Streamline as Much as Possible

With the work that you are responsible for, see if there is anything that you can automate to take some load off you or your successor. This could be scheduling reports that get generated and emailing them, setting reminders for recurring tasks (time sheets!), running processes that you have run manually, etc. Your mileage will vary based on the type of work you do.

Step 5: Identify a successor if possible

If there is someone that reports to you or works with you that would be a good fit, talk to them to see if they would be interested in your role. This could be a delicate discussion if you don't want to make your intentions public, but there are ways to gauge interest. If you can find someone, start teaching them how to do the things that you do. Use the documentation you created to help with this and perhaps delegate some of your work to them to help make the case for them to get the role. Start working with them to identify gaps in their skills so they can start improving in those areas so they can be successful upon taking the role.

Final Thoughts

Now that I write this list out, this is something everyone should do anyway. Taking these steps

  • Enables you to change positions anytime the opportunity is right
  • Allows you to scale your role to take on more responsibility
  • Sets you up for success within the organization

Have any tips? Tweet me at @lukerogers