You’re Leaving Your Job. How Can You Make Sure Your Team Will Keep Thriving?

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Three strategies to ensure the people you leave behind are set up for success

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One executive I worked with, the head of marketing at a healthcare company, had spent four years helping expand the business, but decided to step away to spend more time with his family. He wanted to ensure his team would continue to thrive well past his tenure there.

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Together, we crafted a three-step strategy to help him leave responsibly. These are steps any departing executive can follow to ensure the next generation is set up for success.

Adopt a decision partner. When you announce you’re leaving, you become a lame duck, even if your end date is a few months away. That means your decisions are suddenly less likely to stick or even be taken seriously. To counter that, recruit someone else—say, your manager, your possible replacement or a direct report—to stand by your side and help communicate key decisions during the transition. Depending on a meeting’s topic, my client would bring along his manager or one of his direct reports. A decision partner will maintain accountability for the choices made, ensure continuity of action after you leave and reassure everyone that whatever decisions are being made are in the long-term interest of the organization.

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Let your team sail solo. Your team needs to learn not only how to survive but thrive without you. In today’s job market, identifying your successor might take a while, especially if you are in a senior role. With that in mind, take your hand off the tiller sooner, rather than later, so the team has a chance to gain the skills they need to sail solo. Bring direct reports to meetings with senior executives. At your next staff meeting, ask the team to curate agenda items and run the session, while you provide feedback from the sidelines. Handing the reins over early enables you to identify the patterns of interaction and the gaps in performance. Coaching your team instead of telling them what to do, or worse, doing the work yourself, will help foster their independence and interdependence on each other.

Become an advocate. Managers invest heavily in recruiting and developing team members. But your departure marks a pivotal point for further investment in the team. As you detach yourself from day-to-day operations, offer to mentor your peers and direct reports. My client asked his team these questions: “How do you see your role changing with my transition?” “How satisfied are you with where you are in your career and where are you headed?” “What would be helpful for you to know about my experience and the lessons I’ve learned?” Use their responses to advocate with management on their behalf and to help strengthen the team’s resolve to weather the transition. As the company grapples to cover your job responsibilities, they likely will discover an eager set of hands in a peer or direct report who wants greater visibility.

Write to Ms. Nawaz at [email protected]

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Credit: www.wsj.com /

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