A big part of leaving your job on good terms is smoothly transitioning projects and responsibilities. You can set your successors up for success by creating a transition plan and sharing it with a supervisor before your final day at the office.
A transition plan lays out your regular duties and responsibilities, current projects, upcoming deadlines, and key contacts. Let’s start with a closer look at each component.
Regular duties and responsibilities
In this section, you'll want to focus on the main responsibilities that need to be taken care of in order for the work you do to experience as little interruption as possible. One way to identify those duties is to ask yourself, “If no one did X, what would happen?” If the answer is that other projects or processes would get stuck, then include this responsibility in your plan.
Also be sure to note any recurring duties, such as managing the monthly check-ins with a consultant or updating the dashboard for the board of directors every quarter.
While it may be tempting to assign your duties to other colleagues in this part of your transition plan, that decision belongs to your boss. However, you can help inform her decision by noting which colleagues have been assisting you with certain responsibilities and are already familiar with those areas of your work.
Outstanding projects on your plate
Are you in the middle of rewriting the volunteer manual or updating the donor database? Maybe you’re planning a webinar series, or you’re in the early stages of planning a rally at the state capitol with allied organizations. While organizing your plan, be sure to describe where things stand with in-progress items, lay out the next steps, and provide instructions for accessing any relevant files.
You can also note which projects you’re willing to commit to completing before you leave and how much time you expect it will take you to finish those projects. This information can help your boss decide if that’s the best use of your time or if she wants you to focus on something else during your final days on the job.
If you have a major project that you’re in charge of, such as a big event that’s happening after you leave, you may want to make a separate plan that someone can follow step by step to ensure the project goes off without a hitch.
Major, upcoming deadlines
While you'll want to note upcoming deadlines associated with your projects in the previous section, there may also be stand-alone deadlines that you want to include in your plan. For example, there may be a deadline coming up for your organization to decide who to send to an annual conference or a quarterly deadline to file forms with the state government.
Those stand-alone deadlines can go in this section. List the due date and the manner of the deadline (e.g., someone needs to fill out a form or send an email to a specific person).
Similar to the duties and responsibilities section, your contacts section should focus on the most important contacts, not everyone in your address book. Ask yourself: “Who will people need to be in touch with to execute the duties and take over the projects I’ve described in this transition plan?”
Your key contacts section should list people at your organization as well as external people. A list of key internal contacts can be a great “cheat sheet” for your successor (if your position is being filled)—that way they know who to reach out to in the office when they first come on board.
Now for your template.
Transition plan template
Dear [NAME OF SUPERVISOR],
As we discussed, my last day in [CURRENT TITLE] will be [DATE]. This transition plan lays out my regular duties and responsibilities, outstanding projects, upcoming deadlines, and key contacts.
This document is saved in [LINK TO FILE PATH], and I will leave a few hard copies on my desk on my last day.
Regular duties and responsibilities [INCLUDE WHICHEVER CATEGORIES ARE RELEVANT FOR YOUR WORK]
- EXAMPLE: Represent our department in organization-wide meetings about data management
- EXAMPLE: Circulate relevant media clips every morning to the Clips email list - see instructions for compiling clips digest saved here [LINK TO FILE PATH]
- EXAMPLE: Prepare and circulate agenda for departmental staff meeting - past agendas are saved here for reference [LINK TO FILE PATH]
- EXAMPLE: Pull report from our donor database showing total donations for that month and number of new donors - report is saved in database as [NAME OF REPORT] and can be easily run by adjusting the date parameter [MAY NEED TO LEAVE ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR DATABASE WORK]
- EXAMPLE: File quarterly lobbying report with [STATE OFFICE] - see instructions at [LINK] and past reports saved here [LINK TO FILE PATH]
- EXAMPLE: Prepare budget for our department and represent the department in organization-wide budget meetings
- [NAME OF PROJECT]
- [BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT AND YOUR ROLE]
- [STATUS OF PROJECT]
- [NAMES OF COLLEAGUES INVOLVED]
- [RELEVANT DEADLINES]
- [LINKS TO RELEVANT FILES]
- Creating new volunteer manual: As part of our department’s goal to simplify and streamline our volunteer onboarding process, I have been working on a new volunteer manual that integrates content from our previous materials. After doing an audit of current materials [INSERT FILE PATH TO THIS DOCUMENT] and deciding which ones are still relevant or could be eliminated, I began creating the new volunteer manual saved here [INSERT FILE PATH].
- Status of project: I’m about halfway done with the new volunteer manual.
- Colleagues who have been involved: Jane approved my outline of the manual. John helped write the section on logging volunteer hours because of his familiarity with the system.
- Relevant deadlines: We set an internal goal of having the manual ready by the start of the next fiscal year.
- Relevant files: See links above.
- [DATE]: [ONE-SENTENCE DESCRIPTION OF DEADLINE], [INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO MEET THE DEADLINE]
- September 15: Registration deadline for [EXTERNAL ORGANIZATION NAME]’s annual conference, which I have typically attended. Conference details available here [INSERT LINK].
- [NAME], [TITLE], [ORGANIZATION]
- [EMAIL], [PHONE NUMBER]
- [BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF YOUR COLLABORATIVE WORK]
- John Smith, Account Executive, Smith Designs
- firstname.lastname@example.org, 555-123-4567
- Smith Designs is the graphic design company that lays out our annual report. We typically contact them in September to set up the timeline for laying out the report.
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As a nonprofit advocacy professional living in Washington, D.C., Deborah works with groups across the country to educate their communities and lawmakers about public policies that can help low-income residents make ends meet. She is passionate about helping people connect their interests to a cause they believe in and empowering them to take action.