Manager Offboarding

When a manager tells you that they are leaving the organization, you will usually have two to four weeks to do their offboarding.

You have little time to prepare a plan, communicate it to the team, and do the handoff.

The team also needs to know as quickly as possible. The more time we take, the more shocking the news will be for the team, and the less time the person leaving will have to transfer knowledge to the team.

Retention window

If I try to retain the manager, I rush into doing the retention plan as soon as I learn that the manager is leaving and communicate it on the same day or early the next day.

Communicate the news quickly to the team

If you were not able or willing to retain the manager, then it means that they are leaving. By this time, you should have an idea if there is a candidate for replacing them or not. So now you need to go and talk to the team about what's your plan:

  • Are you assigning another manager?
  • Are you going to lead the transition and hire another person?
  • Is another manager going to stretch out to fill both roles until you hire a replacement?

Communicate the plan to the team no later than 48hs since the manager announced they were leaving.

Don't you have a plan? That's ok! Communicate to the team as well. Tell them there is no plan, but you can figure it out together.Leaving the team in the dark about what's happening will only raise their anxiety.

Disclaimer: Being transparent and vulnerable pays off. But there are certain company cultures where vulnerability might affect your reputation, so take this advice with a grain of salt.

What activities should the manager that's leaving do?

There are different activities that you want the manager that's leaving to work on:

  • Team handover document/sessions: the manager should review the notes from the team since the last performance review and communicate relevant aspects such as the people's career aspirations, what they were working on together, interest in projects, or internal mobilities, and personal situation. If you already have a replacement, it is even better to do a handover session where all this is communicated transparently from the old manager, and the team member can discuss it with the new manager.
  • Team vision: it's good to know what the manager was planning or envisioning for the team. What are his more significant concerns? What are his aspirations? Those things that always got neglected and never found time to do? What's on your mind related to work? What concerns do you have?
  • Tasks that were not part of the leadership role: it is frequent that managers and tech leads take responsibility for activities that only they know how to do. You name it to approve licenses for a 3rd party library, perform that service releases, and quarterly update that document that the sales team uses for demos.

At last, here is a quick template to get you started with a manager offboarding document.

Matias Lespiau

Matias Lespiau

Madrid, Spain