12 things to do when you leave your job for the next person

As I’ve written about already, I’m heading to Central Asia for about 6 months soon, and my last day of work is today (egads!). I’m currently doing some cross training, and though I’m not perfect, I’m striving to get the following things done before I go to ensure as smooth a tradition as possible.

There’s nothing worse than the only times your name comes up after you leave being in phrases that involve frustration and expletives.

Written documents:

  1. Next 30 days: A list of things that will need to get done in the next 30 days.
  2. Project status: A documents with ongoing projects and their current statuses. I use my email and file folders to create a structure.
  3. Key contacts: Key contacts needed to get core work done, plus list of peripheral but helpful/collaborative/interested others.
  4. Yearly plan: Major dates/deadlines/projects throughout the year.
  5. Philosophical documents: Mission/vision/philosophy/values and other core principles that have guided your work to now.
  6. Support staff: A list of who does what. My student staff keep a constantly updated manual going, and it REALLY helps make onboarding more efficient.
  7. Burn after reading: The down-low on relationships, funding, issues, and other contexts that are important to have a heads up on, but that aren’t “on record”.


  1. Email files: I’m sharing most email folders with the next person. I’m only sharing (and not exporting/importing) as they should only be for reference if necessary. It’s never a priority, but try to clean them up and delete irrelevant ones.
  2. Computer files: Keep them orderly fashion from the beginning (by project/task area) and it will be a huge help. At my last job I had no crossover time with the new person, but I heard back many thanks that all the files were easy to find!
  3. Paper files: I’m not a huge paper file person. But do the same as you should do with computer files.
  4. Online tools: Make sure any surveys/mail lists etc that you are the owner of either get shared or transferred to the new person.
  5. List of passwords and logins.

What do you do to help transition staff changeovers?

‘Best practice’ is a lie…and boring

Holy Grail
Image Credit: drp

Best practice is a lie; but if true, best practice is boring. What is best for any situation depends on many factors within the context.

Once all factors are established and certain, sure, I’ll submit to best practices existing. If the stakeholders, time, place, operating environment, leadership, and what people had for breakfast that morning are all set, I’m sure best practices could be identified. But then the world would be solved and we’d all be drones with exact plans of action for any scenario.

But otherwise, there is no best practice, only good practice.

Good practice depends on good leadership

Can the leader inspire a shared vision around the good practice? Can they motivate and encourage creativity around the practice? Can the model the good practice rather than just preaching it?

Good practice depends on stakeholders and place

Every community is unique. Every organization is unique. Every individual is unique. The uniqueness lies within history, interrelationships, culture, social norms. Best practice is not an ointment to be applied as directed in the instructions on the tube.

Good practice depends on the external operating environment

What works in boom times doesn’t always work in a recession. What works in times of emergency doesn’t work in time of peace. What’s going on in society – are people leaning left or right, looking out for themselves or others, recycling or wasting, etc. etc. Even so, I would say (of the top of my head without any direct evidence) that what often exists as a norm today came out of something radical and “bad” practice in the past.

In closing…

Best practices in one specific context can be useful beyond that context. They can give you ideas. They can build the literature around principles of good practice. They help with community, organizational, or individual praxis. But they aren’t a holy grail.