5 actions to take when you learn a long-term IT leader is leaving your team

5 actions to take when you learn a long-term IT leader is leaving your team

long-term IT leader leaves

Imagine being in prehistoric times. You are in the middle of a sun-kissed field, the winds making the grass wave like the sea. A few minutes pass...and a feeling of tranquility washes over you. Then, from the browning blades, a lion leaps towards you.

From the perspective of biology, we human beings are wired to be wary of drastic changes in our environment. Instinct tells us that change— like a predator that pounces from out of nowhere — is dangerous, so any sudden shift — even in safe environments like the workplace — can be jarring and unsettling for us. We find comfort in the predictable and familiar, and we need smooth transitions to help us cope with change.

This is very much the case when an IT executive opts to leave their position. Whether they are moving laterally across the organization to a new team or department, departing the company for another firm, or simply retiring, them doing so abruptly can:

  • Create resource and skills gaps
  • Disrupt processes they’re responsible for
  • Hold up projects they are part of
  • Produce anxiety among those who’ll be left behind
  • Cause the loss of priceless institutional knowledge

Here’s what you can do to address these concerns:

Do a knowledge transfer and a turnover of responsibilities

An IT employee who has been with your company for a long time is a treasure trove of technical expertise and problem-solving experience. They have intimate knowledge of your IT systems and have implemented many processes that lack documentation, so ask the leaving employee to share their knowledge with an interim or actual replacement. That replacement must be competent enough to learn the ropes quickly so that processes continue to run normally post-departure.

IT manager succession plan infographic

While you’re considering a possible replacement, do an audit of everything the exiting employee is tasked with, then distribute their responsibilities so that nothing will be left hanging. Take note of how their job has evolved to have a better picture of what you’ll need if you choose to hire.

Notify all stakeholders about possible project delays…

...and have them help you come up with strategies on how to mitigate such disruptions. For example, if the exiting employee is part of an app-building collaboration between your company and a partner developer, share with that partner how you plan to keep the project on track. Let that partner pitch their ideas as well — perhaps they have new talent they can immediately assign to the project, or maybe they’re willing to move forward without backfilling the position and just adjust the project timeline accordingly.

Implement a succession policy

When filling senior positions, consider giving preference to internal staff over outsiders. This prevents employees from feeling bypassed and developing resentment against the company.

However, to mitigate transition issues, institute a policy to promote only those who have competent successors to replace them. This creates a positive company culture where:

  • Knowledge sharing is standard practice
  • Ambitious subordinates are seen as promotion facilitators instead of as competition
  • Mentor-mentee relationships are commonplace
  • Learning and certification are encouraged
  • Upward mobility is seamless

If possible, consult with the departing employee and access HR records to help determine if a suitable internal candidate is indeed ready to step up to the plate. An honest assessment by the outgoing leader will help you understand if promoting is an option, if hiring is the best path forward, or if this change is the ideal opportunity to bring in a managed service provider.

Seek the assistance of a managed IT services provider (MSP)

If the departing staff member’s role is so specialized that nobody else in your team can take it on, turn to XBASE for help. You’ll gain access to the latest technologies, get the expertise of fully certified technicians, and be able to assess your current IT environment more fully.

Switching to our services is also your opportunity to optimize and reconfigure your systems (e.g., migrate from on-premise servers to cloud servers) or fully explore if you want to enlarge your IT department or outsource your IT moving forward.

Lastly, turning to us may be your best opportunity for a smooth transition: with the tools that we have, we can quickly assess your infrastructure and be fully prepared to support it within days. The best-case scenario is that we have the cooperation and assistance of the departing employee — but do know that since we have an army of top-notch technicians with specializations across the entire field of IT, we are fully capable of taking on the tasks your specialist will leave behind even without any knowledge transfer from that employee.

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Touch base with those who’ll be left behind

Morale may take a hit once employees learn that their teammate is leaving them, so you need to assure them that processes are in place to ensure a smooth transition and that they will be alright. Be transparent with your plans, and ask your staff to bring up their concerns so that these can be promptly addressed.

Letting go of someone who’s been an integral part of your IT team can be difficult, but their departure doesn’t need to cause disruption to your business. To ensure a smooth transition, leverage our Exponentially Better™ IT support services. Learn more by consulting with our specialists at XBASE Technologies Corporation today.

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