Transitioning Out Right

Over the last few weeks there have been some great conversations via blogs,  Twitter, etc. about interviews and transitioning into a new position. We’ve discovered a plethora of hints and tips on how to learn the office environments, campus politics and best practices for learning your new job, etc. For me, it’s been hugely helpful, especially now that I’m about to transition to a new position with Michigan State University.

However, personally, the difficult part of a transition is leaving a position. For some reason, we don’t really think of transitioning out as a priority, however it’s just as important, if not more so, to transition out well.

So, I’ve come up with a few helpful hints that I’ve adapted for myself to help me transition out of a position. Maybe you’ll find them helpful as you transition.


Tip 1: Social Media Platforms

Don’t switch over your position etc. on your platforms until your VERY last day in the old position. While it’s fun to list a new position and change titles, you are still that role until you are gone, and to prematurely switch over titles on social media, is disrespectful to your position and the office/institution that you are leaving.


Tip 2: Create a Transition Out Plan

Work with your supervisor to come up with a plan for transitioning out. Make sure to cover what projects will transfer to other staff, how to communicate the transition and project transfers, what information the staff and your supervisor need during the transition and for after you have left. Set firm deadlines to help ensure that projects and programs are transitioned and as little as possible falls through the proverbial cracks in the floor.


Tip 3: Close Out and Assess Reports

Make a list of all your projects and programs that you have completed. Create reports on each one which includes timelines, budgets, contact lists, assessments, etc. Include what you would change or any suggestions or ideas that you have for future versions of your project or program. Submit these reports to your supervisor so they have a copy, and ALWAYS ensure to make a digital and hard copy of your reports for your successor. This will allow them to hit the ground running with an understanding of projects and programs as well as using those as resources, especially if they are annual events.


Tip 4: Current Projects and Programs

Make a list of all your active projects and programs. Create a folder/binder for each one which includes timelines, budgets, contact lists, etc. Include all of your next steps and future deadlines etc. Also one helpful thing is to write a vision/goal and learning outcomes for each of the events so your successor is able to understand the purpose of the project or program.  Make sure your supervisor has a copy and, again, ensure there’s a digital and hard copy for your successor.


Tip 4: Meet with Your Network

Make sure to meet with your collaborators and colleagues on campus before you leave. Get all their contact information. Use these not only for your successor’s benefit etc., but also for yourself, so you are able to stay in contact with them. Additionally, use this as a professional development opportunity and have a conversation with them about working together as professionals and what your strengths are and what you could improve on and other helpful professional hints and tips.


Tip 5: Final Transition Meeting

Meet with your supervisor the day before your last day to go over your Transition Out Plan to make sure everything has been transitioned to the best of your ability. Some things will not have gone as well as hoped due to differing priorities, time, or schedules, but this way you are doing your absolute best to ensure a smooth transition. Also use this time for professional development and get the good, the bad, and the ugly and what you can improve on as a professional.


Tip 6: Leave with a Clean Office

Make sure your office space/cubicle, desk, etc. is clean. Be respectful of the work you’ve done in that space and the future work to be done in the space. For me, I also like to leave a note to my successor, who ever it is, welcome them and give any hints or tips I’ve learned that may help them navigate their transition into the position.


Tip 7: Leave with Big Smile

No matter how you came to leave or transitioning out, leave with a smile and a positive attitude. Life is too short for negative or gossipy exits. Plus Higher Education is a VERY small field and why create a track record of negativity?


So, I hope that some of these might help you transition out of a position smoothly and professionally or to help you transition out one of your employees.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!


Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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