One of the most exciting moments on any team is welcoming a new member. There is so much excitement, potential, and energy that comes along with incorporating a new person into an organization. Everyone is working hard to make sure the new person feels welcomed and included while the new team member is trying to make a good impression and fit into the culture of the organization. 

It’s a lot like the beginning of a dating relationship. Everyone just wants to put their best foot forward and build a solid foundation for the future. The part that no one wants to think about in the beginning of a relationship is the end of the relationship. The same is true on a team. The excitement that comes when you welcome a new person into your organization will fade and, hopefully after a season of hard work and fruitful relationships, the time will come for that team member to transition into a new role.

Transitions are bittersweet for everyone involved, but they should not be negative or overly dramatic. Transitions, when handled correctly, are a very important part of an organization; they promote health and growth. Just as your team member is moving on to a new position and opportunity, your organization now has a chance to bring in fresh eyes and a new perspective. Transitions are not the end of a relationship, they are the growth of a family. Realistically, however, it can be difficult to navigate transitions on your team.

Here are a few ways to handle transitions in a healthy way.

1. Celebrate

Regardless of the circumstances, that team member will carry your influence on to the next assignment. The lessons he learned and the impact that you had will go with him as he transitions. Make sure you are giving him something good to take with him. Throw a party, encourage, thank him for the work that he has done. Your transitioning team member has value, so make sure you affirm that.

2. Facilitate

Offer whatever kind of assistance you can. Give that team member a good reference, be willing to work with them on their exit date, or give them wisdom. It will be a positive reflection on your organization if people can leave you and find further success in their career. When you invest in your people, you are not simply investing in the growth of your organization. You are investing in the personal and professional growth of individuals. Help them discover opportunities to land successfully and do what you can to facilitate that success.

3. Navigate

Make a plan. Hopefully, the person leaving your staff has another job lined up or a set plan of what they are going to do next. In the same way, you need to make sure that your organization is positioned to experience growth from this change. This will only be healthy for your team if you can create a smooth transition period. Whether that means hiring a new person or reordering your organizational flow chart, do what is necessary to set your team up for success.

Transitions can be difficult. I understand that not every transition takes place amicably and out of a mutual understanding. Some transitions are messy. And while you cannot dictate the behavior of your transitioning team member, you can decide how you want to handle it. Be careful to avoid pettiness or passive aggressive behavior through this process. Transitions can be difficult, but they don’t have to be destructive.

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