The Intro #58: How to transition out of a job

January 14, 2021
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Home 9 The Intro 9 The Intro #58: How to transition out of a job

We’ve been thinking a lot about transitions. With the events of last week seared into our memories and the potential of what could happen next week causing low-grade anxiety, we’ve been reflecting on how to transition well. Not just peacefully or non-chaos-inducing-ly — but effectively.

How do you make changes that actually help the people around you?

Obviously, we aren’t the president. But we do have teams. We have people who look up to us. We set a culture, we direct plans, we manage budgets, and we are responsible for collective success. Maybe it’s not so different after all…

So here are the questions we’re asking ourselves this week:

  1. Do other people know how to do what you do? If you left (or even simply went on a real vacation) could someone else easily cover for you?
  2. Do other people understand the value of what you do? What impact metrics could be better communicated? If you weren’t there to defend a project, could it defend itself?
  3. Are you growing as a leader/teammate/marketer/fundraiser/(insert word here)? This is our number one driver for making transitions. When we stop learning, we begin looking for new projects, new opportunities, or new ways to stretch our skills within our current roles.
  4. What are you exceptionally good at? Could you train someone else to have that skill, too? Think about what makes you awesome — and instead of hoarding that ability, try to share it.
  5. What is the legacy of your leadership? Think about the systems you have put in place and the culture you have cultivated. If you were to move on to something new tomorrow, what would be left in your wake? Is it something you’re proud of?

Years ago, when considering leaving a role she loved, one of our team members got some incredible advice. A mentor told her: “You can be replaced.” At first, she was offended (“No way! I’m really good at my job!”), but then she realized how true and freeing those words were.

You’re not the hero. The success (or failure) of the whole operation should never rest on one person’s shoulders. You can be replaced.

Believe in your work. Be great at what you do. Build a legacy that is way bigger than yourself. Transitions will never be easy, but they don’t have to be a chaotic nightmare. We promise.

Allison Kooser

Allison is Chief Storyteller at Swell+Good, where she partners with amazing organizations to help them bring their stories to life. She is an avid traveler, an expert takeout orderer, and a big believer in curiosity and kindness. She tries to learn something new every day, and she reads, writes, and paddleboards more than the average human.
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