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Entries in Transition (1)


How Fast Should We Do Managerial Transitions?

The best boss I ever had was a big red-faced Irishman by the name of Hugh McGlinchey.  He had a standing rule to immediately let someone go once they resigned….paying them for their notice period.  It seemed inconsistent with Hugh’s empowering good nature for this “vindictive” trait to be a part of his personality.

One day over an appropriate beverage, I asked Hugh about this inconsistency and was curious if he wanted people gone so they couldn’t harm any systems. He was stunned people thought he was being vindictive.  “I believe most people have their work wrapped up by the time they resign.  Why make them sit there waiting for their last day?  Why not let them have some time off before they start their new gig?”  You can see why Hugh was a great boss!

At another place, a CIO transition took the better part of two years.  The decade-long CIO and the CIO-in-Waiting both communicated the plans widely.  They had a whole metaphor around driving a car, and who was in the driver seat and back seat.  So for a year, the original CIO drove, and then they swapped roles at one year. 

This just seemed to take way too long.  While the two CIOs shared a vision, they were very different.  One was fairly thrifty, and the other had strong beliefs about making strategic investments.  When requesting a budget spend, people would walk into a room, make their case, then their heads would bop back and forth like a bobblehead toy waiting for a decision.

If you are coming in to a new role, you can’t dive in out of respect for the incumbent.  If you are vacating the role, you are not taking on any new (major) projects and suffer what I call a “living wake,” where everyone comes by and pays their respects to the nearly departed.

Lengthy transitions are frustrating.  They are frustrating for the person vacating, as they often want to move on to the next thing (even if they are being terminated.)  They are frustrating to the incoming person, as they can’t get into their new job.  And they are frustrating for the rest of the organization, as there can be a gap in role clarity.

So you’ve probably figured out I advocate for quicker transitions.  I do think it is appropriate for the person “moving on” to respond to a call or email, and be helpful in any reasonable way. 

Truthfully, a week is more than enough time for a transition.  Anything more than that and it becomes counterproductive.

What are your experiences or horror stories?