Job transitions

by Honolulu Mother

In this request for advice to New York Magazine’s Ask a Boss, an employee leaving a nonprofit worried that her soon-to-be-former boss expected her to still be available after her planned departure for another job:

‘I Quit, But My Boss Won’t Let Me Go!’

Have you ever had a previous job try to follow you to your new job? Do you have any tips for smooth transitions, both for leaving the old workplace in good shape to carry on without you and for preparing to hit the ground running in the new job?


21 thoughts on “Job transitions

  1. Have you ever had a previous job try to follow you to your new job?

    All the time. At many places the staff figured outt that if they called the help desk their problem would be fixed eventually. If they called me, I could fix it right away. So for months after I left, my phone number remained on a sticky note on their monitor and I’d get calls in the middle of the night to fix things for them. And now that I think about it several places have called me years after I’ve left with questions.

  2. As Rhett said, all the time. But hands on service oriented non profits, as discussed in the article, are different. There is an expectation that you are part of the volunteer mission, and it is merely a oddity that the staff gets paid (usually poorly). You will be coming in not just because you wouldn’t leave co workers (or more likely the Boss) in the lurch, but you have merely transitioned to doing some of the stuff for FREE that you used to get paid for.

  3. For a time, I worked in a big organization and had 3 internal transfers. One of those, I had to keep some of my “old” job tasks through the end of a project, but it was part of the “deal” on negotiating the transfer. It was hard as the former boss kept trying to add on to the project, but, thankfully, we had the tasks delineated in writing and I was able to direct the former boss to the new one. I would say, “Former Boss, I believe that what you are asking me to do is outside the scope of what we agreed to. Therefore, I would be happy to do it if New Boss agrees. Do you want to approach him or should I?” This worked as I never was asked to do any of those tasks.

    My experience is that my bosses didn’t care really care about the transition happening or the consequences to the person getting those tasks. One boss assigned someone less than a week before I left to take over my duties. In this case, the boss was very sexist (also part of the reason I was leaving) and assigned my tasks to a younger and significantly less experienced female. She was overwhelmed by the amount of work I would be transferring to her and the complexity. He was clearly setting her up to fail. I offered that she could contact me after she left. She did several times and we became friends because of that.

    I think the bigger issue has to do with the industry you work in and how much leaving on less than excellent terms can affect your future. I have always given plenty of notice, sometimes more than 2 weeks. I generally could time my leaving to the end of a project, but when I couldn’t I never left at a critical point that would leave my co-workers in a bind. I do not think you should feel obligated to help your previous employer, but if you set time and scope boundaries, I think it can help your co-workers and bosses see you in a positive light.

  4. Most of my transitions have been within large organizations vs moving from employer to employer. Sometimes, especially early in my career, when I changed I moved to another office on the same floor, got a new manager and a one grade bump with the commensurate raise. In those cases everyone knew where I was (and I also usually knew where my predecessor was) so having people come ask me about my old job was normal.

    When I have gone from one employer to another I do not remember an instance where the old job boss/peers called with a job related question. I was outta there. Once I was laid off, once we reached a mutual agreement that things weren’t working, 3 times the long term ‘consulting’ arrangement I was working on ended.

  5. It is 2 weeks notice for an internal transfer.
    However increasingly managers negotiated to have the person available for questions for another two weeks, so a month in total.
    One woman was moved out of her new position because she just wouldn’t stop asking her predecessor questions. The cord has to be cut within a reasonable time.
    A new position is often sink or swim because hardly any groups document things. They will show and tell you about twice or just tell you. In about three months the picture begins to make sense.

  6. At one university, I was the only geographer on faculty. I called the former occupant of my position several times as I was trying to figure out how things worked at that university. One of the things he told me fairly early on was that a major reason for his departure was the university’s refusal to treat women faculty appropriately. His wife was one of several examples he gave.

    While I was in Berlin doing diss research, my dept contacted me about a student who had taken my class several years earlier. He was close to graduation and was disputing his grade in my class. Fortunately, I had left my class records in a bank of file cabinets in the department, so they were able to find them and make a decision without involving me further.

  7. “Have you ever had a previous job try to follow you to your new job? ”

    From one company to another? No, never. That would be very odd I think.

    When making internal transfers – of course. I think that is expected. I have been in a new role for over 18 months, and just last week I was asked to step in and take over something that was really related to my old role to help out my boss. This was not a small ask – it involved travel and 3 solid days of work. I moved within my department though, which is around 80 people in total, just from one function to another function.

  8. We don’t really have internal transfers. In big firms, occasionally people move locations (from Boston to NY office) but that is rare. I haven’t had anything follow me at all, probably because I was junior when I left. I am now dealing with leftover clients of one of our lawyers who died, which is always an adventure. He didn’t like to document or email and so there is often nothing in the file.

  9. I would add that it works the other way also. When I start a new project I will often offer to set up a call/demo with my previous customer. Often the sales process occurred at the management level and the staff that’s going to do the actual work has never even seen the product. Also the usual rule is you get sent to training and you get 2-3 chances to pass the test and if you can’t you get fired. So, people get very stressed about that so the like being able to talk to people who’ve been through it.

  10. I had a boss who had a really hard time understanding that when people took other jobs they didn’t work in our organization any more. He actually had me call a former colleague to ask him to come put on a presentation to the rest of the organization several years after the colleague had left. The former colleague said no. Almost a year I left, he called asking where some files were. My answer was, I gave them to you.

    He was truly terrible to work for, and as it happened, I shortly after I gave notice, my last existing colleague gave notice and his boss called us to in to find out why we were leaving. Um, because when we talked to you about how awful our immediate boss was, you said it wasn’t that bad and that you weren’t going to do anything. So, when we found other options, we took them.

  11. I’ve basically worked for one company my entire career, but have made a lot of internal moves. I’ve always tried to make myself available to former bosses and successors and fortunately, I don’t feel like they’ve ever abused the privilege.

  12. I think Meme is right in that non-profits, especially small non-profits, often hire from their volunteers and/or donors, so when you leave there is an expectation (true or false) that you will continue to support the mission of the non-profit. In contrast, if you work in an area with confidential or proprietary information, I think it is less likely for a former boss or co-workers to contact you.

    In my experience, when moving within an organization (vs between employers), it is more important to make sure that you aren’t burning bridges. It seems that often the boss you are leaving ends up is some other role in the organization where your relationship with them is important.

  13. On the contrary, one of my employers routinely gave gardening leave to resigning employees. This was typical for the industry, so you would plan on being out the door on the day you announced your resignation.

  14. At my previous employer, I changed jobs a few times. It was part of the culture there to encourage internal movement, with the retention of corporate history being one of the benefits to our employer, while we as employees benefited by not giving up benefits, e.g., years of service credited to increased vacation time, retirement vesting.

    So it was common for me to get inquiries from my successors, typically consultations WRT historical perspectives. Those typically took a short time and I enjoyed the brief trips down memory lane.

  15. In a prior job I had given more than a month notice that I was moving. I was actually suppose to transfer to another location but that fell through, and I took a job with a competitor. For months after I left I would get contacted by my old manager and coworkers. I kindly told them I couldn’t help.

    Since then, each position I’ve had has required me to learn on the fly with little help from others. I’ll help train my replacement, but after a short time I really need to limit it. I find that people will continue to ask for help instead of trying to do it themselves unless i put a hard stop to it.

  16. one of my employers routinely gave gardening leave to resigning employees.

    That’s so perfect. You already have a new job lined up so there isn’t any of that stress and you’re still getting paid so there isn’t that stress either – it’s just a nice long chunk of time off.

  17. I’m familiar with the use of “gardening” as a euphemism for something that makes July’s comment pretty funny. Any Corporette readers here today?

  18. In my field, its very very uncommon for employers to contact you once you’ve left. Too many conflicts of interest. I’ve only worked at two companies, professionally, but did change departments and locations at my first. Like other posters, with internal transfers, I occasionally got a question or two about an older project but everything is also well documented and/or staffed with more than 1 person, so the newer people could figure it out. At my current place, they seem to fire people without somehow documenting their institutional knowledge beforehand, so we often have to spend a lot of time figuring out what happened and who still remembers what because we can’t contact the person that was just let go.

  19. Speaking of workplaces I will be moving away from the city center. The new commute is not too bad but working in an office park is just now the same.
    The commute for me has increased a bit but for some folks it doubled and working from home is better

  20. Lemon’s comment ” I’ll help train my replacement, but after a short time I really need to limit it. I find that people will continue to ask for help instead of trying to do it themselves unless i put a hard stop to it.” is right on the money.

    I am in a situation where we are on the second replacement of a job I used to hold. I retired from the employer, but am now back part-time. The replacement does NOT want to learn parts of the job. Replacement would ask me to “help” but after the first time I realized the goal was to avoid learning how to do it, I stopped. Because we have the same boss some of my old job is back on my plate. On one hand, it is OK, because other tasks I would have been assigned (crap jobs IMO) are now going to the replacement. However, it annoys me because they now have almost 1.75 people (granted who together make slightly more than I did alone) doing what I did by myself.

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