How to Transition From One Employee to Another

by J.B. Maverick

2 min read

Many small businesses start as a one-person team, and making the transition from owner/operator to employer is an exciting step. Hiring your first employee is significant for your company’s growth and because it lays the groundwork for hiring future employees and transitioning tasks from one employee to another. There are a number of reasons for the need to transition – an employee could get promoted, get fired, or move on to another company, for example. Consider the following tips as guidelines to make a smooth shift when you’re moving work from one employee to another.

Create a Concise Training Manual

A concise training manual provides a major advantage when an employee starts working for your company or moves into a new role. As the owner of the business, you already know and understand the essential functions that need to be performed and may have already done them yourself. A new employee, or one that is taking on a new role, needs guidance. Consider having employees keep regular documentation of their responsibilities, how they carry them out, and any helpful tips and tricks they’ve picked up to make their job easier. These instructions are vital for the next employee.

Establish a Timeline

If an employee is simply being promoted, the timeline and a period of overlap is slightly less crunched. However, for employees that are moving on, you generally have at least a two-week window to bring in another employee to fill the position. Sit down with the transitioning employee and create a timeline so you have a clear idea of how much time you have to work with. This also gives you and the employee a better idea of how much time is left to finish projects they’ve already started and to determine what tasks need to be saved for the next employee – and how to hand them off smoothly.

Use Shadowing

Creating this timeline also lets the incoming employee shadow the transitioning employee. If a solid, concise training manual has been created, then the new employee already has excellent reference material. Still, there is no substitution for shadowing – being able to watch the transitioning employee in action, getting a working understanding of how to handle certain tasks and other elements of their duties that are best learned by watching.

For the Employee Who’s Leaving

The best way to cut down on tension when an employee leaves your company is to make it a positive process. While the leaving employee has duties they must fulfill before moving on – including training the person who will be filling their shoes – don’t saddle them with any more work than is absolutely necessary. Make sure they understand that you support their transition and wish them well, wherever they end up. The process of transitioning from one employee to another is often stressful. Having established procedures for such transitions can make the shift smoother.

References & Resources

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