It’s always hard to say goodbye to a colleague, especially someone who’s so central and ingrained in the company lore and holds so much of the “tribal knowledge”. Hell, I was that guy just a couple years ago.
So now I’ve seen a couple such old-hats move on from my current team, and seeing both sides of the proverbial torch-passing is interesting. There’s definitely some very common, very important things that we should always do.
Documentation, documentation, and more documentation.
Indeed. Also, finishing critical tasks, handing off in-flight projects, re-assigning tickets, talking to managers, prepping teammates for the work overflow, and cleaning out that huge buildup of clutter that you’ve collected over the years. Virtual or physical… often both!
Unsurprisingly, where we all seem to differ widely is the human aspects. Breaking the news, saying goodbyes, doing those last-minute get-togethers and send-offs. What do those last few weeks and days look like? For some, it’s just business-as-usual up to the last minute — they’re literally so busy they have little other choice. That’s how it was with the helpdesk manager we parted with last year. I used some of the time to put together documentation and thank-you letters, which I hope ended up being helpful. Database diagrams were printed and taped. Wikis were written.
But the main thing is to make sure you exchange contact info and stay in touch. It gives the team a sense of comfort, knowing they can reach back out when those random questions that nobody’s thought about for several months resurface.
I’ve learned a lot from those folks that took the time to pass on their knowledge and made the effort to keep in contact. And I appreciate them for that! Today I’ll thank one of my exiting managers; she knows who she is. She taught me a lot about our internal application stacks, integration and interop, company culture, tribal knowledge, and not standing for anybody’s BS, including my own. Good luck with consulting, stay in touch, and kick some butt!