Regardless of position or title, we all eventually move on. Unless you intend to stay in one job in one place for your entire career, you need to think about how to transition what you do and what you know to someone else. There is no better exit strategy than preparing others to take over for you when you choose to leave.
To help staff at the U.S. Government Accountability Office more effectively share their knowledge, experience and network of contacts, the Learning Center offers these suggestions as part of personal succession planning.
• Write your own position description that captures the key knowledge, skills and contacts you acquired in carrying out your job.
• Develop a one-year calendar that lays out predictable crises or key events that arise time and again.
• Create an annotated Rolodex of your key network of contacts. Include information on who your contacts are, why they are significant to the work you do and the nature of the relationship. Include both internal and external contacts.
• Keep a notebook on lessons learned. At the end of an activity or a program, jot down what you hoped would happen, what actually happened and what you learned from the process.
• Start a file on tips and tricks. Describe what you wish someone had explained or demonstrated to you rather than having to learn it the hard way.
• Offer to mentor others in performing your kind of work.
• Diagram simple decision trees to capture the tacit process you use in making choices on the job. Drawing the if-then choices helps to clarify your thought processes.
• Invite others to shadow you on some aspect of the job. Make time to explain the dynamics involved and to answer questions they may have.
• Start a wiki and invite others in the unit to share information that will broaden everyone’s understanding of what the work requires.
• Organize a community of practice with others who engage in the same kind of work you do or who share the same challenges and issues.
• Create job aids that will help your successor do your job.
• When you work with others on the job, make an effort to state your assumptions and to explain your thought processes.
• Offer to serve as a subject matter expert in helping the learning department to develop courses or performance support tools related to your job.
• Capture critical knowledge in key documents and leave a well-marked map on how to find them.
• Make notes about what you wish you had known that can help someone else more rapidly ascend the learning curve.
• Draft a loose-ends checklist that describes initiatives, programs or work that remains to be done.