How to Leave a Positive Legacy
When you leave a job, there will always be some sort of impact you leave on that role. Being the best of the best, I'm sure you want to leave a positive one. I will share some ways in which to do so.
First, you should give sufficient notice. We all know that two weeks is standard practice, however, consider giving more time if you are able. I especially urge this if you will have an impact on your principal's personal life. On the flip side, consider if you've seen other people's time cut short when given too much advance notice. I gave three months notice when I was a House Manager because I knew that my departure would impact an entire family, but in some of my office roles, three weeks was appropriate. Also, think about if you will be offering to find and possibly train the person taking over your role; that can affect your notice period.
No matter the amount of notice you are able to give, you can start lining things up for your departure immediately. Many times we know when it's time for the next venture weeks or months in advance, so as soon as those thoughts cross your mind you can start getting your house in order. You can do this by sprucing up (or starting) your job manual, keeping an outstanding task list and making sure the spaces you oversee are in great shape.
Leaving an up-to-date detailed job manual before your departure is one of the most important things you can do. I cannot stress the importance of doing this enough. Your job manual is not only a record of the immense value you added to your role but will be the most precious resource to your successor. Whoever is filling your role next will appreciate being able to look up as much information as possible. Be sure to cover tricky scenarios that you were able to resolve so the new person doesn't have to waste time researching how to tackle a situation that has a known best approach. They can always tweak those approaches if they find a better one or add additional information, the main point is to avoid making the next person reinvent the wheel. I recommend checking out my previous article about creating a job manual if you would like tips on how to set one up.
Make a list of outstanding tasks. If there is anything that you will not be able to fully wrap up before your departure, create this detailed list so either the next person in your role or others filling in temporarily can have an overview. Be sure to include due dates (if there are any), all details about each task and who is assigned to take it over. Also, take the time to review each task with the person it is being passed along to so they have a chance to ask clarifying questions before you leave. This list can be done in an Excel document or, if you are using a task management program, you can simply assign outstanding tasks or share entire projects electronically.
Make sure space(s) you oversee or work in are left in great shape. Clean out your desk area so no clutter is left behind, make sure any spaces you overlook remain organized and ensure all items you normally keep in stock remain that way through your last day. You could even go one step beyond and ensure the items you keep in stock have a few extra so it's not something the new person taking over your role or others temporarily filling in have to worry about anytime soon.
Be sure to say your thank you's. Maybe the person you supported provided extra mentorship. Maybe there was a coworker who made your time in your role special. Reflect on the people who surrounded you and take the time to show gratitude.
When you say your final goodbyes, give the people you worked with a means of keeping in touch. You don't have to give our your personal cell number or address, just an email address will suffice. I also recommend connecting with the people you worked with on LinkedIn. As a great article in The Muse stated, even though you are departing, you want to show that you are not completely severing ties.
When you have departed, there will always be a little bit of you that will remain. These pieces of you will linger in the procedures you established, the expectations for the next person filling your shoes and in people's general memories of you. I've seen opinions of other workers take a huge 180 when they didn't take the time to tie up their role nicely before their departure, so use your last days wisely to ensure your legacy is a positive one.
Have you taken steps in the past to ensure you left a role in a positive way? Please share your experiences below!