If you’ve brought on an external consultant, at some point, the work will likely wind down. There may be some possibility of that consultant transitioning to a role on your team — especially if you’ve brought on fractional talent. More often, the consultant may be moving on to a completely new adventure outside your organization. Either way, if you’ve established a solid working relationship with your consultant, offboarding provides an opportunity to continue to build on that relationship and ensure the upcoming transition is seamless.
Here are some ideas for how to make the offboarding process as smooth as possible.
Communicate the transition effectively
Changes within an organization can invite anxiety and curiosity. It’s important to make sure every team member is on the same page in regards to why and when change is happening and what it will look like. Establishing context for the exit, both with your team and the consultant, is crucial.
Crafting the message with your consultant to announce their exit from your company is a way to ensure authenticity. Keep the message as clear and simple as possible, and direct curious team members to ask questions of the consultant. The more open and genuine you are in your response to an employee leaving, the less anxious and worried your remaining team will (hopefully) be.
Capture the knowledge
Regardless of the role this consultant fills within your company, they have been a valuable contributor and their transition will be felt by the remaining team members.
They may have updated systems or created processes that helped improve the flow of your company, spearheaded innovative ideas and made them reality–in turn growing your business–or had customer relationships or project ownership that will need to be backfilled.
So how do you encapsulate all that before they walk out the door? Have them write it down! Ask your consultant to draft a summary including:
- What they accomplished during their tenure with your company
- Any goals and directives that remain in-progress
- Status updates on those goals and directives, including next steps, so that a new team member can pick those up with relative ease
Your consultant was a key contributor, possibly more than you realized because much of it may have been behind-the-scenes or just not on your radar because you were busy growing a business. That’s okay. But before you let your consultant ‘loose into the wild,’ dig in and really encapsulate any new institutional knowledge and processes they brought to the forefront during their tenure at your company. This will give you an opportunity to share your appreciation for them one last time and help raise their awareness on all they offered (and where they can build their resume) as well as provide you valuable insights you may have overlooked while you were busy with other elements of your business.
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Madeleine Niebauer is the Founder & CEO of vChief Virtual Chief of Staff service, which offers part-time and interim chief of staff support to start-ups, nonprofit organizations, and businesses of all sizes.