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Managing Transition

October 15, 2018


On October 9, CASCHA colleagues clicked to join our CASCHA Chat which was intended to be all about goals for the year. Good conversations ensued, and one main theme rose to the top: TRANSITION.


The group touched on transition from many different angles: 

  • helping new professionals transition into a housing role,

  • assisting RAs entering new communities,

  • making career transitions from entry level to mid-level,

  • preparing to transition out of a role and leaving the next professional well-equipped to succeed, and

  • ensuring that professional associations thrived through transitions.

After our discussion, it dawned on me that we are never really taught how to lead a successful transition into or out of a position or role. This is typically left to departmental policy or not addressed at all, so let's dive in and address it now.




One way to equip the successor(s) to a position or a role is to create a dynamic transition plan. A transition plan identifies the regular responsibilities and duties of that role, as well as the projects and deadlines that the successor would take on. A really good transition plan would also include the main stakeholders relevant to a particular role along with their contact information and how they relate.


Idealistcareers.org offers a great template to create your transition plan in their Template Toolbox. The template encourages the following breakdown of duties and responsibilities:

  • Non-recurring

  • Daily

  • Weekly

  • Monthly

  • Quarterly/Semesterly

  • Annually

This breakdown allows for the successor to have a clear picture of the requirements from meta to minutia, which will be helpful for them in creating their routine. As you document these duties, answer the following questions (adapted and expanded from a Helios HR's article) to make it easier for the new person:

  • Is the person in this position solely responsible for this task?

  • Who else within the institution knows how this works?

  • Why is this responsibility important?

The Idealist Careers template also recommends highlighting important information regarding any outstanding projects including the status of the project, names of colleagues involved thus far, deadlines, and any files or documents germane to the project.




Hopefully the person before you created a brilliantly specific Transition Plan that will allow you to hit the ground running in your new position. If not, work with your supervisor to create the transition plan you would have liked to have received on the first day, using the template above. The best time to begin a Transition Plan is long before you plan to transition out of that role -- ideally, when everything is new. Each time you learn of a new duty or responsibility, you can add this to your working Transition Plan, which will help to ensure that no duties are left off.


In addition to the Transition Plan, you will want to receive concrete answers to the following questions from your supervisor and peers:

  • What does success look like in this role?

  • What traditions should I be aware of?

  • How can I help you meet the needs of your supervisor through my role?

  • What are the current priorities?

  • What regular meetings/events do I need to attend?

Business Insider offers some good tips for employees in their first month at a new job here.




We can all work to reach out to new or exiting employees to make sure the transition process is going well, especially when we plan to stick around. If you know of an employee transitioning out of a role, sit with them to make sure that you are included appropriately in their Transition Plan. You can offer to be a contact for certain projects or to serve as an interim overseer of a particular responsibility. With employees transitioning into a role, plan to incrementally make contact to answer any questions they may have or to provide clarity of priorities and rationales. 


No matter the type of transition, we all have a role we can play. It is important to plan for the inevitable of exiting and entering positions, whether you are the one transitioning or if you are assisting with the transition. 

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