How to effectively manage short-timer syndrome

If you’ve ever managed employees who are working out their notice period, you are likely to be all too familiar with short-timer syndrome. It’s a condition used to describe the significant drop in productivity that comes when an employee has decided or been informed that they are leaving your company.

While not all employees take on the “dead employee walking” persona, many do drop their level of care and commitment, preventing you from capturing critical information and contacts or closing out tasks and projects in the way they need to be.

So, how do you manage the transition out of their role well enough to ensure you close out what you need to, equip remaining staff the information they need and protect your reputation while still being sensitive to your exiting employee? Here are some tips to help you effectively manage short-timer syndrome.

Plan a thorough handover

Early in the notice period, it’s essential to sit down with your exiting employee and create a detailed handover document. This should outline all current tasks and projects and include a list of all key contacts.

Quite often, you will find that an employee is doing tasks well beyond what their original job description detailed, that is why this handover document is so crucial, it ensures that their knowledge is transferred before they leave your company.

Capture the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’

Through the handover, make sure you don’t just capture ‘what’ your transitioning employee is doing, you also need to document ‘how’ they are doing it. Too many times, employees leave an organisation without communicating the processes, workflows and shortcuts they have used to get the work done efficiently. Not capturing the ‘how’ could result in your remaining team operating at a significant disadvantage once the employee leaves.

Be realistic with their workload

It can be challenging to keep a transitioning employee productive through their notice period. As they are no longer invested in your company – or your success – there is a high chance that their performance and productivity will drop. For this reason, it’s important to work out which projects still need their input and what tasks they can reasonably complete within their notice period.

If projects or tasks will outlast them, ensure that there is a thorough handover with the person or team that will take it over once they are gone. Ideally, have them work alongside the transitioning employee during their notice period. In the case of redundancy, it may not be the tasks or projects that will continue, but it could be the relationships they’ve had with key clients, suppliers or industry contacts that need to be maintained once they leave.

Make sure they leave on a good note

The departure of an employee can be stressful for all involved, particularly when it’s involuntary, so make sure they leave on a good note.

In the case of redundancy, outplacement plays a significant role in this. Outplacement programs will help equip your transitioning employee move on to their next career opportunity faster than going it alone. Conducting an exit interview is also an excellent opportunity to clear the air, obtain some useful feedback and recognise their commitment and contribution to your company.

While they may not work for you anymore, it’s important to remember that they still have the power to impact your employment brand once they have gone.

Need help managing short-timer syndrome in your organisation or preparing for the separation conversation? We’re experts in Career Transition and Outplacement. Call us today on 1300 27 83 45 or head to www.turningpointpartners.com.au.

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