All teams hire new people and transition when someone leaves. But is there anything special we should be doing on a remote team to bid farewell?

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Just like the onboarding process, the exiting process looks different on every team. But it’s good to think about what you will do when somebody leaves. What will the process look like? The Happy Melly team’s routine is called the “Team farewell process”. The plan has two categories: Before a person leaves, and after a person leaves.


Before the goodbye

Before a person leaves, the team organizes the handover of responsibilities, plan a goodbye party and organize a gift. They also organize a “Farewell chat” or as you have probably heard it called: an exit interview.

  1. Organize a goodbye party and gift. It’s a nice way of showing appreciation.
  2. Organize the handover of commitments and responsibilities.
  3. Lastly, host an exit interview, or as the Happy Melly team calls it, a farewell chat. A couple of team members will record a video conversation where they ask following questions:
    1. What things could be improved and what things should be sustained and/or built upon?
    2. What did you like the most and the least about working here?
    3. What will you be gaining in your new situation that you didn’t find here?
    4. What processes did you like more or less?

Tip! It’s a good idea to record farewell chats for the team members that weren’t able to be part of the conversation so that everybody can hear what the person said.

After the goodbye

  1. Go through your onboarding system, whatever that may be, and then ‘unboard’ the person.
  2. Remove them from all the social media accounts and tools your company uses.
  3. Host a team retrospective to discuss the new team configuration. When somebody joins or leaves the team, it essentially becomes a new team. There’s a new combination of skills and personalities that need to adjust to each other.

The tool or process we use for onboarding is not as important as having a plan in place. What we want is a smooth and productive transition through a time of change.


Additional offboarding resources

Manager’s Action Plan

71 – How To Resolve Conflict On Virtual Teams

106 – How To Take Your Virtual Team Temperature

133 – Superpower Hour: Feedback On Virtual Teams

40 – Feedback On Virtual Teams

112 – Onboarding virtual team members

Podcast production by Podcast Monster – http://www.podcastmonster.com/

Graphic design by Alfred Boland – http://bolanden.nl/ab.html


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Original transcript

Welcome to the Collaboration Superpowers podcast. My name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast. This week, I want to focus on what do we do when somebody leaves the team because inevitably, on every team, co-located or remote, people come and they go. And on the Happy Melly team, we’ve had a couple of people come and go. So we’ve developed our own exit process, or as we like to call it, the farewell process. Now just like the onboarding process, the exiting process looks different on every team. But it is good to think about what will you do when somebody leaves. What will the process look like? So today, what I want to share with you is what the Happy Melly process looks like and how we came up with that. And hopefully, it will inspire you with ideas for how you can improve your farewell process. How the Happy Melly team came up with their farewell process is that I started with just a draft of ideas, and then I presented that draft to the team. And my thinking was it’s always better to have something down on paper rather than go to the team with a blank piece of paper. So I started the process and just wrote down thoughts and a structure, and then I had the team give input to that structure, and we went further like that.

We’ve split our farewell process into two different parts, which is before the person leaves and after the person leaves. And I should mention that the farewell process is all documented in a Google doc that we keep on our Google Drive. So everyone has access to it. Everybody can comment on it. People can make suggestions for how to improve it. It’s completely open to the team.

Since I’m the remote office manager for the Happy Melly team, I usually kick the process off, and then other people join me along the way depending on who was working closely with the person that’s leaving. But the first thing that we do before the person leaves is we organize a goodbye party and a goodbye gift. So we’ll start thinking of ideas as a team and start getting the footwork going depending on when the person is leaving.

The next is a little bit less fun, which is we need to organize the handover of responsibilities. So we usually look at their work profiles which a person has already written, that they did that when they joined the team. So it’s a profile that sort of outlines what are their commitments and their responsibilities to the team. And we look at who can take over that workflow. Or if we need to hire somebody else, we can use that as a job description for the next person and hopefully hire them before the person leaves. But in any case, we start documenting responsibilities and figuring out how to hand them over to the next person.

The next thing we do before a person leaves is we host a farewell chat, which is analogous to the exit interview. And as a team, we decided that the person that’s going to host the farewell chat is the same one or two people who are doing all the interviews, all just for consistency and productivity. So on Happy Melly team, I usually take the lead in terms of organizing the farewell chat. Other people are welcome to join if they want to.

One thing to note is that we record our farewell chats for the team members that weren’t able to be part of the conversation so that everybody can hear what the person said. And in those farewell chats, we have four basic questions. And people can ask more. But in general, we decided as a team that there were four questions we wanted to ask. The first one is what things could be improved at Happy Melly and what things should be sustained and/or built on.

The second question is what did you like the most and the least about working here. The third question is what will you be gaining in your new situation that you weren’t finding here. And the fourth is what processes did you like more or less. So those are the four general questions that we asked during the conversation, and then we recorded for the team.

Now eventually, the person is going to have to go. And after they leave, we of course start with weeping and grieving. And some of us break out the whiskey for a little while, and we really mourn the loss of the person. But at some point, we have to pull ourselves together and go on. And the next thing that we do after a person leaves is that we go through our onboarding Trello Board and we unboard the person. So essentially, when we hire a person, we go through a whole process, and we have each step documented on a Trello Board. And when the person leaves, we basically go through that Trello Board backwards. We remote them from all the social media accounts and the Google Drive and the Slack. And we just go through each thing and make sure that we have covered all the bases.

And then the last thing that we do is that as a team, we host a retrospective to talk about it. So people will have watched the interview by then. And then just as a team, we can process that person leaving together.

Okay, so that’s it. That is the Happy Melly farewell process that we use for people who are leaving the team. I hope you found the information valuable. And if you want to share your farewell process with me, please do. I would love to hear about it. You can find all the contact information at collaborationsuperpowers.com. Stay tuned next week when I speak with Patrick Linton. He is the co-founder and CEO at Bolton Remote which is a company that outsources talent in the Philippines. I’m really learning a lot about outsourcing. It’s very interesting.

A big thanks to the awesome Nick, the Podcast Monster who makes this podcast sound so pro. You can hire him to make you a star at podcastmonster.com. And another thanks to the dazzling Alfred Boland who is the graphic designer for Collaboration Superpowers. You can hire him to make you look cool at bolanden.nl. All right, everybody. Until next week, spend a little time thinking about your farewell process and be powerful.




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