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July 17, 2013 (Updated: January 26, 2023)
No one wants to talk about when they’re going to leave a job. Transitioning content managers means putting your company’s blog, social channels, and brand voice in the hands of someone new. How can you be prepared and how can you cope?
These are a few small projects that content managers can do to make sure their affairs are in order when the time comes to submit their two weeks’ notice, followed by steps for their supervisors to take when they leave.
Content managers create multiple accounts and set up countless usernames and passwords each year. They know everything from the Facebook log-in information to the printer codes. As new accounts are created, add the usernames and passwords to a document or password manager (like LastPass or KeePass) so all of the information is in one place. This way you only have to share one account when you leave. No one wants to go on a wild goose chase to find out if the person before them created a Buzzfeed account and what its password was.
Process docs make the on-boarding process a breeze and cut down on the number of questions new people ask about various tools and platforms. By creating one sheets or style guides for various forms of content, you are helping make the transition process easier for the next person.
The more detailed the process docs are the better. What might be second nature to you could be a major stumbling block for someone else. Also, once you’ve created the guides, audit them at least once a year to see if the information is still accurate or if there’s something new to add.
These instruction manuals make the on-boarding process easier but can also help while you’re still there. If you take on an intern or a new employee, you already have guide for them to learn from.
Now that you’ve created your fancy style guide and process docs, test them out on other colleagues. Does someone on the PR team want to learn more about communicating on social media? Share what you do with your coworkers and ask to learn about what they do. If multiple people in the office are familiar with WordPress, they can step up and temporarily run the blog when the content manager leaves. The added bonus is that everyone in the office increases their skill set.
“Organized chaos” may have worked for you during your time at the company, but the next person in your position will only see the chaos. Take this time to clean up folders and Google docs, recycle papers that have no value anymore and file everything into its proper place. Many marketers have complained about inheriting a mess from the previous person, leave your space spotless.
If your content manager runs the company’s social media channels, there’s the danger of a huge span of time passing without updates. They have been the social voice of the company for as long as they have been there and without them communication could cease.
Try to find someone who is equally suited to represent the company’s voice (like a PR person) and work to get them settled on the social media channels. Fans notice when very active social accounts suddenly go silent.
If you’re unable to find someone to adopt the social channels in your absence, schedule a few posts to go out over the coming weeks. It’s less than ideal, but auto-posting might be a better option than prolonged silence.
If you have been managing accounts with your company email address (email blast accounts, survey accounts, analytics accounts, etc.) you will want to change the usernames before you leave. Your email will probably be deactivated and those accounts will become inaccessible. You want to either create an email specifically for log-ins (contentmanager@companyname) or use a temporary address before the next person comes on.
Also use this time to unsubscribe from newsletters or change your address to your personal email, and change the email any personal accounts you may have created. For example, if your Amazon account was created with your work email, you will want to change it to your personal one.
Transitioning guest authors or media contacts is a delicate process for both the contributors and the new editor. The departing manager should send an email to the regular contributors thanking them for their work and giving information on how to contact the new person.
You may not have time to personally reach out to everyone with the news that you’re changing jobs, but they all need to know who to contact moving forward.
Even if you leave your files, contacts and passwords perfectly organized, your boss or your replacement will still have questions about where certain things are and how they are done. Consider leaving your personal number or new work number so they can call and ask what the Twitter password is, where the pink paperclips are, or any other conundrum they will inevitably face.
Some companies take three days to hire a new employee, others take six months. In between the gap of hiring and training the new team member make sure the blog is staying fresh. If your company posts once a week, work together as a team to create and publish weekly content. Monthly and weekly contributors will still be sending content, and one team member needs to work with them to edit and post their articles. This is where the cross-training comes in handy.
Even if the previous manager has left social media posts in the queue, the accounts still need to be checked regularly. Find someone who is willing to step up and answer tweets, comments and messages before the replacement is fully on-boarded. Just because the person managing the accounts leaves doesn’t mean the profiles should die.
One of the worst things you can say to a new content manager is, “Well that’s how the person before you did it.” This new team member has taken on the job hoping to use their ideas to make the company better, listen to them and consider doing things their way. If what the new manager wants to do is impossible, explain why that can’t be done instead of asking them to conform to exactly what the previous person did and how they did it.
By taking care of simple organization and process documentation from the beginning, you’ll save yourself and your company a lot of pain and suffering later on. Take the time to knock out the tasks now, while it’s easy, rather than when your back is against the wall after a staff change. That way you’ll be in the best position to adapt to any situation and guarantee continued success for your blog no matter what happens.
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