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How to Offboard as an Engineering Leader

Unlock everything you need to know about leaving or offboarding as an engineering leader, including the steps to take before offboarding.

By Hannah Ross  •   November 21, 2022  •   6 min read

Many people fail to recognize the importance of a proper offboarding process. Chances are, if you’re an engineering leader, you’ve made deep connections and formed real working relationships at your workplace. No matter what your reason is for leaving, it’s important that you take the time to part ways properly. While you may be familiar with the benefits of hosting one last one-on-one or holding office hours that allow your teammates to drop in and chat before your departure, you may not have considered the actual impact your departure will have. 

Taking the time to document your processes, share any and all pertinent information, and ensure your teammates are set up to thrive after you’ve left is imperative. You don’t want to leave abruptly or leave any stone unturned. In this article, we’ll dive into the details and teach you everything you need to know about offboarding and empowering your team to function seamlessly after you’ve left. We’ll also cover the importance of offboarding properly and detail the steps that must be taken before offboarding as an engineering leader. 

What is offboarding?

Offboarding is the opposite of onboarding. While onboarding refers to the practice of bringing a new team member into an organization, offboarding refers to the practice of parting ways with an employee. The practice of offboarding involves the separation of an employee from an organization and covers all steps necessary to successfully part ways with an employee following their resignation or termination. There are multiple steps that should be taken during offboarding, with two of the most important being an exit interview and a knowledge transfer. It’s important that both parties part amicably, and it’s equally important that the employee in question take the time to provide the organization with any knowledge, information, or assets the organization may need to proceed after the employee’s time with the company has ended. 

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Steps to take before offboarding as an engineering leader 

1Leave on a good note

While it can be difficult to end things on good terms, it’s extremely important that both parties part ways amicably. No matter how you feel at the time of your departure, it’s important to focus on the positives and do your best to leave everything on a good note. You never know when you may need a reference or when you may have the opportunity to work with some of the same people in the future. 

2Give adequate notice 

As an engineering leader, you possess a great deal of responsibility. If you plan to terminate your position and move on from your organization, it’s important that you provide ample notice. Not only is providing notice customary and mandatory in some scenarios, but it also demonstrates respect and gratitude. It’s important that your team feels equipped to handle your departure rather than feeling shocked, surprised, or abandoned. 

3Prepare for a gradual leave 

There’s nothing worse than being blindsided. As an engineering leader within your organization, one of the worst things you can do is leave your team stranded and move on without first laying the groundwork for their success after you’ve left. Preparing a gradual leave will ensure your teammates aren’t left with a sour taste in their mouths while also ensuring they have the time necessary to get back on their feet before you leave. 

Why is proper offboarding important for an engineering leader? 

1Maintaining relationships

Building and maintaining professional relationships will make it possible for you to demonstrate your credibility, professionalism, and non-technical skills and qualities; however, building these relationships can be difficult. You never know when you may run into a colleague in the future or need a reference from your superior, which is why it’s important to preserve your professional relationships when you move on. Taking the time to offboard correctly will ensure you’re able to keep your working relationships intact when you leave your organization. 

2Maintaining your reputation 

If you’re an engineering leader, you’ve most likely spent the majority of your career working towards this role. Obtaining a prestigious leadership role doesn’t happen overnight; it takes years of diligent work, relationship building, and relevant work and people management experience. Failing to offboard correctly may ultimately damage the reputation that you’ve taken years to build. Your reputation will precede you and follow you around for years to come, and leaving abruptly or failing to properly equip your peers for your departure may damage it. 

How to offboard as an engineering leader 

1Plan the rest of your time

When you know you’re leaving, every day matters. It’s important that you plan your days meticulously to ensure your organization is in good shape when you leave. There are numerous responsibilities you should handle before your departure, including meeting with all of your teammates, sharing all of your knowledge, and making sure everyone has access to any projects or working documents to which you may have contributed. Planning the rest of your time will ensure you have ample opportunity to tie up any loose ends before your last day. 

2Have a communication plan 

Communication is key, and creating a communication plan will ensure all key stakeholders are well-informed and on the same page. This policy-driven approach will ensure all key stakeholders are provided with updated information pertaining to any project obstacles, goals, or objectives. 

3Document your knowledge 

Just because you’re leaving doesn’t mean that all of your hard work has to go out the window. Taking the time to document your processes, key decisions, or promotional details will ensure your legacy lives on when you leave. Not only that, but your teammates will also feel empowered to fill in once you’re gone.

4Stop taking on projects 

While you may still want to be involved, it’s important that you stop taking on projects when you know you’re going to be leaving. You should take this time to delegate tasks and get things in order for when you leave. Instead of taking on new projects, you should be focusing on documenting your processes and making sure your peers have what they need to succeed in your absence. 

5Host office hours for your team

Before you leave, it’s important to touch base with everyone on your team. Hosting office hours will ensure everyone has the opportunity to drop in and chat before your departure. Even if all of your teammates ultimately don’t have the opportunity to drop in, they will at least feel as though the option was there. It’s important that you take the time to express your gratitude for your time together and keep your working relationships intact. Hosting office hours will make sure you have the opportunity to connect with your peers one last time. 

6Participate in an exit interview 

Exit interviews provide organizations with the opportunity to make internal improvements. Taking the time to complete an exit interview will provide HR with the opportunity to gain additional insights from your time at the organization that may be beneficial for current and future employees. These insights make it possible for senior leadership to gain a deeper understanding of how they can improve, where they went wrong, or what they did well. 

Your HR department will usually be responsible for initiating the exit interview. While this interview possesses an excellent opportunity for your employer to unlock insights, it can also be a great opportunity for you to ask questions regarding your overall performance. If your HR department has initiated the first steps for an exit interview, you may want to consider reaching out to your superior to express your interest. 

Try this free exit interview meeting template:

Offboarding as an engineering leader

Keeping your relationships and reputation intact when offboarding as an engineering leader is extremely important. If you don’t take the time to offboard correctly, you may run the risk of damaging the relationships or reputation you’ve built at your workplace. While you may be excited to move on or jump into your next big challenge, it’s important that you first take the time to create a proper offboarding plan.

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