HR Management & Compliance

How Long Should Transitioning Employees Support Their Old Role?

Managers know that employee personnel assignments are rarely static. Business needs and staffing availability can change frequently, and businesses need the flexibility to move personnel into new roles. Sometimes, this involves hiring a new employee, but often, it involves a promotion or lateral movement for an existing employee.


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Whenever there is a role transition internally, employers benefit from having the employee who is transitioning out of a role available to assist the employee transitioning into a role by answering questions, providing guidance, and sharing experience.
At the same time, employers need to be careful they don’t let the transition period draw out too long because there can be potential negative impacts on all involved. Here’s why:

Employee Transitioning Out

Although employees transitioning out of a role can be a great resource for the people taking their place, they have a new job to do. As Helios HR notes, employees transitioning into new roles should expect to spend some time engaged with both roles, but that time can’t be too drawn out.
There’s nothing wrong with asking departing employees to help transition in new employees; however, you want the employees moving to a new role to be able to put their best foot forward and be dedicated to their new role rather than having one foot in their old role for a prolonged period of time.

Employee Transitioning In

Similarly, the employee moving into a new role can benefit from the guidance of his or her predecessor; however, you don’t want new employees to over-rely on their predecessors and potentially stunt their growth in the new role. At some point, they need to be able to stand on their own two feet.

The Rest of the Team

Finally, the rest of the team—whether subordinates, superiors, or team members at the same level—needs to have clarity on who is responsible for the position. Confusion over who has responsibility for certain tasks can sap the productivity of the team.
Having internal staff available to take on new roles can have many advantages over traditional hiring methods. At the same time, it’s important that employers don’t let the transition process drag out too long, as this can negatively impact the employee transitioning out, the employee transitioning, and, in fact, the rest of the team or organization.

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