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As a project manager, you invest a significant amount of time selecting the right team members for your projects, and getting those team members up to speed on the specific requirements of each project. As the project continues, you work with team members on a regular basis to make sure that they are getting their assignments done and are getting the support they need. After putting in so much time and effort as team members join and work on your teams, it’s important to remember that you also have a specific set of responsibilities when team members leave your projects, too.

what to do when someone leaves your project

Managing a team at the enterprise level involves an almost constant stream of team members joining and departing. Hopefully, most of the departures are planned, and are happening when team members have completed their work. In some cases, of course, employees leave because they have taken other jobs or are unable to do their project work as expected. Whatever the circumstances, you can make the most of a team member’s departure by following these steps.

#1. Debrief the Team Member

Even if you’ve been keeping a close eye on task completion and progress throughout the project, take the time to have a formal discussion with any departing team member so that you can find out exactly what he or she has completed, and what tasks may still need work. You can also use this meeting to get feedback from the employee on how he or she felt about project communications and collaboration.

Obviously, debriefing may not be possible in cases of project abandonment, when a team member leaves the company or project without warning. When this happens, you may need to do some detective work to figure out what exactly the team member did or failed to do. Using cloud-based project management software like Clarizen can take the difficulty out of this process, as project templates, documents and other information are always stored in a centralized location that can be accessed by all.

#2. Facilitate Knowledge Transfer

Once a team member has moved on, you need to pass along any information you’ve gained in the debriefing session to the rest of the team. Here again, Clarizen can streamline the process, allowing you to make any notes or work documents available to the entire team in real time. If you notice any gaps or holes in personnel, you should take this time to start thinking about a temporary replacement for the individual that has left until you’re able to find someone new to take their place permanently.

#3. Acknowledge the Team Member’s Contributions

Hopefully, you’ve demonstrated good leadership skills by providing positive feedback to your team on a regular basis. Even so, you can boost team morale—and build stronger relationships for future projects—by taking a moment to thank the departing team member for his or her work on the project. Even a simple “thank you” email can create goodwill with the former team member and build engagement among the rest of the team.

#4. Review the Project Plan with the Remaining Team Members

Team member departures are usually associated with project milestones, like the completion of major tasks, so this is a good time to sit down (virtually or in person) with your remaining team members and look at the plan for the weeks and months ahead. If any other team members are scheduled to leave to project in the near future, pay extra attention to the tasks they still need to complete.

Angela Bunner
Angela Bunner, VP of Solutions Engineering