how to build a stress-free turnover plan

Make Work Suck Less

New this week from the home office

Hey Reader,

My parents used to say growing up that kids ruin everything but Christmas... and I kind of get it now.

Maybe "ruin" is too strong a word for it. You just need to adjust your expectations to deal with a new reality.

Things are not going to go to plan. Someone's going to throw up on the way to Grandma's house. Your car-obsessed toddler will probably enjoy the snacks at the Car Show more than the cars themselves. Going sledding is actually a pain in the ass.

One thing my kid definitely DIDN'T ruin: my career.

But it sure did change.

And for the better. I took on a bigger role, doing work I absolutely loved, building and leading an incredible team. I got real clear on my priorities at work and at home. Established a no-BS calendar blocking system that saved me literally 20 hours each week. I became more patient, understanding, and creative.

All the things.

So this week, we're diving into how to build a turnover plan that will set you and your team up for the kind of success you dream of if and when you decide to return to work from parental leave.

how to build a stress-free parental leave turnover plan

As you're gearing up for parental leave, what’s on your mind these days?

What type of breast pump is best? What car seat is safest? Do I need the fancy, expensive, reactive cradle? Absolutely, yes to that one. Where are we going to fit another kid in this house?

Oh yes, and the daunting task of handing over your work.

I got you.

Let's walk through creating a turnover plan that's stress-free for you and for your team. Having been through this rollercoaster myself, and now going through it again, I promise it's possible to leave your desk without a trail of chaos behind you.

first, know things are going to change

I went out for five solid months in 2021 with my son. By the time I got back, my team had been re-named, our scope had changed, and our organization had gone through two different senior VPs.

Things move fast in business today (especially in tech). Expect everything to shift while you're gone.

And that's ok.

This is your chance for that Career Glow Up I was talking about last week. To evaluate the things in your current scope that no longer serve you or your team's goals. To automate the rote admin work that's crept into your day-to-day. To give a promising colleague an opportunity to expand their skillsets by taking on some of your work. To re-think what you want your career to look like when you decide to go back.

It starts with the turnover.

it’s all about timing

The key? Start early. Like, really early. Don't wait until your bump is impossible to ignore. Use your regular 1:1s with your manager in the 2-3 months leading up to your leave as golden opportunities. Kick off with:

"As I prepare for parental leave, I'd like to start planning for how my responsibilities will be managed. Can we schedule some time to go over this?"

stop, start, continue

This method was my lifesaver, and here’s how it can save you too.

Step 1: List everything. Write down every task and project, no matter how small. Even the things you hate doing (especially those).

Step 2: Categorize each task.

  • Stop: Identify tasks that can be paused, automated, or frankly, are just not worth anyone's time.
  • Start: Dream a little. What new, exciting projects or roles would you love to tackle when you return? Put these under 'Start'.
  • Continue: Pinpoint the tasks crucial to the team's success and think about who could take them on.

Step 3: Discuss with your manager. "I've been thinking about how my responsibilities can be covered. For example, [Task] could be handled by [Colleague]. I know they've been looking to grow in this space. And [Other Task] can be automated to save everyone time going forward. What are your thoughts?"

identify game-changing work

This is where you can really make your mark. Look for opportunities that align with:

  • Business goals: What are the company's upcoming initiatives or pain points? Propose projects that address these.
  • Your strengths and interests: Leverage your unique skills and passions. If you're great at something, chances are you'll excel and enjoy it.
  • Innovation and growth: Consider areas in your company that are ripe for innovation or improvement. Your fresh perspective might be just what's needed.
  • Your career goals: What type of position or work would set you up for long-term success in your career?

Discuss these ideas with your manager. Here are a couple conversation starters:

  • "I've been thinking about [project/role] that aligns with our business goals and my strengths. It could be a great opportunity for me to explore post-leave."
  • "I'm excited about returning to potentially take on [new responsibilities]. Let's explore how this could benefit our team’s goals."

preparing for your grand return

You're not just planning a leave; you're setting the stage for your comeback. Remember, planning your parental leave is not just about ensuring work continues in your absence. It's a unique chance to reassess, realign, and relaunch your career path. This period of career transition is a chance for your Career Glow Up.

build your turnover plan now

I'm sharing my personal Stop, Start, Continue template for you to download. Trust me, it's a game-changer in ensuring you cover all bases without feeling overwhelmed.

cool people doing cool shit

Anessa Fike

My amazing friend Anessa Fike (the Queen of Fractional HR) wrote a book! The Revolution of Work: F*ck the Patriarchy and the Workplace It Built. Out February 2024. Don't miss it.

Hebba Youssef

Join Hebba Youssef's upcoming workshop on Supercharging Performance. Why? She's the genius behind your other favorite newsletter, I Hate It Here, and because I said so.

next week in MWSL

Next week is all about finding company resources outside of HR to support you through this parental leave career transition.

You got this.


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Hi! I'm Cassandra Babilya.

I’m a mom, certified career coach, ex-spy, and corporate culture leader. I'm driven to make work suck less by helping women break the burnout cycle, pivot with purpose, and thrive in their careers. I believe everyone deserves to wake up excited and energized for the day. Together, let's find the perspective you need to work, create, and build from a place of joy, not dread. #makeworksuckless

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