The ties that bind – or – Not My Problem

I ran into a friend the other day who I hadn’t seen for a while. Last time I talked to him, he’d just started a new job. That was about 4 months ago.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“It would be great if it was just one job,” my friend said.

“What’s up? Is the job bigger than you though it would be?” I asked.

“No. But I’m still getting pulled into my old job. I spend at least 2 days a week on it. They haven’t hired anybody yet, so I still get called when they really need something.”

Hmmmm. My friend’s plight is more common than you might think.

It’s easy to make a clean break when you’re leaving the company (usually); sometimes when you move within a company it’s harder to cut the ties.

Ideally, you’ll be able make hand offs and tie up loose ends in a 2-3 week period before you start your new job.

Sometimes, though, a manager may ask for an extended transition. If this happens, sit down with both your new manager and your old manager and agree to a transition plan. Spell out what you will do in each week of the transition… and make sure that your duties in the old job are diminishing over the course of the transition.

If you’re caught in the same trap my friend is, doing two jobs with no end in sight, take these steps now:

  • If your current manager isn’t aware of what’s going on, meet with him and detail the work your old boss is asking you to do. Explain how it is interfering with your current duties.
  • Your current manager may support you in cutting the ties right now. Have your manager communicate that to the previous manager. Next time a request comes from the old manager, tell him/her that your manager has clarified your priorities, and you cannot accommodate his request. If he pushes, refer him to your manager.
  • If your current manager sees a reason to prolong the transition, set up a meeting with both the old and new boss and arrange a *very short* transition. Write out what duties you will do, what you won’t do, and the maximum amount of time you will put into your previous job.
  • At the end of the transition, stop doing work for the old manager. It’s not your problem.