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Transition on My Mind: What I’m Doing to Prepare

On the heels of the 2020 election, transition is on many minds. How will the new administration govern?

For the last few months, I have also thought about what transition will look like once I leave the governor’s office that I currently work for. In a year, a new governor will be elected and transition will be heavy in the minds of the winning campaign.

Transition is not an immediate action. It takes time to ease from old processes to new ones. Here are some ways I am preparing for a smooth transition as someone who will be departing an administration. These might also help you as you transition out of a role or office.

Writing Training Documents

Earlier this summer, our leadership team was tasked with collecting training materials together in one place. I realized that over the last few years, I had written a number of documents to help during the training process of new staff. While some documents needed updating, the framework for navigating our work was there.

Writing training documents, manuals, standard operating procedures, etc., is an exercise that takes time. If you’re interested in putting something together for the next person who takes over (whenever that might be), I recommend carving out some time throughout the month to make it more manageable. For the upcoming year, I aim to combine all of the loose documents into one comprehensive manual before I depart.

Embracing Creativity and Innovation

Each week, I ask my staff, “Is there something we can do better?” This question implies that we shouldn’t be content with how things are but should challenge ourselves to think outside the box for creative solutions. I’m happy to say that the job I do now looks different than when I first started. We have made improvements in our database, made our processes more efficient and found new ways to engage our constituents. Embracing creativity and innovation is an important exercise to continue to look at the work through a different lens. This will help the new administration adopt a creative approach, rather than an approach built on “well, that’s just the way things are done.”


Archiving or organizing documents, templates, e-mails, etc., is an important part of leaving things in their place for the next person. While some documents might not make it in the training manual, having a central location that provides historical knowledge is key for any transition. Label folders well and date them as needed. Organize files in a way that others will easily be able to locate them.

Positive Outlook

At the end of the day, I want the next person who takes over my role to be successful. While political parties might divide people, administrations have to bring them together. I know my preparation will help the next person ease into the work more effectively. It’s not about who takes over next but the people we serve. They deserve a smooth transition and I, who currently hold the role, should do everything to support that.

How are you helping the transition process at your work? Drop your tips down below in the comments.

You might also be interested in GovLoop’s Transition Notebook: What Political Appointees and Career Civil Servants Do to Assure a Successful Transition, Successfully Leading Through Transitions, Making Decisions in a Time of Transition, and Making Decisions in a Time of Transition (Part II).

Maribel Castañeda currently serves at the pleasure of Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam as the Director of Appointments in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Office. She facilitates the appointment process for over 300 state boards and commissions or about 800 appointments each year. She bridges communication between constituents, state agencies, Governor’s Cabinet and organizations who want to share a voice in their government. Her vision is to have each board and commission reflect the Virginia that exists today. Maribel also serves as the Director of Latino Outreach connecting the Hispanic and Latino community to resources and services.

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Avatar photo Pearl Kim

Love this line: While political parties might divide people, administrations have to bring them together. It encaptures public service well!