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CIO Journal: Executing a professional exit

In this installment of our CIO Journal, a tech leader describes the mixed emotions he's grappling with as he begins to transition out of a role he's held for three years. Find out why he believes it's vital to make a professional and, yes, graceful exit.


By Joseph “Jody” Harris

This week, CIO Republic begins the workweek journal of CIO Joseph “Jody” Harris. In this first of five journal installments, Harris describes the first day of his final week as CIO with Camelot Healthcare.

The week promises to be a melancholy mix of transitioning his responsibilities to other staff and boding farewell to colleagues as he leaves his role at Camelot to begin another CIO position within a week or so. Harris’ first journal entry is a rare glimpse of how IT executives should approach and conduct a professional exit.

Joseph Harris


A unique perspective

 


When I initially agreed to write a weekly journal for CIO Republic in mid-March, the focus was a "week in the life of a CIO." I did not know at the time that my journal entries would actually end up describing my last week as CIO at Camelot HealthCare, a seven-year-old Louisiana healthcare management and consulting firm.

My CIO role has been challenging these past three years, but that is the case with start-up companies.

I have known for some time that the company would not be able to continue to support executive management in IT. Camelot HealthCare has been losing facilities—they have sold all of their nursing homes and lost management contracts for those they did not own. This, combined with a downturn in profits from hospital clients, drastically impacted cash flow.

The reduction in supported facilities impacted the number of employees needed and thus impacted the IT staffing. Due to the reduced size of Camelot HealthCare, our IT staff was cut down to three and will be just two when I leave. The current network administrator will now assume the role of IT manager, and the manager of field operations is basically the field technician.

And even though I knew that it would eventually lead to my departure, it still is surprising to face that truth head on. I faced the reality a few weeks ago when I met with my CEO to learn I was being laid off. This meeting was basically the CEO’s agenda, and he controlled its direction. The CEO graciously provided a generous severance package for my resignation, which I accepted.

I believe that any and all experiences can have value and that how we handle ourselves through these experiences is what determines our true value as human beings. The CEO had a tough decision to make and he made it. I have no ill will toward people that do their job.

The proper thing to do now is to provide as much help as I can to allow for a smooth transfer of my soon-to-be ex-fellow staff members. It is the obligation of any employee to do the best job possible right up until he or she walks out the door for the last time.

I think that this is as valuable for the employee as it is for the company. A professional exit helps maintain your emotional stability to focus on your work—you should take pride in your work and do your best, no matter what the circumstances.

It is difficult to remove how you feel from the everyday tasks that need to be done. I am saddened by the fact that I am leaving a place that I am so familiar with and comfortable in. I am disappointed that Camelot HealthCare could not have grown instead of regress. I do not regret my time as CIO, because it has been a great and valuable experience. I have spent the last three years of my life at work and at play with my fellow employees, and I will miss them all.

Monday, 9:30 A.M.: Transition formally begins
I arrived at Camelot HealthCare midmorning after driving into Rayne, LA, from Mobile, AL. The first order of business was meeting with the chief accounting officer to discuss what application would be best to move ahead with for new facilities. We agreed to meet again Thursday morning. I then met with the manager of IT to discuss issues with MS4 application and solutions that need to be implemented.

11:30 A.M.: Working lunch
I have lunch with the manager of IT and manager of field operations. I took this opportunity to recommend that they prepare a list of information that they wish me to provide before my week ends. After lunch, I met with the owner of the new hospital that Camelot will soon manage to discuss services and operations. We established a 1 P.M. meeting for Thursday to evaluate a hospital accounting application. After this meeting, I returned to my office to begin organizing for my departure. I started by removing personal information from my computer and e-mail. (Note: This is also a good time to forward e-mail information that could be beneficial in a future position to a personal home e-mail address or print it out for reference.) On an ethical note, no one should take information that belongs to the company, nor should you destroy information that you created. The information is company property. The destruction of company property could be considered unlawful, and the company could press charges.

I also began organizing documentation so that the manager of IT could find things easily. I organized research on a new accounting application for hospitals as well.

3 P.M.: E-mail glitch pops up
I put aside the organizational efforts and work alongside the IT manager to solve an e-mail issue that has cropped up. After it’s resolved, I return to the organizational tasks to get things in order for my approaching departure. I leave the office at 5 P.M. and head home.

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