Today, we're diving into the important steps you should take to transform the departure of some core people to your business from a catastrophe into an opportunity for growth. This is the Practicing Leader Podcast. I am your host, Parul Bhargava, and let's discuss.
There are many reasons why you could be in this situation. Someone could have been promoted. Someone could have found a new job. Maybe they need to focus on finishing their degree and they can't dedicate as much time to the job, or maybe they just won the lottery. You never know. You have a limited time to be able to make the best of the situation.
And you need to make whatever you can of the time that you have. If you have more time, that's great. If you have less time, time to get sprinting. First things first, assess how big of an issue it actually is. What are the immediate impacts as well as are there any projects pending and deadlines that are looming?
Things that are about to come due. This is where, for example, if you have somebody in customer service that's leaving and they're running your fill this gap that you now are going to have, the next step is to figure out how bad is it? Are you missing documentation? Do you need to put together training sessions?
Do you need to go through and do a bunch of preparation in order to be able to make sure folks are prepared to be able to pick up the work in that in absence of someone being put in place immediately? How do you make sure that the business continues working the way it's supposed to continue working?
Whenever possible, work with the subject matter expert to document critical information before their departure. Set up lunch and learn sessions where other team members can learn from the subject matter expert as well. And if you have the opportunity, record those training sessions for future reference.
You're going to want to be able to go back to those later on to be able to see, what was that tidbit or that golden nugget that they dropped that I wish I knew now? That we can go back to those recordings and listen to them. Next, who can help? Do you need to identify the pinch hitters within your team to figure out who can pick up the slack and remember folks?
Ruthlessness is key here And this is where i'm talking about ruthlessness and prioritization And making sure that you're selecting and choosing those things that are critical to the business And making sure the right decisions are being made If you have peers in your organization or in your company or in your, or in your business, don't hesitate to ask for help from your peers, make sure that you're building that relationship with your peers, where you can have that request and it's not looked at as like, Hey, why are you asking for stuff from me?
Have the conversation to help make sure that you can patch over this small wave and make sure that you get to the other side without any issues. Moving on. Now, who can take over? Here's where you play the talent scout. Look deep within your own ranks, and you might be surprised who's ready to step up for a challenge.
And remember, sometimes the best candidates are hiding in plain sight. Do a review of your current talent roster. And this is irrespective of where they're assigned today. They may be assigned to a piece of work today that's also critical. But you may decide that it's less critical than the piece that just got vacated.
If there's anyone that's voiced interest in more responsibility or in a new space, this also might be an opportunity for them to grow into this work. Don't forget, there are tons of people who could be capable of doing the job if you look beyond those who you know. And this is where it's important. If you're going to be looking outside your company, outside of your group, Look and make sure that you're going and doing honest assessment to figure out is there somebody else that could help us do this work and do it effectively.
Communication, communication, communication. This is essential. Ensure everyone who's affected by the departure is notified. And if the subject matter expert had a team, it's time for some heart to heart discussions and other open methods for receiving feedback from the team. You may have lost somebody that was filling a role, but those folks may have lost somebody that was their role model.
Some other things to consider about communication is if a process is being run. Take the time to analyze and identify opportunities for efficiency. Simply be open minded and think about what exactly are the opportunities and evaluate them on an objective basis. If you do end up changing something, again, communication is critical, and make sure that you let all your constituents know about the change.
Next, risky business. How risky is your plan? You need to consider the possible pitfalls. What could go wrong? Who do you have in the wings for succession planning? And are you considering cross training? As an example, does anything about how your business run depend on this individual? And what risks are no longer mitigated by their departure?
This is one of those things where you're looking for the empty space where somebody was filling a role that you didn't know that they were filling, and now all of a sudden there's a gap that you're not aware of. Are there risks now that have now graduated to being full blown issues with their departure?
Are there things now that have become so large that now they require additional attention? After assigning somebody, and after you've identified an individual to take over the role, what's your risk mitigation plan for them leaving? I know it might be early since you just assigned them, but consider succession planning as early as possible.
Placing somebody capable because they were on the bench and they're ready is great, but what do you do if you don't have that? The last question here is, are there other roles that are in a similar situation and do you have a possibility for a perfect storm where one or multiple individuals could leave and resulting in a similar cascading effect as you're considering the risks, you need to watch the rest like a hawk.
You just made a bunch of changes now watch closely for anything which may appear off track. You may have given wide discretion to the person who was in that role. That discretion does not apply to the role, it applied to the person. Consider this new person is going through the stages of situational leadership, where they're learning a new space.
Help them figure out what to do different in different circumstances, and figure out the language of how they ask for help. Because that's going to be critical to make sure that you're there and ready to help them when they ask. Lastly, do your own retrospective. What did you learn? What could you've done differently?
And also consider what could you've done differently and when you could, you have done it. Consider, could I have affected a different change? If I had started a process six months ago or three months ago or three weeks ago, consider these things in different time windows to see. Is there an opportunity for improvement in the manner in which it's being handled and see is there a way for you to be able to be better at making sure you're ready for succession planning and making sure that you've got a bench set up for each of the critical roles in your business.
And that's a wrap. Losing a subject matter expert can be tough, but it doesn't have to be the end of the world. With careful planning and execution, your business can continue to thrive. So keep your head high, your spirit strong and your coffee even stronger.