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I have a team member that is actively persuing a new position within our company. She is a good (not great) performer and I have been expecting her to move on as she thinks she has outgrown (or is bored with) her job duties. I just received a call from the hiring manager checking in on her references. I assume worst case is that she will be leaving my team right after the first of the year.

Her position is currently not documented and is absolutely critical to our business. Basically, she has a lot of knowledge in her head that none of our other team members have.

Even though she hasn't given official "notice" that she is leaving, are there limits to how much preparing I should do? Can I have another team member (or myself) job shadow her and document the steps to her position? Can I move some of her duties to another team member today, to enable quick cross-training?

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you

pmoriarty's picture

Meet with her face to face. Since the hiring manager has already called you for a reference, it's no secret that she's looking for another job. Have a frank discussion with her about why she wants to leave. If there are things you can change to make her current position more attractive to her, do it. It will be easier than hiring her replacement.

If she's committed to leaving, then ask her to start documenting her duties and start planning the transition. This can include shifting her current duties to other team members an/or having somebody shadow her.

Good luck!

WillDuke's picture

I don't intend to be harsh, but let's get real here. Clearly you think this person has a critical function in your department. It's also pretty clear that you don't like her. You haven't prepared for the eventuality of this unappreciated direct seeking greener pastures.

Okay, that's the past. It doesn't matter now.

If you don't have an outright hostile relationship you're probably not in bad shape. But you do need her help. I'd call her in and talk to her. Her desire to move to another position is an elephant in the room and there's no reason to deny its existence. She knows how important she is. Get her help in preparing for transition. Heck, it might even make her feel appreciated and improve your relationship.

But what if she doesn't get the job? You still need to get this information out of her head. You still need succession planning. What if she got hit by a bus tomorrow?

Finally, get One-on-One meetings started - with EVERYONE. You don't want to be seen as singling anyone out. My guess is that you're not doing them yet. 30 minutes a week isn't much to spend on your relationship with your directs. It will pay off in ways you haven't even imagined yet.

juliahhavener's picture

I think you owe it to her AND your team to cross train others in what she does. It will only improve your entire team's ability to get the right things done.

Get her buy in. It probably won't be as hard as you think - ask her opinion as to who will most easily learn what aspects of her job. I wouldn't try to train one person to replace her - instead I would try to get as much knowledge out of her head and spread across the team as you can. This will give your team continuity. It may also give her relief if she needs support - she wants to go on vacation, she has a big project, now she has some support to leverage in those instances.

I lend my absolute support to my directs who are looking for positions elsewhere in the company, and they know it. My last boss gave me every ounce of her support - and she had more of her employees promoted than any of her peers because of it. Today, she's someone I *still* go to when I need a shoulder, support, or help. Her theory, and one I've adopted as my own, is that the growth of my employees is good for my company. The growth of my company is good for MY growth.

Mark's picture

She works for you. Tell her what you want and when you want it. Start with a ONE DAY deadline for a plan for her to help you or others get up to speed on what she does. Validate the plan, make corrections, and give her daily deliverables.

Okay, that's what to do regarding her work. But I don't mean to imply that it's s forceful directive or conversation. Congratulate her on her impending move, and politely ask her to do this stuff. If she balks, suggest she do so and also tell her that her move is contingent upon it. Inform the gaining manager that you have her transitioning, and will keep him or her posted, but feel good about the plan you and she have come up with, and SHE is saying she can action it by (blank date).

Works every time.

Mark

angelicdoctor's picture

I have some engineers on my new team and almost without exception, the team lead has made known to me as their functional manager that he would like to see that all members are cross trained.  Each team member has their area of expertise and the loss of one or more due to layoff, lateral move, promotion or resignation would be impactful.  I would like to learn more about what would be a Manager Tools approach to putting together a plan for each of these individuals to execute on in order to ensure that the team and the program does not suffer from an immediate loss of a particular skillset needed in order to ensure continued mission success.  Do  you have a product or a podcast that may be helpful in this regard?

Malibu23's picture

Thank you all for your feedback and suggestions. My team member and I have begun documenting the entire process of the critical piece of her role. She has been really good about this process as she knows it has been something that has been needed for a long time. We are finding many more exception processes than I thought, there is a lot of opportunity for simplifying processes.

Thank you

WillDuke's picture

Way to go Malibu. These things aren't usually as bad as we think they're going to be before we do them. I have found that sitting around and dreading a situation is far worse than just jumping in and resolving it. It's one of the reasons I appreciate MT so much, everything is geared to getting started "right now."

And, credit goes to the one in the ring. You did it.

juliahhavener's picture

What Will said - good going!