What to do when a key employee quits

Monday, March 24th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

It's a project manager's worst nightmare. You are several weeks into an important project that demands all hands on deck. Critical deadlines are fast approaching. And then, with little or no warning, a key employee gives two weeks' notice.

It can happen for any reason. Maybe a better position elsewhere. Perhaps there was simply no longer any interest in working with your team. If there is nothing you can do to persuade this person to stay, it is time to plan to fill the gap.

A recent article on Forbes offers some tips for this scenario. Since you will have two weeks before this employee leaves for good, you have a little bit of time to develop a transition plan. First, this means creating a list of all daily duties, which can be used to describe the job to a potential replacement. In addition, laying out these activities will make it more clear who on the team could step in and handle them, in case you cannot find a satisfactory replacement in time.

It is also important to have at least one more meeting with the employee to find out if there is any vital information about the job that you should know. People who spend a long time in one position generally accumulate quite a bit of knowledge, and they may not always get around to sharing it with their coworkers or superiors. Before the person walks out the door, it is crucial to perform a thorough debrief.

A sudden departure is but one of many unexpected events that can threaten a project. At New Leaf Project Management, we offer over 200 hours of training to help you develop the skills you need to manage the unexpected on your projects. In addition, our QPM games and white papers are an effective, affordable way to learn while you earn PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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