22 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
When your best employee gives 2 weeks’ notice
By Cynthia J. Young
Other than momentary panic, what
should managers do when their best
employee gives two weeks’ notice? As-
suming nothing changes their mind, the
company has a lot to do and a short time
to do it. This is also assuming the per-
son leaving is available for these discus-
sions and your company does not have
a standard process in place for gathering
employee knowledge before their depar-
Determine all people, processes
and technology your employee uses
or interacts with. This step may in-
clude employees they work with
internally or customers. Ask what
processes the outgoing employee
used when doing any of their work
and if there is specific knowledge
required. Ask if these processes were
required to support their customer
Outside of the common office
technology the employee uses, what
other technology is used? Does it require
any training? This is important since you
will need to fully understand what expe-
rience a temporary fill-in would need to
be able to use to maintain standards the
outgoing employee supported.
Sit with the departing employ-
ee and note every responsibility
and associated due date identify-
ing whether they are recurring or
one-time. At a minimum, determine
contract deliverables, internal meeting
requirements, internal reports, legal or
policy-driven items and any associated
ad hoc tasks. Identify the fill-in person
taking over these tasks and responsi-
bilities until a new employee is hired.
In addition to getting the data and in-
formation, get all required passwords or
physical keys, request all emails and, if
the departing employee had any direct
reports, determine everything associated
with their management responsibilities
so those people are taken care of.
Assign the person or people iden-
tied to temporarily fill the gap to
meet with the departing employee
and turn over tacit and explicit
knowledge. This is the most important
step of this process since it cant be done
after the employee leaves. Everything
else can be determined through read-
ing contracts and paperwork, talking to
team members or other employees, or by
talking to the customers.
The departing employee’s tacit knowl-
edge includes any experiences with the
task, customer or internal relationships.
Start with open-ended questions that
will be supported by the conversation.
Basically, ask them to talk about any ex-
perience they have gained in the job they
have determined is important or useful
to know in the execution of their duties
and responsibilities. Gaining the tacit
knowledge will also provide opportu-
nities to learn the nuances of the work
the employee does and the opportunity
to find out the whys and wherefores that
arent attainable through other turnover
Explicit knowledge is written and
should be accessible to employees
throughout an organization. This should
include any directions, guidance or les-
sons learned that are documented and
the location of any processes used or
created. There will be follow-on ques-
tions; however, answers should be easier
to gather since experiential knowl-
edge is more difficult to share.
Standardize the employee
turnover process. To protect your
organization, you should consider a
standardized knowledge manage-
ment process to address employee
departures. This standardized pro-
cess can also be used when moving
personnel to other company positions
or when you have personnel who have
emergencies that result in a gap in cover-
age. Remember, employees can quit any
time and are not required to give any no-
tice before leaving.
Cynthia J. Young, DBA, is founder and
CEO of CJ Young Consulting, LLC, and
the lead for certification and training with Lei-
dos in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She retired
as a Surface Warfare Ofcer with 23 years in
the U.S. Navy and holds professional certifi-
cations as a PMP, LSSMBB and CMQ/
OE. She is an IISE member. Contact her at
Gaining the tacit knowledge
will also provide opportunities
to learn the nuances of the
work the employee does.