Forbes – Leadership: Not Sure What To Do After Losing An Employee? 12 Steps To Make The Transition Seamless


It is difficult enough to find and actually hire the right employee, but then comes figuring out how to transition work from one employee to another when someone leaves. If the new hire is replacing someone that is still with the company for a few more weeks, then you have time to figure out how they might be able to work together—but what if that employee has already left?

Without a proper plan in place, you may end up leaving your new employee scrambling to catch up, starting them off on the wrong foot from the get-go. However, there are many ways to make the transition process less daunting, so we’ve asked 12 experts from Forbes Human Resources Council to share their best suggestions.

Forbes Human Resources Council members share their best tips for transitioning work to a new hire after an employee exit.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Cross-Train Employees




It is crucial to cross-train staff. Not only does this prevent issues when people leave, but it is also a great development and recognition tool. If knowledge of something is only with one person, you increase your risk of issues. – Lotus Buckner, NCH

2. Utilize Shadowing

Shadowing is a great method to train people fast. The new employee gets to learn on the job by observing, being a part of real meetings, watching the interaction between people, learning the process and meeting people involved. This strategy also exposes the employee to the process and what needs to be done—and gives them the ability to use their creativity to make it better. – Abhijeet Narvekar, The FerVID Group


3. Communicate And Work Together

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Perform an HR audit prior to hiring. Consult key managers and staff for their concerns and ideas. In the interview process, make the candidate aware of transitional challenges. When HR, management and employees work together to refashion a process, it alleviates employee fear of change, supports the new hire’s success and increases retention rates. The end result is a smooth evolution of responsibilities. – Patricia Sharkey, Sharkey HR Advisors






4. Document Everything

When it comes to knowledge management or transfer, documentation is key. Checklists, workflows and directories will help make information readily available for all. Managers should build these processes into their succession plans to lower the learning curve when transitioning work from one employee to another, which will ultimately make this evolution of responsibilities as seamless as possible. – Dr. Timothy J. Giardino, Cantata Health & Meta Healthcare IT Solutions

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

5. Shift Work Internally

Exits of employees create opportunities to shift work across teams and drive development. Rather than passing work from an outgoing person to an incoming person, shake things up and get the entire team engaged in taking on new and different work and have everyone participate in getting the new person up to speed. Ultimately, it drives better collaboration and engagement. – Diane Strohfus, Betterworks.com

6. Don’t ‘Dump And Run’

When work is moving from one employee to another, outstanding work can be left in disrepair. Managers should prioritize accordingly and provide training and resources as needed. While it may seem like a good idea to bring on a short-term team member to fight fires, employees will be happier and more engaged long term if eased into a role knowing they’re set up for success. – Stacey Browning, Paycor

7. Establish A Succession Plan In Advance

First, ensuring a proper succession plan is in place will take the guesswork out of who should assume an employee’s responsibilities upon his or her departure from the company. Second, training successors on the employee’s job duties in advance will not only make the transition smoother if the employee leaves, but can help in distributing an even workload during the normal course of business. – John Feldmann, Insperity

8. Identify A Trainer And Assign A Buddy




When onboarding a new employee, having multiple people committed to their success is key. There should be an identified trainer responsible for process documentation—the key to a successful and quick integration into their new role. They should be assigned a buddy or partner who can informally help them to integrate into the organization. The manager should quarterback the process. – Sherrie Suski, Tricon American Homes




9. Create And Update Standard Operating Procedures

Managers should take their own training notes to develop a standard operating procedure manual. As they train new employees, they should build on these notes, create checklists and continuously document their trainings. This will give more structure and confidence in transitioning a new employee into the position. – Tiffany Jensen, Pure Grips




10. Foster Close Relationships

If you create a culture that fosters mutual respect and connection between team members, you are more likely to have departing employees who are empathetic to the burden their exit places on the rest of the team. Close relationships often result in employees providing more advanced notice and being more open to creative solutions that will not leave their teammates in a bind. – Jeff Buenrostro, Metric Theory

11. Don’t Stifle Growth Opportunities

Good managers develop their team members. Done properly, this is a proactive process that includes transition planning. I’ve seen leaders avoid cross-training and documentation because they want to “keep” talented individuals. Managers have to remember that stifling growth opportunities will only ensure that the person looks for a new role outside the organization instead of within it. – Teresa Martins, Madison Logic




12. Plan A Road Map

Microsoft APAC

Effective onboarding breaks down potential obstacles and gives new hires a solid road map for what lies ahead. Write out what to expect during the first 30 to 90 days and include specific training sessions, introductory meetings with key leaders and peers or workspace organization. Assign all new hires a “work buddy” for at least two months to help reduce stress and strengthen engagement. – Cameron Bishop, SkillPath

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Source: forbes.com

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