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Avoid “Brain Drain” When Key Employees Depart

Sooner or later it will happen, one of your key employees will depart your firm either voluntarily or….involuntarily. This is the moment when every company experiences “brain drain” by losing the valuable “head knowledge” a key employee retains on procedures, customers, day-to-day operations, etc.

By creating a deliberate and preventive process to extract and record valuable knowledge your departing employee may have retain during their term with your company, you’ll make the transition to a new employee much easier for you and the replacement employee.

Here are some ideas to protect the knowledge your departing employee has retained about your business operations:

Employee “Off-Boarding” Interview
What might have been called an “Exit Interview” can be more accurately termed as an Off-Boarding Interview”. This process entails meeting with the employee to discuss their departure, but especially to discuss projects they’re working on, processes they are using that may not be documented and basically to ascertain their general knowledge of their position so you can ensure you don’t “drop any balls” when they leave.

Job Shadowing
Job shadowing is exactly what it sounds, like, you, an employee or the replacement employee would literally shadow the exiting employee as he/she goes through the paces of their daily job to learn the details of what they do, and how they do it. Maybe just a few days is all that is needed to transfer valuable knowledge.

Video Recording
Video recording is a high-tech way to understand the job your exiting employee is doing, whether it is on screen, in the shop or in the field. Creating video documentation of a departing employee provides a permanent record of their job function even when you may not have the time to hire a replacement.

Before an Employee Leaves
As an ongoing policy, every business should proactively manage knowledge, and take steps to ensure that key employees that have exclusive knowledge about a particular segment of your company document their knowledge and cross train with other individuals. Creating a procedures manual is only have the story, making sure the employee documents everything from passwords, to procedures, to special processes and relationships.

Don’t get left hanging when a key employee leaves, take the time out to ensure your internal processes and knowledge don’t leave with them.

For more information, contact Champion at

  • 21 Oct, 2014
  • Tom Elias

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