When Your Go-To-Person is Gone!

Written by: Ryan McShane

Are you prepared if your “go-to employee” leaves?

We all have them – a go-to-person in our organization. You know the one.  We call on them when no one else can (get ‘r done) and when we need it done yesterday.  And… we do this often.

So, what happens when your “go-to” is gone? When he or she has decided to retire or move to greener pastures?

This is the nightmare companies are now beginning to face, whether due to a down economy and subsequent lay offs or through baby boomer retirements.

Either way, it is happening. Companies are left wondering who they are going to “go-to” now.  Poor economy or not, we cannot leave our customers waiting.

A few years ago, we recognized that most persons at the Administrative table and other levels of senior management had a number of years invested in the organization; they were of the Boomer or Veteran Generations.

Our concern turned to alarm after crunching the numbers.  In an organization of 230, 76 were eligible to retire within 5-10 years.  Of the 76, 80% were in management and upper-level management positions.

We had to reexamine everything!  Our recruiting and retention plan, our career and personal development systems, and our policies and procedures. Were they still serving us?

We knew the answer and it was an emphatic, NO!  We weren’t equipped.  But, not too much later, we were.  You see, this was a golden opportunity and we were fortunate enough to recognize it as such.

Within 12 months, the Agency had a knowledge management system in place, an internal coaching program, cross-training program, learning committee, and a recruitment/retention structure yielding goal and outcome oriented human resources.

As much as we would like to keep the “go-to” from going, we have to face reality.  These star people are eventually going to go. Their departure is just a matter of time.  The question is do we have the systems in place to maximize their potential, grow our bottom line and capture their institutional knowledge before they leave?

Ryan McShane is the Human Resources Officer for Baltimore County Department of Aging where he has created and implemented various Human Resource Development programs such as Knowledge Management, Knowledge Management for Project Management, The Continuous Learning Committee (CLC), career coaching and many other organizational development initiatives. Ryan is passionate about creating learning and workforce development initiatives that drive organizations to achieve their business potential through human capital.