Ideas into Action.

How to use this page

You’ll find actionable resources here. We’ve designed them to be copy/paste, print, and forward friendly. We wish you luck in taking action to understand and value the institutional knowledge your team possesses. Let us know if we can ever be of further assistance.

Agenda for 30 Minute Role Consolidation Discussion

Copy / Paste / Edit the guide below to set up a productive conversation with one of your key performers. Pay attention to italicized phrases. You’ll need to modify those.

Dear name

I want to meet with you because I’m interested in learning how things are going since the customize with your phrasing of “restructuring”, “layoffs”, “new responsibilities.” It occurred to me that not only did you take on new tasks (which are going well by the way), but you’ve probably gained new working relationships and even a new perspective on the organization. Those are just as important as the tasks, and I would like to learn about them from you.

To prepare us both, here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about.

  • How did you feel 24 hours after customize with your phrasing of “restructuring”, “layoffs,” “new responsibilities.”?
  • What specific tasks and responsibilities did you pick up beyond the major ones?
  • What specific relationships (internal and external) did you gain?
  • What new perspectives or feedback do you have?
  • What are you doing now that falls into the “Other Duties As Assigned” part of your job description?

I’m looking forward to the conversation. Thanks in advance for your thoughts and ideas. And thanks for all that you do every day.

Prompts for Conversation with a Function Specialist
  • Explain your thoughts on the benefits and challenges created by having role specialists and ask for their thoughts on the topic.
  • Make a statement like “I see what you (and your team) do, but could you teach me more about the how (strategy) and the why (mission).”
    • If you’re not familiar with Simon Sinek and his ideas on the relationship between Why, How and What, watch his Ted Talk here.
  • Ask, “Where do you see my functional area and yours aligning well?”
  • Ask, “If I could communicate one message about your area better, what would you want me to help people better understand?”
Prompts for Conversation with a Customer Specialist
  • Explain your thoughts on the benefits and challenges created by having role specialists – particularly with customer relationships – and ask for their thoughts on the topic.
  • Make a statement like “We know Customer A and Customer B are important, but what’s something you think we overlook or take for granted about them?”
  • Ask, “Who do you think is a ‘diamond in the rough’ customer – someone who is overlooked because of Customer A and Customer B?”
  • Ask, “What’s the thing that is hardest for you to do, but makes customers ecstatic?”
  • Ask, “What’s the thing that is easiest for you to do, but absolutely wows customers?”
  • Ask, “What’s something about your role that you could have only learned by doing it?”
Prompts for Conversation with a Legacy Specialist

Legacy specialists are experts in an outdated, unique, or infrequent process, tool, or system. They add significant value, but it’s clear that the future state is not likely to include the legacy way of doing business.

  • Explain your thoughts on the benefits and challenges created by having role specialists – particularly with legacy systems and processes – and ask for their thoughts on the topic.
  • Make a statement like “I’d love to learn from you the story of how the legacy process or system came to be here.”
  • Ask, “What do you see as the future of doing the legacy task without the legacy tool?”
  • Ask, “How would you want to be involved in that future state?”
  • Ask, “What’s something you would miss about the legacy process or system?”
  • Ask, “What’s something you definitely would not miss about it?”
5 Meetings a Manager Should Schedule Immediately

If you can devote 4 focused hours to understanding your resigning employee before their departure, you will be rewarded with a better understanding of your business and your resources. It’s also likely you’ll make a smarter hiring decision for a replacement.

Activities Review (1 Hour)

  • Document events that happen for the resigning employee consistently, whether scheduled or unplanned.
    • What is the activity?
    • Who does it benefit?
    • What information is needed?
    • What are the watch outs?
  • Have this discussion about Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual events (5 events each)

Downstream (or Customer) Review (1 Hour)

  • Document 5 key people, groups, or systems that benefit from the resigning employee’s work
    • Who are they?
    • What do they receive?
    • Why does it benefit them?
    • When do they interact?
    • How is the activity triggered?

Upstream (or Supplier) Review (1 Hour)

  • Document 5 key people, groups, or systems that enable the resigning employee’s work
    • Who are they?
    • What do they provide?
    • Why does it benefit the resigning employee?
    • When do they interact?
  • How is the activity triggered?

Tools Review (30 minutes)

  • Document the materials, systems, reports, websites, social media, etc. that enable the resigning employee to succeed.
    • What do they use that is a physical asset? (something tangible like a machine or book)
    • What do they use that is virtual?
    • What is protected by a username and password?
    • Describe the things you keep on your desk like post-it note cheat sheets or calendars.

Self Review (30 minutes)

  • Give the resigning employee 30 minutes to tell you why they have been successful at their role. Encourage them to expand on their
    • Education
    • Passions
    • On the Job learning
    • Mentors
    • Proteges and Colleagues
Involving Colleagues in the Process to Build Trust

A Chinese proverb states that “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The resigning employee has made their decision. You have an opportunity to build Trust with remaining colleagues. You’ll also be leveraging others’ time and not just your own.

  • Credibility – Task trusted colleagues with shadowing the resigning employee in key meetings and events over the next 2 weeks.
  • Reliability – Task trusted colleagues with interviewing others within the organization about what they value about the resigning employee’s work.
  • Intimacy – Be intentional about whom you notify about the resignation. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your trust in colleagues by proactively informing and involving them.
  • Self-Orientation – Project a sincere respect for the value of the resigning employee. Others will view you as focused on the future of the total business and respect that your ego is not the driver of your actions.
Planning an “Admiration Session”

After learning from the resigning employee, schedule 30 minutes to share your positive thoughts about the person. This will benefit you as much as them, since the steps described below can remind you of how much you have valued their contributions.

It can make anyone feel awkward to give or receive direct compliments, but we encourage you to do so. The intent is not to make the resigning employee regret their decision. The intent is sincere respect and closure.

  • Skim the Summary comments from past annual reviews and read from your past positive comments.
  • Share any emails you’ve received from others who are sorry to see the resigning person leave.
  • Name any specific “aha” moments you had while conducting the meetings we recommend.
  • Highlight any proteges whom you have seen benefit from working with the resigning employee.

Agenda for a Team Discussion about The Great Resignation

This agenda is a framework for a leadership team discussion about the Great Resignation and the risk of Institutional Knowledge loss within an organization. It is intended as a conversation starter but could be extended into a working session for a deep dive into the risk assessment tools.

Part 1 – Ensuring common understanding of The Great Resignation

  • Define the Great Resignation
    • The concept that over half the workforce was/is planning on being in a new role by mid 2022
  • Offer Data – Present data from Bureau of Labor Statistics (via
  • Gauge Team Members’ Understanding
    • Ask for attendees to share what they are hearing, reading, seeing.
  • Ask a Question to spur thought
    • Are we seeing this in our organization? Where?

Part 2 – Define why the Great Resignation matters to the team

  • The Great Resignation suggests employers will turn over 1 in 2 employees.
  • Define Institutional Knowledge for the team
    • The combination of critical process skill, learned experience, and supportive networks that help make an individual successful.
  • Resource Availability Discussion
    • Is your organization staffed appropriately to aborbs turnovers in half or even a quarter of roles?
    • Where are the biggest risks?
    • Who would be impacted? Customers, Colleagues, Managers, etc.?
  • Employee Expertise Discussion
    • Beyond workload capacity, what would be lost if there were significant turnover?
    • How important is deep understanding of process, team history, or the market at large to your organization’s success?
  • Outside Factors Discussion
    • What lessons has your team learned through the COVID pandemic?
    • What changes or technologies have you employed to become more resilient?
    • Based on what the team experienced, what concerns remain about losing key employees?

Part 3 – Thought Exercises

  • Conduct an Urgent / Important Risk Assessment
    • Each person evaluates 2-3 people in the company
    • Use the matrix provided as a guide
  • matrix of urgent and important
  • Compare evaluations
    • Who was evaluated?
    • Why?
    • What were the results?

Part 4 – Agree on Next Steps

  • Come to consensus on the overall level of risk for the organization
    1. Low Risk – The organization has low risk and the loss of institutional knowledge would be manageable.
    2. Tactical Risk – The organization is likely to see losses of some tactical expertise in the near future, but the importance is low.
    3. Strategic Risk – The organization knows that it faces the loss of key institutional knowledge eventually, but there are no immediate concerns.
    4. High Risk – The organization is facing or will soon face the loss of key personnel and institutional knowledge.
  • Decide on a path forward
    1. Low Risk – Do nothing.
    2. Tactical Risk – Make a plan to document a few critical processes for key personnel.
    3. Strategic Risk – Make a schedule to assess, retain, and transfer institutional knowledge for key personnel over time.
    4. High Risk – Make a plan to immediately begin capturing and readying institutional knowledge for transfer.