As an IT leader or business owner, have you lost a key IT resource? Have you had to scramble to figure out how to keep projects moving, hold the IT group together, or pick up the pieces of damaged client relationships?

Almost every organization has experienced the loss of a key IT resource. The size of an organization does not change the fact that losing a key IT resource can create a significant amount of angst and panic. This person may have been a key resource in high visibility projects, a primary solution provider for your biggest clients, or even a “go to” person for your IT group.

As the IT leader, you are expected to create an approach that will help keep projects on task, satisfy the concerns of clients, and provide necessary support for your IT group. How you initially handle this adverse situation sets the stage for whether your organization and clients see this as a negative event, or as a positive milestone in the evolution of your organization. Are you prepared for that responsibility?

While there are many steps that will be necessary to establish a long-term solution, here are three recommended actions to help you handle the immediate situation:

  • Keep everyone calm

Demonstrate calmness and confidence inside your organization and with clients through your words and actions. People will recognize you have everything under control.

Maintaining calm is critical for setting the proper environment for clear thinking, cooperation, and participation. Anxiety and panic can cause people to shut down and focus on the negativity of the situation.

Also, be open and honest with communications. Hiding or avoiding difficult conversations can lead to paranoia and resistance from people needed to help overcome this event.

Actively listen with the purpose of identifying possible problem areas that will need immediate attention. Their perspective is real whether it is based in fact or opinion.

  • Assess knowledge and skillset loss

It is likely there will be knowledge and skillset loss. Quickly assess these gaps and set a priority for filling them.

These gaps can be identified by reviewing available documentation, meeting with project owners and IT teams, and performing client interviews. Again, be open and honest with everyone as to the purpose of this exercise. People inherently want to help, so ask for their help. Affected personnel and clients will appreciate your efforts to include them in the process.

If possible, establish a positive relationship with the key IT resource no longer working with your organization. As a former key IT resource, this person will have knowledge about projects, clients, and the organization that no one else will. Keeping the relationship positive could give you access to missing information for a period of time.

Once you have sufficient information, set a priority for addressing gaps according to business impact, risk, and complexity.

  • Don’t make hasty decisions

Stay as flexible as possible with making decisions until you have all of the information necessary to create a more long-term plan. It is never recommended to make difficult and high-impact decisions when there is turmoil in the environment. Often these decisions are not effective and can create much bigger problems.

That being said, you do need to keep projects moving and meet expected client service levels during this transitional period. Review all of the information available and consider if you have inside resources (with the appropriate capacity) that could be temporarily reallocated to fill gaps.

If your inside resources are already spread thin, then consider contracting an outside resource to provide necessary services. This will also minimize additional stress being placed on your remaining IT team. If your information gathering has been effective, you should be able to properly scope the interim vendor engagement.

It is important to note that adverse events can present great opportunity for new ideas, career advancement, and even a more effective business approach. It may be hard to recognize at the time, but losing a key IT resource might be the catalyst for necessary change in your organization.

The three actions above are intended to help position you for making smarter and more effective short-term and long-term decisions when facing the loss of a key IT resource. Embrace the challenge and demonstrate to your organization and clients that you are not rattled by this event, but instead can leverage the event to further solidify your value within the organization.

To find out more about this or other ways we can assist you with your business needs, contact us at 800.274.3978 or email us.