My last Design and Dialogue post from last year, Happy New Year, I Quit (you can also see my video here) I talk about the best practices your firm should lean on when an employee quits.

One of the best practices is for a firm to call upon their bush league. In other words, promote from the team you have to fill the open role created when your employee quit. This is a seamless way to ensure productivity and continuity in the firm and in projects if you have someone to promote.

And there is the catch. Most firms don’t have a strong bench to promote from.

So where do you start? First, you must understand that developing a bench is not up to one person. It must be part of the firm’s culture. This can seem daunting but there are five questions to ask when working with an employee to develop them into a higher role with more responsibility.

• What will their new role be?
• What skills does the employee have to be successful in the new role, and what skills do they need?
• How will these new skills be trained? By whom? Who will be the employee mentor?
• Who are their teammates, or will they be managing a team? How do you make the announcement?
• What projects do they need to be on? Share details, the more the better.
• What projects do they want to be on? Understand the new employee’s interests.

This is not a change that happens overnight, in a week, or even in a month. I would spend a good month developing the plan and identifying who you want to train. Once you have that, schedule a good three months for training. Do not rush.

And think bigger. Make employee development part of the firm’s culture. Be very open with the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the company. Connect with each employee and ask them if they are interested in growing with your firm. Doing this creates buy-in and buy-in develops a feeling of ownership.

The feeling of ownership is the attitude your bench teams should have. When employees have ownership, they are ready to step up! They understand there will be questions, a learning curve, and even some miss-steps, but they are happy to do it. They see the big picture and know this is an opportunity for their growth.