When an employee leaves their employer, comprehensive knowledge transfer to the remaining colleagues is always a critical desire but, more commonly, a major failure. Most companies do it poorly or not at all. Without a sound strategy to infuse knowledge transfer into employee turnover and/or succession activities, both the company and teammates find themselves in a very vulnerable position trying to continue the operations at an optimal level. This negative impact is tripled when long-tenured employees holding key roles leave the company. High-stress levels, frustration, and anxiety are felt by all when handoffs are not well executed.

In this episode, Laurel Rutledge, founder of the LKR Group, shares insights on how leaders can avoid their employees taking institutional knowledge with them as they transfer to a new department or worse, leave the company. She shares a real-life case study and shows the power to be had when aligning people strategy, data and business strategy to ensure ongoing organizational effectiveness occurs.


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  1. Avoiding “shiny ball syndrome”: Misconceptions about leadership that people fall into
  2. Strategies leaders can use to ensure knowledge transfer during employee transitions
  3. Laurel’s Fun Facts – purging, quinoa and brussel sprouts, and being approachable.

“HR are not the ‘party planners’ and don’t own the culture; organizations owns their culture. HR are the stewards of the culture.”


    [03:49] Hear where Laurel grew up and her interesting professional story

    [10:21] What it takes for you to lead at the top of your game

    [11:34] Laurel’s addition to the LATTOYG playbook: The 4 pillars of focus Laurel finds critical for all exemplary leaders

    [13:26] Common areas where people stumble and how you can move past them

    [17:45] Misconception about leadership that people fall into

    [20:40] How to tackle the knowledge transfer dilemma

    [29:06] Signature Segment: The leadership tactics that most resonates with Laurel

    [31:57] Signature Segment: Full Disclosure

    [35:06] Signature Segment: Karan’s Take


    A former Senior HR Executive with global, multi-industry experience, Laurel Rutledge has built teams and departments, led large-scale projects, and coached individuals from the plant floor to the boardroom. With a background in people strategy and analytics, internal audit, consulting, and risk management, she knows that it takes both people and strategy to build a business or career.

    Laurel holds a B.S in Accounting from the University of Houston-Downtown, an MBA from Indiana University-Bloomington/ESADE – Barcelona, and multiple certifications. She hosts “The Rutledge Perspective,” a weekly live radio show and pre-recorded podcast, and “Alignment, Vision, Action” on Fireside



    Overview:  The Lead at the Top of Your Game Leadership Development Experience


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    Episode 9 | Ensuring Knowledge Transfer Occurs Before Employees Are Out The Door w/ Laurel Rutledge

    Laurel Rutledge  00:00

    And so, really great leaders who are truly leading at the top of their game are transparent; they’re authentic, they communicate well, and they always make sure their actions align with their words and when they don’t, they call it out before their people do.


    Voiceover  00:16

    Welcome to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.


    Laurel Rutledge  00:53

    Hey there superstars! This is Karan and welcome to today’s episode! You know, when an employee leaves their employer, comprehensive knowledge transfer to remaining colleagues is always a critical desire, but more commonly a major failure. Most companies either wait too late to focus on it or they do an abysmal job in executing the process. The downside of this phenomenon is that both teammates and the company find themselves placed in a very vulnerable position to try to continue company operations at an optimal level. This negative impact is tripled when long-tenured employees leave the company. High stress levels, frustration, and anxiety are frequently felt by all. To help us more deeply prepare for tenured employees transitioning out of the company, our guest today is Ms. Laurel Rutledge, founder of the LKR Group and host of “The Rutledge Perspective” radio show and the Alignment, Vision, Action podcast. She’s also subject matter expert in change management, leader development, and workforce optimization. She has a unique background in people strategy and analytics, internal audit, consulting, and risk management. And with all those super skills, Laurel brings a well-rounded perspective and a real-life case study on our topic today.  She also shares additional gems on leadership execution – something that you definitely don’t want to miss! So, be sure to listen to her addition to our leadership execution playbook and my closing segment called “Karan’s Take”, where I share a tip on how to use insights from today’s episode to further sharpen your leadership acumen. And now, enjoy the show!


    Karan Rhodes  02:47

    Hello, my superstars! Welcome to today’s episode of the “Lead At The Top Of Your Game” podcast. Boy, do we have a treat for you all today! I am so pleased to have on today’s show a very dear friend, a sorority sister, and a tremendous leader in her own right Ms. Laurel Rutledge of the LKR group. So, welcome to today’s podcast, Ms. Laurel!


    Laurel Rutledge  03:13

    Thank you so much! I’m so excited to be here! This is gonna be awesome. I’m so excited!


    Karan Rhodes  03:18

    It is gonna be awesome! We can talk all day (unintelligible). So, are you ready to crack open that leadership playbook of yours?


    Laurel Rutledge  03:26

    I am!


    Karan Rhodes  03:26

    Are you ready to share a couple of tips with us?


    Laurel Rutledge  03:29

    Yes, I am ready. I am ready.


    Karan Rhodes  03:31

    Okay, wonderful! Wonderful. Well, to start us off, you know, for as much as you feel comfortable, I’d love to give the listeners just a little bit about your personal background—kind of where you grew up and your story there. And, then, tell us a bit about your professional story today.


    Laurel Rutledge  03:49

    Great, yes! Thank you so much. And, again, thank you for having me. I’m really excited. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, and so, I actually grew up in Odessa, Texas. So, for those of your listeners who know Friday Night Lights, it was my high school. Friday Night Lights was my high school.


    Karan Rhodes  04:07

    Oh my gosh!


    Laurel Rutledge  04:07

    Yeah, my dad was my principal, and everybody knew him. He passed away in ‘96 but we were at that game that was in the… in the movie. And, you know, everything that you saw was real. It has some issues still; it’s Odessa. (unintelligible) but, one thing that is real, from a football perspective, is people still do have season tickets and their kids have been gone for decades. Then, they pass them down in wills and all that. I mean, it’s a serious thing is football. But what was more important to me about growing up in Odessa, not only that, but I grew up south side. It’s a typical town that has a north side and the south side; I grew up on the south side of the tracks. Everybody knew, you know, my parents. I went to a predominantly black and brown junior high school until they started busing us. I know I’m dating myself but they actually started busing us and, my parents were all about education. No matter what was going on, they were all about education, and so, I remember in ninth grade, I actually went to ninth grade half a day, and I went to high school half a day. And I really thought I was going to graduate early and go to medical school and be a doctor, and that’s not what I ended up doing. I did end up going to… going away to school and was so excited to get into Rice University, and it ended up being a horrendous experience for me. It was great for… in terms of some people that I still know, they’re still very, very good friends of mine. But from a personal perspective, it was a really horrendous experience, and I ended up transferring…


    Karan Rhodes  05:36

    Why was that?


    Laurel Rutledge  05:37

    You know, Rice is an interesting place.


    Karan Rhodes  05:40

    Oh, okay. Just the dynamics there?


    Laurel Rutledge  05:43

    Yeah, it’s an interesting place. Let’s put it this way: it was a long time before they admitted women onto the campus, and an even longer time before they admitted anybody who was not white onto the campus.


    Karan Rhodes  05:54



    Laurel Rutledge  05:54

    And so, there was a time when we all… a number of us went to a party were actually… actually followed back to our dorm by campus police asking us why we were on campus. So, that’s the Rice that I went to. And it just… it just… in hindsight, it just was not the place I was meant to be. But I was so caught up in… you get invited to… to go, and it’s such a great place—the Harvard of the sout. And… and there were some really great things about it, and there’s some great people there. And I still have some really difference. It just was not the place and the time for me. So, I ended up going to University of Houston, graduating in accounting, mainly because my dad was like, “Honey, I know you want to graduate in psychology, but I need you to get a job when you get out of school.”


    Karan Rhodes  06:37

    Parents, right?


    Laurel Rutledge  06:38

    Parents, and I get that, right? So, I did accounting, and it actually, in hindsight, turned out to be one of the best things in terms of being able to be an HR person because my undergrad is in accounting, I knew getting out of school, I wanted to go back and get my MBA, I wanted to work for a number of years, and then, go back. So, I looked at all the schools I wanted to go to to see what the average work time was that… that got admitted. I knew I wanted to go out to the state of Texas to go. And so, I was able to get a consortium fellowship to Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, which was one of the first schools that started the whole cohort thing, right? Where the professors move in and out and you stay with your group.


    Karan Rhodes  07:14



    Laurel Rutledge  07:15

    And graduated from Kelly with a MBA with a concentration in operations in international business. I finished it in Spain, and three of my four classes were in Spanish. So, I had to learn Spanish very quickly, so I could get out. And I was in Barcelona, so not only were they speaking Spanish, but they were speaking Catalan. So, I had to learn all of that kind of stuff, and then, wound up doing consulting and internal audit and worked at Deloitte for a long time. And that’s when the whole Sarbanes Oxley thing happened when Enron collapsed. I was actually at the Houston office when that happened, and we shared a parking garage so I saw people walking out with their boxes. And that’s when I knew I did not want to be a partner in a professional services firm because you’re in business with every other partner in a professional services firm.


    Karan Rhodes  08:01

    You are, that’s right.


    Laurel Rutledge  08:01

    And it just wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I left from there doing some risk management in some places and wound up in Batesville, Indiana, of all places, working with Hillenbrand Industries, the Casket Company and the Medical Devices Company; really strange conglomerate they had you from the womb to the tomb…


    Karan Rhodes  08:19



    Laurel Rutledge  08:20

    …which I knew was great for me because my best friend and I say that all the time. And that’s where I got into HR, because the leader of HR for the Casket Company was seeing me in all these board meetings–because I was there as their Director of Risk Management–seeing me in all these board meetings, and I had decided, “You know what, I’ve got to go that one is (unintelligible).” And two, they’re not really ready for enterprise risk management, and so I’m… I’m being paid really well but I’m being paid well to be an assistant, right? I’m just taking down notes, and that doesn’t make any sense. What do I want to do? And I started thinking about HR, and this… this leader, VP of HR for the Casket Company, happened to see me at the end of a meeting and said, “Have you ever thought about HR? Because I always look for good business people who I can teach HR stuff.” And I’m like, “Wonder of wonders!” And that’s how my career started. I mean, Batesville, Indiana with a phenomenal, phenomenal HR leader, who is still a dear friend of mine today. He’s in Florida now, and so, we’re still connected.


    Karan Rhodes  09:17

    It’s amazing he’s identified that brilliance in you and can make the connection which is rare, you know, that a lot of leaders do that. And one of the things I’ve been most impressed about your background is because you do have that rare combination of the business side and the people side. And you have been successful in your corporate work career through that. And then, you’ve used that knowledge and insight for your consulting business as well. So, you’re just the triple threat. That’s all I can say.


    Laurel Rutledge  09:50

    Thank you!


    Karan Rhodes  09:51

    In my opinion, anyway.


    Laurel Rutledge  09:53

    Great, great! No, I love it. I’ll take it, I’ll take it!


    Karan Rhodes  09:58

    Well, Laura, I really wanted to ask you… before we get into, you know, what you’re doing now in your consulting practice, just in your opinion and in your history, what do you think it takes for individuals to lead at the top of their game? What kind of characteristics do you think help make them successful?


    Laurel Rutledge  10:21

    That’s such an amazing question because as I’ve worked with leaders, one of the big things for me is really being clear on who you are, right? You got to be clear on who you are; you got to own your own stuff because none of us is perfect. But the second thing is making sure that your words and your actions align because people will listen to what you say, but they will believe what you do. And you can say things all day long but if your actions say something different, that’s what people are going to resonate with—is how you make them feel. If you tell them one thing, but do something different, they’re going to start acting towards what you do. And so, really great leaders who are truly leading at the top of their game are transparent; they’re authentic, they communicate well, and they always make sure their actions align with their words and when they don’t, they call it out before their people do, and they change or act accordingly.


    Karan Rhodes  11:10

    Mm hmm., great point. Excellent point! And I know in your practice, because it is so diverse, you’ve seen probably the best of the best and probably a little bit on the worst of the worst side as well.


    Laurel Rutledge  11:24

    Yeah, a few. Yes.


    Karan Rhodes  11:26

    Tell me a little bit about your practice and what you focus on and how you help people and organizations be better.


    Laurel Rutledge  11:35

    Sure, so my business resonates around four questions: who you are, where you are, what you want, and what it’s going to take and you’re willing to do to get it. And all of that gets down to being really aligned, being really clear on your vision, and then, moving into empowered action. And so, as I work with people, I start them at the very beginning—who are you and where are you? Because if you don’t know that, then, no matter what you say you want, it’s going to be very difficult for you to make a plan, to make a strategy, to move into action there because if it’s not aligned, it’s not going to feel right. And so, what I’ve found in my history and working with lots of leaders is many times when there’s this disconnect, something just doesn’t feel right, they’re unhappy, it’s not where they want to be, they’re not leading well, they’re not communicating well with their teams, there is something that is not aligned for them. And if I can get people really focused again on their root system, right? What are those things that ground you? What are your key strengths? And what are the things you can deliver to the world? And then, align that with the work they want to do, it’s so much easier for them to then show up and stay where they are, and dig back into their strength or make a definitive plan that it’s time to go, right? Not just being mad and hurting them because they’re mad at somebody else, right? Don’t… don’t hurt you because you’re mad at them. Make a plan, know if it’s you or if it’s them, and then move accordingly because we all have choices. We all make choices.


    Karan Rhodes  12:59

    We do. And where do you see a lot of individuals struggle or stumble, you know, as they’re trying to kind of figure this out for them? And we all have moments in time when we’re not quite as sure about our next steps as where we want to be. What are some common areas that you see that people stumble that you have to like, coach them through? Or, you know, give them advice about?


    Laurel Rutledge  13:26

    Yeah, you know, a big one that I see with people is this inability to really hear what they’re saying, right? So, we get so caught up in responding, right? We’re not listening to understand, we’re listening to respond. And even when I’m working with them, I use a lot of repeating. Here’s what you just said. Did you hear what you just said? And so, often people don’t even recognize that they are talking themselves out of or into situations that are untenable for them just through their words and through their actions. So, a big piece that I’ve seen that’s a stumbling block is not paying attention to what you’re really saying. Just pause, take a minute; really think about what you’re saying and how the other side is going to hear that. Not that you have to sugarcoat things, but you need to be really, really clear and know what you mean, and really mean what you say.


    Karan Rhodes  14:17

    That’s right.


    Laurel Rutledge  14:17

    So, if you can do that, then, it’s going to be so much easier for you to ensure that things are going well. That’s a big one for me.


    Karan Rhodes  14:25

    That is (unintelligible), that is (unintelligible).


    Laurel Rutledge  14:27

    Yeah! The other thing that I noticed, too, is people just get tired. They get so tired, and when they’re tired, they have an inability to think as clearly and to move as clearly. And so, that fatigue and the pressure around that fatigue, right? We hear a lot of “Hustle and grind. You’re not working hard enough. You gotta be here longer. Why are you leaving so fast?” We get that in our heads that head trash that says “Well, if I work a little bit longer, if I say a little bit more, if I do a little bit more…”, when what we really need to do is just stop. Just stop. Regroup. If you need a mental health day today, take that mental health day before you say or do something you can’t unsay or undo. That’s right. And you come back, right? So… so, listen to what you’re saying, and then, take the time that you need when you’re… when you’re really over exhausted. Those are the big ones. No, I love that! That is… that is so meaningful. And a lot of times we don’t stop and regroup. And I know… in my book I talk about… I have a whole chapter on becoming a leadership athlete. It is not easy to be a strong, effective leader all the time. It is exhausting for your mind, body, and soul. And there’s some interventions that you have to create for yourself to make sure that you are optimal when you need to be, right? Yes, yes. And it’s the art of saying no, right? You can say no.


    Karan Rhodes  22:58



    Laurel Rutledge  22:58

    And you don’t have to… unfortunately, we think we have to be ugly, right? To say no. We don’t have to be ugly to say no. Sometimes that no is… “Okay, so I’ve got 400 things on my list, and you’ve just added 401. Okay, but let’s talk about what’s going to come off the list.” Right? That’s a no. It’s true, that’s true. Or my favorite is, “Although it’s not ideal for me at this time, let me think and brainstorm if there are other resources that I can point you to.” Yes, exactly! Because I feel weak about that. I want to help everybody, but it is exhausting. Get the focus on the item… the urgent things that you really do need to prioritize, you now. Right, right! And we own everybody’s stuff. Don’t… Stop owning everybody’s stuff, especially HR people.


    Karan Rhodes  30:47

    We do!


    Laurel Rutledge  30:47

    We do not own everybody’s stuff. We’re not the party planners, it’s not our job to plan all the parties, and we don’t own the culture. And so, for your HR people, we are not the owners of the culture. The company owns the culture; the leaders in the business own the culture. We are the stewards of the culture; we help them recognize when their words and actions don’t align with the culture that they say they want but we don’t own it. So, don’t let somebody put on you stuff you don’t own.


    Karan Rhodes  31:51

    That’s right. You’ll look crazy trying to solve something that’s not solvable from your, you know, role and account… level of accountability.


    Laurel Rutledge  31:59

    Right, right. You know, I’m curious, are there any myths about leadership that people fall into… into believing? Or what are some of the misconceptions that you hear when you… when your clients are saying “I want to be a stronger leader”? Are there any things that kind of pop out that they feel leadership is but truly isn’t? You know, what I see and hear a lot is a misunderstanding of the difficulty and the pressure the higher you go up in the organization. So, people see the shiny ball, right? They see the big office, they see the time off, they see the money, and they think, “Oh, well, you get to sit back and just have everybody else do the work.”


    Karan Rhodes  32:55



    Laurel Rutledge  32:56

    What they don’t see is the additional level of pressure because there’s so much more you know. There are so few people you can actually have in your circle that you can talk to because the information you have can be so sensitive that having it get out before it needs to be can really be detrimental. If not sometimes a compliance issue if you’re talking to SEC, right, and dissolutions mentor or getting rid of pieces of the business? People sometimes don’t understand about being really careful what you ask for; go talk to people who are really in the role that you aspire to. And don’t talk to them about just the work that they do every day. Talk to them about what it feels like to be in the role every day as that leader—the pressure that rises up. Absolutely. That is so spot on. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, because what people forget is that, yes, responsibility may roll down. Everybody’s responsible for their stuff but accountability ultimately rolls up so the higher you… up you go, the more accountable you are for everything that happens below you whether or not you know it. You are accountable for it and there’s a lot of pressure with that. So, don’t… don’t get shiny ball syndrome, right? It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, your money can be good and you might get invited to things and that’s awesome. It’s nice to be out there but remember what you got to deal with on a daily basis.


    Karan Rhodes  34:40

    You’re so… that’s so correct. You are one of the few guests that have such a well-rounded background and a lot of the guests that we’ve had are, you know, in a specific sliver but you have like, as mentioned, both of the business side and the people side of business. I’d love to like pull back the layer of the onion just a little bit…


    Laurel Rutledge  34:52



    Karan Rhodes  34:52

    …and maybe do like a case study. I know you’ve had a lot of experiences but I’d love to give the listeners some insights on how they can approach certain things. So, I believe you were involved in, you know, a succession planning initiative in the industry. Tell us about that because I want to help people understand, you know, some real world case studies and how you went about it. It’s your… your way, right? Your… your insight that you use in this particular way, and there are multiple ways, probably, to tackle the problem you were trying to solve. But I’d love to move to hear how you were thinking through solving it and the results of it. Thank you for that question because I… I often find, especially as you move up in organizations or if you cross organizations, if you go into older functions or older situations, companies that have been around for a very long time where people have long tenure, there’s a tendency to hire people by saying, “Hey, we want new information. We want new perspectives.”, but then, when you get in there, it’s like, “Well, I haven’t seen it so it can’t be possible.” So, in this particular instance, we knew that we were facing a cliff; we’re facing a significant cliff—a retirement cliff. And the organization have been around for a very, very long time, and we were trying to decide what we were going to do to address it. Now, as HR people, and because I’m a business person, I’ve been talking about this for a while, trying to do real succession planning. How do we look throughout our organization? You know, even demand studies, what are we going to need based on strategy, not based on what we feel, based on strategy. And so, one of the things we came up with was we said, “You know what, we need to know when people are going to retire. We need to understand so that we can plan for that.” Because at this organization, we were talking about some really… not only senior people, but some very specific knowledge because it was a chemical company. There’s some things that were developed inside that were very specific to the organization. So, what we decided to do was put together what we called an early notification of retirement program. And when we first did it, it was like, “Oh, that’s not going to work. We can’t do that.”, because it was an organization that every time we got into some kind of issue, they would do a voluntary separation program, right? They just paid people lots of money to go away, and then, you hire them back as consultants. I mean, it was just… just bad processes but it was historic, right? So we said, “No, we don’t need to do that but we do need to know.” So what can we put together based on data to come back and say, “Okay, from a financial standpoint, if we do that, here’s what that means for us from a company from a financial standpoint.” HR people, you need to be able to talk the finances of the business. Here’s what happens from a financial standpoint. From a people standpoint and institutional knowledge standpoint, here’s what it does in terms of giving us an opportunity to make sure we can pass on that knowledge, knowledge transfer, right? So that we don’t get caught, for lack of a better term, with our pants down when people just leave. Right.


    Laurel Rutledge  37:31

    So, we started putting all this together, we did some detailed succession planning. Here’s what we think would leave. Here’s what it looks like in terms of age. Here’s what happens. I mean, we did all of the data, people analytics, right? We did all of the data, we came up with this program, and we said, “Here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to give people an opportunity to tell us up to a year in advance, ad they can decide. Do you want to take a bonus at the end or do you want to start ticking down your time?” Right for succession planning? You want to… at the end of the year, you just want to work two days a week, or you just want to work three days a week. And when we presented it, it was like, “We can’t do that. There’s no way we can do that. That’s not possible.”


    Karan Rhodes  38:09

    They didn’t even give it a try, huh?


    Laurel Rutledge  38:12

    They didn’t give it a try. “We can’t… Nobody’s gonna want…” You know what? I’m out. Right? Let’s talk about it; let’s talk about what’s gonna happen, because number one, we think it’s going to cost us this much for a voluntary separation program. Well, guess what, when you are… when people leave who’ve been here this long who were in a pension plan that’s now frozen, and you’re hiring new people even if you hire them at really high salaries, you’ve got a significant decrease in your long term costs, right? There’s no cost for those people. We’ve got a significant decrease in that even if you’re hiring most senior people. Oh, you know, you got to start… HR people, you gotta start with the numbers, right? (unintelligible) it was like, “Well, nobody’s gonna want to take the decrease. Nobody’s gonna want…” (unintelligible) paying attention. When people retire, one of the biggest fears you heard was that, “Oh my gosh, I’m gonna die when I retire. What am I going to do? People get really sick, they don’t make it.”, you know, three years past retirement and they’re gone. And people were having a hard time easing themselves into because remember, we had the recession 2007-2008, so easing into retirement. So, we finally got it passed; we fin… after four or five times where we rewrote history, we finally got it through. And what we were able to find out is when they got it done, about 50 percent of the people decided they wanted to take the trickle down of retirement.


    Karan Rhodes  39:19

    Shut the front door! Are you serious?


    Laurel Rutledge  39:20

    I… I don’t even have to say I told you so because, see, this ain’t my first rodeo.


    Karan Rhodes  39:22

    Yes, you did. Yes, you did.


    Laurel Rutledge  39:22

    Right? But… But from that succession planning standpoint, what that enabled us to do is say, “You know what, now, we’ve got 12 months. We cannot only take these people who are earlier career people and who’ve been complaining about all these blockers, right, that they can’t get another job or bigger job because we get all these blockers.” We can actually now plan to re-align the organization, to make jobs bigger and broader, to have conversations with earlier career people to say, “I know you say you want a director job and this is the role you want but guess what? That was a director job because it costs… it took all this time to learn how to do it and it was all manual. Now, you push a button, that’s not a director role but if we add all these other things, and you’re really learning, maybe it is a director role.” So, we were able to have some really meaty conversations about what roles meant. We were able to have some meaty conversations with people about what is a critical role and what is the key role because those are two different things. And we were able to really design a process that said, “If nothing else, we now have enough information to get ourselves prepared to not be caught flat-footed when someone who is in a key position leaves and takes all that institutional knowledge with them.” And so, we as HR were able to put in place some things to help them understand how to do knowledge transfer, to how to plan for them to be gone. We were able to work with our benefits people and our legal team to say, “You know what we absolutely can do this under our SPD because what we’re saying is your bonus is you’re gonna get to work part time but we’re not going to give you part time benefits or part time pay. That’s your bonus; we’re not gonna cut anything that’s financial to you, except you’re not going to have to work those five hours a week or seven hours a week or, you know, whatever it is… seven days a week. You’re not gonna have to do as much of that; you’ll be able to work down.” And so, we were able to build a real succession plan around key roles, around key opportunities because we thought about what does the business need. Where is the pain in the business? And how can we creatively address that for a way that works for the people (i.e. I want to ease into retirement.) and works for the business. We don’t want to have to spend as much money as we would spend if we were doing a voluntary separation program. And by taking both of those into account, we were able to put in place a process that they’re still using, apparently, from what I understand. Yes, yes, they did!


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    That is absolutely amazing! And so, I do encourage our listeners, if you are in a company or organization such as… similar to what Laura was describing is to, you know, really do take an opportunity to think outside the box, do your best to support knowledge transfer. You know, be a astute with the needs of the business and the organization and I bet, you know, you’ll have a big win if you take a chance on some creative initiatives such as that. That is awesome.


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Yes, yes.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Well, Ms. Laurel, as you know, um, you know, I’ve done a lot of research and actually wrote a book on leadership execution, practices, and tactics there. And there were seven that really popped out in the study that… that the world’s most successful leaders actually execute in any leadership lnitiative, and all seven are very important but I was just curious if one of the seven kind of popped out for you as being impactful or… or meaningful for you.


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    The one that really stuck out to me was intellectual horsepower.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Oh, really? Oh, tell me more, tell me more!


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Yes, that really stuck out because especially again, coming from back office functions, right? HR, finance, legal, tax—all of those kinds of things that are not considered the operational pieces of the business, you have got to have some serious intellectual horsepower that enables you to connect dots that the rest of the operations don’t even see. Right, as a leader in those back office functions, you have got to be able to demonstrate and be 12 steps ahead of your business partners because they’re already going to assume you don’t really know the business. Maybe not so much in finance, but in everything else in marketing, right? In HR, in tax, in legal, in communications, they’re just gonna assume you don’t know anything about how the business operates, right? You’ll get that a lot, especially if you’re trying to get them to do something they don’t want to do but if you are utilizing your intellectual horsepower, if you are taking everything you have, everything you know, and you are applying it to that… that full vehicle, right? All four wheels are getting all of that torque, right? You are going to be able to push things forward from a standpoint of “I am with you, I understand the business, and I absolutely understand the impact of what I’m asking you or guiding you to do.” Because you’re not just sitting back allowing someone else to tell you what your role is. If you are in a function where you’re having to say “Business partner”, that means that your function is not seen as a business partner. So, your intellectual horsepower is what changes your position and changes your impact. So, utilize that. You are smart, you’re capable, you are intelligent. Use that intellectual horsepower to push not only your function forward but to push forward your ability to really impact the business which is gonna impact your career, and is going to demonstrate real leadership to those people who are watching you because someone is always watching.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Always watching. I couldn’t have said it any better myself so there are no more probing questions about that. But thank you so much for your perspective.


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Yes, yes!


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Before we close things out…


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Add the book, add the book! It’s great.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Thank you! Before we close things out, I do want to… to start our final segment and it’s called “Full Disclosure”. There are a few fun questions that I ask; there are no gotcha questions (unintelligible) but I always love to ask these so that the audience kind of gets a picture of… of from a personal level.


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19



    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    So, my first question for you is what do you like to do to relax and decompress?


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Ah, you know, it’s interesting that changes over time but right now, what I find, which is gonna be weird, what I find the most relaxing and decompressing right now is purging, right? Getting my space around me just clean. Clean. I sleep better, I think better, I breathe better. And so that… that actual physical exercise of cleaning and getting things out and taking them, you know, to dress for success and just moving things out of my space is much more relaxing than it ever has been at this stage of my life. It’s just really… it helps me reset to do that.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    You know what? We’re gonna have to take this offline and get it… get you give me tips on how to do that because I really need to do that as well. I need that. I got a lot of paper, a lot of closet being filled so any tips I will try to talk to you offline about that.


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19



    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Also curious, what is one of your favorite meals to have?


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    So, this is also a place where I’m a little weird. So, I tend to move towards plant-based kind of pescatarian things but yeah, I love, love, love, love, love, love quinoa and brussel sprouts and like bokchoy. So, there’s really cruciferous vegetables that have like good crunch to ‘em. Doing something like that with a really great like balsamic drizzle, and I’m happy; I’m good. Maybe throw some fish or some shrimp or something in there but just as really good crispy vegetables and some quinoa to get a little bit of grain, a little bit of protein, I’m happier.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    You’re in heaven?


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Yes, yes, yes!


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Wonderful! Well, what is one word that your friends would use to describe you? Or phrase if it’s not a word. Or phrase?


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Wow, you know, what I’ve… I’ve heard a lot is just approachable. Approachable. Yeah, I wind up with people telling me a lot of stuff that I didn’t ask. I just… I keep a lot… I keep a lot of secrets. So, I… and that’s… the other thing is a vault. They’re like “You’re just a vault.” and like, well, it’s not my story to tell. So, you know, unless you’re telling me to tell the world, then, I just won’t so that… those are the big ones. You know, that you’re a vault and really approachable on the big things.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    I can definitely see that, I can definitely see that. Alright, well, my final… it’s not a question; it’s just a statement. I’m a big believer of, you know, if I’m pinning you with questions to turn the tables right back at me. So, what is one question that you would like to ask me?


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    A big question that I would like to ask you is if you are going to tell someone the one thing that they could do to really become the leader they want to be, what would that be?


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Oh, wow, the one thing? That’s a great question. I’m kind of in alignment with what you had mentioned earlier. I really don’t think that you can start becoming the leader that you want to be until you have more introspective kind of conversations with yourself and understanding who you are, where you wanted to go, where are your gifts and where are your passions because you’re not gonna be the best leader you can be based on what somebody else’s direction is. It needs to be at the intersection between your skills, abilities, your passions, and then, how you can best serve. So, I try to get people to start there first, similar to what you do, and then, once we know that, then, we can figure out a pathway for the rest that you’re trying to achieve and then, you know, make suggestions on, you know, how to grow as a leader, how to identify any gaps that you may have to get there. But let’s start with you first and get that to your point, your alignment. That’s what I love the model that you use because once you get that and have a full understanding with that, then, the world is your oyster. You can pop it up and then, go in almost a million different directions, you know, based on the impact that you want to make and the people that you want to serve.


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Yeah, I love that. See, this is why I’m getting on to you. See, this is why we’re connected.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Yes, it definitely is. Well, I will have a lot of information about you in the show notes but I want to give you an opportunity to share with the listeners your website and about your show, your online show on your website. Can you share that with them, just a little bit about where to find you?


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Sure, absolutely! And the easiest way to find me, all things Laurel Rutledge is on Everything is there. You can get to my podcast there; all the episodes, audio, and video are there. Fireside, you can jump on fireside. Go to fireside, go see our interview because I was able to have Karan on for my Fireside show. It’s a live platform. It’s iOS now but you can also catch it live on their platform, and you can catch my radio show. So, all things there, all things Laurel Rutledge are there. Also, my… my one-on-one, my group things, my free things, everything about me is there on the website. So, I welcome you to… to come there, reach out to me; there are places to just reach out and chat, and if I can be of service, I would be honored to do so.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    Alright, listeners, you know where to find Ms. Laurel and if you don’t, just check the show notes. We’ll have the links in there. Take a chance. She is as awesome as she seems on the show; she is not faking it. She is this and more. The real deal Holyfield, as we like to say in Georgia.


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    I love it!


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    But please take her up on that. She is extremely dynamic, she can impact both you and your professional growth, as well as help coach and guide strategic activities within organizations. So, definitely check her out. Well, thank you so much, Laurel, for your gift of time today. We’re so blessed to have you, and we hope that you have a wonderful rest of your year. I know it’s gonna be absolutely tremendous and fantastic.


    Laurel Rutledge  41:19

    Thank you so much; the same to you! I so appreciate the honor of being on your show. It has been fantastic. I’m sure we will do it again.


    Karan Rhodes  41:19

    We will, definitely! Thank you, listeners, and we’ll talk to you in the next episode. Bye bye! I hope you enjoyed our conversation today Laurel Rutledge, founder of the LKR Group and host of “The Rutledge Perspective” radio show and the “Alignment, Vision, Action” podcast. Links to her bio, her entry into our Leadership Playbook, and additional resources can be found in the show notes, both on your favorite podcast platform and at And now, for “Karan’s Take” on today’s topic of knowledge transfer of terminating employees. Today, I wanted to share just a few tips on how you can best ensure effective knowledge transfer happens when a valued employee leaves your team. My first tip is to make documenting processes an ongoing priority.  Don’t wait until you receive a resignation letter to try to capture the years of knowledge an employee has gained while working at the company. Require your staff to document essential functions of their role via standard operating procedures and make a point of updating every performance review cycle. My second tip is to encourage collaboration and cross-training so that more than one person knows how critical processes are run. Consider including formal mentoring or job shadowing programs as part of your talent development processes. This will do a double duty of ensuring knowledge transfer while also making employees very happy that you are investing on their personal development. And my third tip is to conduct what we call “stay-interviews” with your employees on a regular basis. Stay-interviews are 1:1 meeting that you have with your employees where you have frank conversations about their current level of work satisfaction and you try to determine if they might be looking external to the company for another opportunity. Try to make sure all employees feel valued, especially your long-tenured ones. It really pays off in the end. So, listeners, if you enjoyed this topic, more info on developing stronger leadership acumen can be found by clicking on the Signature Program link on our website. Thanks so much for listening and see you next week. Bye!


    Voiceover  41:19

    And that’s our show for today. Thank you for listening to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast where we help you leave your seats at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K-a-r-a-n. And if you liked the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand project or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Bye for now.


    Karan Rhodes  41:43

    Because that’s such an amazing intervention. We talk about organizational effectiveness and this is a perfect example. Thank you so much for sharing that! It’s a perfect example of the power of when you align people strategy data with business strategy and data, right? It empowers the organization for the long term. It made the employees a lot more happy; it gave them choice, the power of choice, right?


    Laurel Rutledge  42:01

    Yes. Yes, yes!


    Karan Rhodes  42:04

    It helps solidify your employer brand because believe in me, I’m sure they talked to their family, friends, colleagues about what you are doing, right?

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