list of measurable talent risksA common misconception I often find myself debunking is that risks related to “the people part” of business are somehow less quantifiable and manageable than other types of business risks. As we have begun to further shape and prove that a business’s talent risks can be methodically assessed, prioritized, and managed, we still worry about common business language around this topic sounding too fluffy. In this post, I’ve made a clear, comprehensive list of the types of talent risks that we can pinpoint with today’s knowledge transfer tool set. Every one of the risks noted below can be quantified and mitigated – as we have proven many times. Business leaders no longer have to rely on gut feelings, vague conversations, or insufficient tools such as competency models to know that their team will be ready to execute your business strategy today and one to three years from now. How many of these risks are keeping you up at night?  

Measurable, Manageable Talent Risks:

  • Losing an employee with unique knowledge (slows down production, reduces capacity, extends time to troubleshoot problems, hurts the customer experience, removes competitive advantage).
  • Lack of role clarity leading to infighting, inconsistency, rework, etc.
  • Burning out a valued employee because he or she has no backups.
  • Losing employees to a competitor because employees aren’t being developed or can’t see a future for themselves without leaving.
  • Losing next generation employees relegated to years of “paying their dues” and/or having to endlessly “shadow the expert” with no clear path to success.
  • Too many “experts” working at cross-purposes with no standard-bearer for the right way to perform a critical task.
  • Too many “specialists” when utility players would be more easily deployed into a broader variety of tasks.
  • Routine turnover of offshore resources requiring too much time (and travel) from internal experts to retrain.
  • Overly long on-boarding process extends the time before a new resource can add value.
  • Losing a sales opportunity due to lack of available talent.
  • Losing high-quality talent after an acquisition because they can’t see a place for themselves in the new company.
  • Retaining poor quality talent after an acquisition because they have nowhere else to go.
  • Overspending on formal “one size fits all” training after a new system rollout (e.g. SAP).
  • Losing capacity to maintain critical legacy systems because experts are pulled on to new system rollouts (e.g. SAP) or laid off before the new systems are fully in place.
  • Outsourcing the ownership of an organization’s critical knowledge and losing track of it over time.
  • Underutilizing employees who are either pigeonholed or “retired in place” and not earning their keep.
  • Arbitrarily cutting headcount to reduce cost without deeply considering the impact.
  • Reorganizing to solve one problem only to create undue and overly long-term instability and lack of role clarity.
  • Failure to analyze the impact of moving Subject Matter Experts during a reorganization resulting in loss of productivity and role clarity.
  • Failure to clearly define the “new” Big Picture of the team after a reorganization resulting in poor prioritization and decision making.
  • Setting out to “change the culture” without clearly articulating the future state, leading to confusion, frustration and burnout.
  • Overspending on underprepared contract resources rather than defining and managing to clear expectations.
  • The wrong “expert” training peers because he or she is good at talking, but not doing the work the “right way”.
Do you see any risks here that your team is facing? They are solvable in a methodical and measurable way. In future posts, I’ll explain how knowledge transfer tools – such as the Knowledge Silo Matrix (KSM) – can reveal, track, and lead to the mitigation of these talent risks.


With all the risks facing business workforces today, having a risk reduction plan in place is more critical than ever. Our knowledge transfer process provides the resources to assess, manage, and resolve talent risks with the same rigor that is commonly applied to other business challenges, ensuring that your workforce remains ready to face whatever the future holds. Contact us or book Steve to speak to learn more about talent risk and our knowledge transfer.