How can you prepare for an unexpected resignation? Every sports team has a plan to attract and develop their talent. Some teams focus on building their talent through the draft while some teams place a higher emphasis on free agency. Regardless of their strategy, every team has a plan to build for the future. The best teams consistently plan for the unexpected loss of talent by either having a “ready now” back-up or by consistently monitoring free agents who can be quickly added to the organization.

Some organizations are especially skilled at building through the “draft” – college recruiting. They place a high level of emphasis on building relationships on campus and attracting the best and brightest students who will become their future stars. Individuals are developed and groomed over time through development programs and employees build strong relationships within their peer group that fosters a strong culture throughout the organization. After a few years of experience, these individuals become the future leaders of the organization.

Other organizations invest heavily in “free agency” – recruiting experienced professionals. Human resources professionals, talent acquisition teams, and hiring managers spend significant time identifying and recruiting a candidate who has the skills and experience needed today to perform in a specific role. Candidates who join the organization are expected to assimilate to the culture and learn the organization’s “playbook” as quickly as possible. To become a cornerstone of the franchise, free agents must become acclimated to the culture, build strong relationships and demonstrate high performance.

When an organization has a sound strategy for identifying and developing talent, they are more prepared to replace a critical team member who resigns unexpectedly. Organizations that build their pipeline through college recruiting consistently evaluate their team’s development needs and readiness for more challenging and complex roles. Organizations that build teams by hiring recruiting experienced professionals consistently scour the market for potential “free agents” who could fill a critical role in the organization.

Most leaders will say that talent is the key differentiator in their organization but few leaders are truly committed to building a strong talent pipeline. Regardless of the methodology for building talent, leaders need to be diligent and committed to preparing for the unexpected departure of a key employee. Leaders can be diligent in evaluating the development needs of their team and committed to building relationships with talented professionals in the market. The leaders who develop a sound strategy and remain committed to that strategy will be most effective at minimizing the impact from the unexpected loss of a key employee.