Employees can easily be categorized in many different groups and one of them is what I call “Dump and Run”. This category sometimes applies to employees who leave a company or move between departments inside a company, but in the end their behavior is pretty much the same. They dump all their work and connections and run to the door – not caring a single bit about how they leave their old place behind. Another term for this would be “burning bridges” and I am sure you are familiar with that term and have heard about it before.
Whenever I left a job as an employee I made it a habit to document in detail what my tasks were and to provide information about certain parts of my job that might not be well known to others. For one I just felt that was the right thing to do and second I would feel bad otherwise by just leaving co-workers/friends behind without them knowing what to do. If you have worked with people for several years and you respect them and they respect you, it would look really awkward by just walking away.
How to spot a dump and run employee? This is fairly easy – even before somebody announces he is leaving. You can often identify these employees up front by looking at their overall work behavior and that is not in regards to the quality of work they deliver, but how willing they are to share knowledge and how well they document things they are in charge for. If somebody never shares any deeper insight in what their work is and how they are doing certain things, a business is at risk of losing out badly because it is hard to replace these employees and to pick up their work. By saying it is hard to replace these employees I rather mean that it is not really hard to replace them with another qualified person, but to fill that black hole that these type of employees created and to pull together critical information that keeps the business running.
Another simple indicator is the lack of documentation for the work an employee is responsible for. Often people joke around and call it job security by not sharing knowledge among the team and missing documentation for work procedures would be such an indicator. I do not call it job security because from an employer perspective these are high risk areas that can bring a business down. I would be way more concerned about these type of employees than others and if I would have the choice to reduce risk down the road, these employees would be high up on my list for review to address the risk. This does not mean that an employer should fire these employees, but it is critical to address risk in one way or the other.
My advice to employees is to be a team player and not to dump everything and run when leaving a job. This is especially important when you switch jobs inside the same firm because the bad reputation you generate in that moment will follow you around. Down the road people will always remember of how you did when switching from department A to department B and once your new manager gets a wind of this, you career might stall no matter how hard you try. You also need to be careful because former peers might be your new manager tomorrow. If you leave a company a bad reputation can follow, too. Even in larger cities you will be surprised how well some of your peers and managers are involved into networking and where they share knowledge like this. Don’t burn bridges, don’t be a dump and run employee.