Knowledge Transfer: Your Secret Weapon for a Stronger, Smarter Workplace
As more Americans near retirement age, the current workforce is experiencing a generational shift. In this transformation, millennials and GenZ form a larger part of the talent pool. According to statistics, millennials make up 35% of the current US workforce. Meanwhile, trends show that 27% of the US workforce will be from Gen Z by 2025.
For your organization, this development has significant implications. Your senior and executive employees with invaluable knowledge are set to retire, creating a need for succession. Here, having an effective knowledge transfer plan can help you preserve and pass on this critical expertise. But first, what is knowledge transfer?
What is Knowledge Transfer?
Knowledge transfer is an organizational process that identifies, documents, and distributes information. It involves exchanging knowledge among the company’s workers or departments. Simply put, knowledge transfer is sharing valuable information and ideas within your organization to retain business-critical skills for years.
One critical part of knowledge transfer is applying newly acquired knowledge and skills in different contexts. The goal is to effectively put the acquired knowledge into practice so that company expertise remains relevant and adaptable.
Beyond application, another important part of knowledge transfer is its nature. That is, knowledge transfer comes in two forms: explicit and tacit.
- Explicit knowledge: This knowledge type is easy to collect and distribute, whether on a physical document, audio clip, or visual file. It often has step-by-step procedures to make it accessible and transferable.
- Tacit knowledge: Tacit knowledge is a product of experience, making it more challenging to maintain and disseminate. It focuses more on “gained” insights from past successes and failures. As such, it enables you to better understand potential problems and their solutions.
Why is Knowledge Transfer Important for your Organization?
Knowledge transfer is a strategic plan for sustaining business-critical skills and knowledge from one workforce generation to another. It also helps you address skills gaps in your workforce.
Here are some benefits of having a knowledge transfer plan.
1. Collects and centralizes organizational knowledge
Knowledge transfer involves creating a structured database of lessons learned, innovative solutions, and best practices. It prevents the loss of vital information, especially when key employees leave or retire. This database serves as your “company bible” to guide all employees’ actions and decisions, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding procedures and quality standards.
2. Improves problem-solving and conflict resolution
Shared resources enable teams to have accessible insights on addressing challenges. Not only does this accessibility help decision-making, but it also guides you in resolving conflicts regarding projects and other work-related disagreements.
3. Efficiently trains new employees
Onboarding new employees becomes more streamlined with a solid knowledge transfer plan. New workers can learn from the wisdom of their predecessors and apply best practices more quickly. Plus, your new hires can tap into the documented knowledge base anytime if they’re still unclear about the organization’s history, culture, and processes.
As a result, you can reduce the learning curve and empower new employees to make meaningful contributions from Day One.
4. Nurtures future leaders
Knowledge transfer initiatives such as mentoring programs equip emerging talents with the needed expertise for managerial roles. For example, seasoned leaders can pass down strategic perspectives to mentees. Knowledge transfer also imparts leadership philosophies for talented employees to become more effective leaders.
Ultimately, these programs can increase your organization’s bench strength or ability to immediately fill vacant positions with talented in-house staff. Then, you can have a smooth leadership transition⎯ready to tackle future challenges.
5. Increases employee retention
Employees who feel you value their knowledge are more likely to stay. Implementing a knowledge transfer process fosters a sense of belonging and professional growth, as it shows your organization’s commitment to employee development. These factors can translate into increased employee retention rates and reduced costly turnover of valuable talent.
How to Develop a Knowledge Transfer Plan
A robust knowledge transfer plan ensures the continuity of business expertise. Here are steps you can take to jumpstart an effective knowledge transfer process.
1. Identify the people with essential knowledge
Employees who possess critical knowledge should already be on your radar, because their unique insights, expertise, and experiences contribute to your company’s success. For instance, seasoned engineers with an extensive understanding of proprietary technology can be an excellent knowledge source.
2. Collect and store important knowledge
Once you’ve identified the key knowledge holders, the next step is to gather and document their valuable insights.
For example, you can initiate the creation of comprehensive documentation of best practices or an archive of project reports and case studies. In coding standards, you can require your software development team to maintain a repository of code snippets and standards that can help ensure consistent quality.
3. Distribute the knowledge to all employees
Organizational knowledge only develops when it’s available to all employees. So, you need to ensure that everyone can access company databases for your knowledge transfer plan to be effective. This step may involve developing a user-friendly knowledge management system or an intranet where employees can easily access relevant information.
4. Encourage employees to share knowledge
Encouraging a culture of knowledge sharing within your organization can enhance the efficacy of your plan. You’ll need a standard procedure for future knowledge sharing to ensure everyone can contribute.
You can also facilitate better tracking and accessibility by creating a company wiki or knowledge database. Consider an online platform where employees can easily contribute their insights and solutions for a seamless knowledge transfer.
Preserving Essential Company Wisdom
Effective knowledge transfer is more than a strategic choice. It’s a lifeline to success in the current business landscape, wherein more seniors and executives are near retirement age. Embracing a culture of knowledge-sharing retains expertise and empowers every employee to contribute to the company’s growth and sustainable success.
Reach out to EmployTest to help you know how you can bridge the knowledge gap in your company. We offer pre-employment assessment tests that can help you identify lacking skills and craft an effective knowledge transfer plan. Check out our sample pre-employment test today.