In the business world, there is a saying: “You are only as good as your best employees.” What happens when the best and brightest retire or take advantage of opportunities beyond the organization? A strong knowledge transfer plan will help to ensure long-term success and growth for any company.
1. What Is a Knowledge Transfer Plan?
A knowledge transfer plan is a method of storing employees’ operational knowledge, strategies, and best practices in an easily accessible and replicable system. Its main objective is to improve employee performance and organizational success. A knowledge transfer plan records explicit, implicit, and tacit knowledge to achieve this.
Explicit knowledge is information that one can write down and share. In other words, it refers to all data that people or organizations can process, store and organize. This information is present in books, procedural manuals, databases, and learning videos.
Implicit knowledge is the application of explicit knowledge. Transferable skills from one job to another are examples of this kind of knowledge. People often gain implicit knowledge without direct awareness. Employees executing company best practices in daily work processes is an example of implicit knowledge.
Tacit knowledge results from personal experience. It may be more complicated to express verbally, but it can become apparent when achieving specific results. Tacit knowledge is a collection of knowledge accumulated over time that employees gather and communicate through shared work experiences.
2. Knowledge Transfer Strategies
A practical knowledge transfer plan begins with knowledge transfer strategies. Companies must identify what information is critical for operational productivity, growth, and profitability. Then, the next step is incorporating techniques to transfer this knowledge to employees.
Sorting data and organizing information helps to streamline the knowledge transfer plan. If talented resources leave the company, there will be a structure in place to reference the knowledge accumulated while knowledgeable employees were working with the company.
Documentation audits are a specific way of organizing existing information. Audits imply reviewing and editing filed data for operational value. This process aims to discard outdated information and collect and store current and valuable information. Complex data is simplified so that it can be easier for employees to process.
There are a variety of ways to transfer organizational knowledge. Verbal communication, literature, technology (such as the utilization of spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and informational guides), and other methods are functional to sharing information. We will discuss these in detail below.
Feedback and Reviews
Knowledge transfer plan is an ongoing process. Internal and external perception can help management identify strengths and weaknesses in the knowledge transfer plan. Feedback from employees and clients also gives management insight into the plan’s impact on a broader scope.
It’s essential to get data from customer service calls as well to help employees identify best practices for your business. Customers are the backbone of a business, and all company revenue flows from positive feedback.
With reviews, employees can identify where improvements and adjustments are possible or necessary. If clients are satisfied with a service, it can mean that the staff is qualified, and so it is likely that the knowledge transfer plan is effective. Management can also examine work strategies to find best practices or, conversely, methods that no longer meet the company’s needs.
3. Effective Knowledge Transfer Systems
Results will attest to the effectiveness of a particular knowledge transfer strategy. A successful knowledge transfer system has measurable data and concrete results. There are different ways to ensure knowledge transfer systems are working well.
Knowledge Sharing Platform
Using technology to store knowledge is a dynamic method. It ensures information is up to date, accurate, and easily transferable to employees. A platform for knowledge transfer can streamline business processes, so you don’t have to do all the work on the management side.
Consistent training is critical to keep employees, management, and leadership plugged into the knowledge transfer system. Whether onboarding or recurrent, consistent, high-quality training from the start will ensure that knowledge is being shared properly.
Mentorship is another effective method of sharing organizational knowledge. To set up a mentorship program, you can have senior employees work with lower-level employees to share knowledge.
Employees learn through the program how they can execute operational procedures from someone who already knows the ropes. This execution can help to close the learning gap that often exists between experienced employees and entry-level talent. It also motivates lower-level employees to be able to become a mentor themselves someday.
Internal Social Media
Internal social media means creating a digital community within your workplace. This resource can be more relaxed, yet it is vital because it allows employees to share newfound knowledge in real-time with other employees. It can help address potential issues and identify solutions that the established knowledge transfer plan had not contemplated.
Allowing new hires to shadow employees who have worked for the company for a while speeds up the training process and creates connections throughout the company. It also alleviates the apprehension a new employee can feel when they start a new job. Shadowing allows new talent to ask questions as they learn about their new position.
Unique Leadership Opportunities
Providing a unique leadership opportunity to your employees motivates them and allows them to share knowledge with others. For example, having specific team leaders for each section of the company enables regular employees to be promoted to a position where they can answer common questions from newer employees while management focuses more on internal processes.
The workforce has changed considerably over the years. Many of the founders and veterans in specific job markets and career fields are retiring. Talented young employees are exposed to numerous opportunities that inspire frequent job transitioning. Organizations need to develop a knowledge transfer plan to keep the information, best practices, and operational guidelines relevant, efficient, and transferable amongst the employees.
Incorporating knowledge transfer strategies that are effective and accessible via a shared platform will help to preserve significant knowledge and ensure that the company brand and legacy remain intact for years to come.