Substantive knowledge leaving organizations as boomers retire and the younger generation move from company to company is an endemic crisis that is acknowledged by upper management across industries but there is no clear way to resolve the issue for many organizations.
Knowledge is power. Organizations both small and large, knowledge silos are formed, intentionally or unintentionally, by policies and procedures limiting the access to information, lack of cross-training and backup, insufficient succession planning, and/or by employees who choose not to share what they know. Partly this is due to how companies view employees and vice versa. It is common knowledge that in order to have a great working relationship there must be a synergy between the entities. However, it is now more common for both companies and employees to see each other as a means to an end. This Machiavellian approach to a working relationship fosters the building of knowledge silos and results in a mad scramble to keep operations going when the people who know what/when/where/why and how to leave. A company’s business plan can be derailed by a key person/persons leaving the organization. In my opinion to counter this way of thinking and working an organization must implement a visible knowledge transfer program and continually nurture it to develop a culture that encourages and rewards knowledge sharing.
Organizations should seek methods of capturing substantive experience and disseminating it to other individuals with the company. a good way to do this is through the development of knowledge databases or knowledge transfer systems. This knowledge storage allows a company to on-board employees quicker, resolve issues faster, and become leaner and more agile as its inherent knowledge is housed in a collective body.
Whichever method a company chooses the ultimate goal is to prevent singular, specific knowledge and experience from walking out the door leaving a gap between past, present, and potential future.
David Shaw is an Associate of nStratagem. We have a great deal of experience in helping organizations through these issues and challenges. Feel free to view our Case Studies and contact us directly to see how we can help you.
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