Knowledge transfer is now a critical issue for many companies. With the baby boomer generation currently retiring in their droves, the organizational spotlight has well and truly been thrown on knowledge management. Finding effective ways to transfer the accumulated company knowledge of baby boomers, or indeed any departing employee, is now more important than ever. And in today’s sophisticated and complex digital workplaces, a quick chat with an outgoing colleague is no longer sufficient to ensure the smooth transfer of knowledge. Businesses need to develop smarter, more systematic ways to capture and transfer all that key data and information before it simply walks out the door for good. In this article, we look at how a knowledge transfer template facilitated through the company intranet is one very practical tool that can help in this important battle. First though, let’s look at what knowledge transfer is and why it’s so important.
What Is Knowledge Transfer?
Knowledge transfer is the processes by which organizations share and exchange knowledge, expertise, specific occupational information and accumulated wisdom between colleagues and employees.
There are different types of organizational knowledge: explicit knowledge is the step-by-step processes one needs to complete a specific task. This type of knowledge is comparatively easy to transfer, usually in the form of manuals, databases or standard operating procedures. Tacit knowledge, however, is a far more slippery concept. It refers to on-the-job experiences, accumulated wisdom and insights and is much more difficult to capture and transfer.
An effective organizational knowledge transfer system needs to address both forms of knowledge, which are of equal importance.
Why Knowledge Transfer Is Important
Think for a moment about what would happen in your business if, due to ill health, a key member of staff was to suddenly leave before a handover could occur? Would you be able to cope? Could your company transition a colleague into the role with the minimum amount of impact on key deliverables? For far too many companies the answer to these questions is at best, perhaps, and at worst, no.
What’s more, it’s estimated that up to 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day in the US, that’s an incredible 4 million people every year. And unlike younger generations of employees, those currently retiring or approaching retirement have often been with the same employer for many years. As a result, they have a wealth of tangible and intangible knowledge, expertise and wisdom, the depth of which is usually only fully appreciated once they’re gone.
Businesses can no longer ignore the issue of knowledge management. Its potential impact on productivity, competitiveness and the efficient and effective management of operations is obvious.
But with so much already on the corporate to-do list, how do companies begin to tackle this important issue? Well, it’s no surprise that many companies have consigned knowledge management to the ‘it’s too difficult today, I’ll worry about it tomorrow’ list. However, it doesn’t have to be such a tortuous process. Using your existing company intranet, it’s possible to set up a knowledge transfer template that will be a very important first step on the road to effective management of knowledge transfer.
How To Create A Knowledge Transfer Template
So, what exactly is a knowledge transfer template? Well, essentially it’s a list of questions or areas that need to be captured for an effective transfer of knowledge. It can be as detailed or as simple as you like depending on the role or project. It could take the form of a straightforward checklist, or it might have multiple layers of detail.
A knowledge transfer template, for example, could be created using an intranet’s, drag and drop forms builder. One of the benefits of using this approach is that you can make sure that before the form is submitted, all of the required template fields have been filled out. You could also use a simple workflow to manage the review and then sign off that the knowledge transfer was completed satisfactorily.
Alternatively, you can utilize an intranet-embedded G Suite or Office 365 app to create an Excel-style spreadsheet as your template. The great advantage of embedding a Google or MS Office app in this way is that important contextual information can be conveyed alongside the template. This could be instructions on how to complete the template through to links to key documents and files relating to the knowledge being transferred, or even how-to videos and podcasts that can support the actual transfer.