Do you want to halt the practice of company knowledge leaving the company when employees leave your organization? Then incorporating Knowledge Transfer strategies in your Knowledge Management System will do it for you.
In an organizational setup, when experienced employees transfer their ideas, knowledge, information, and experience to the other employees replacing them, it is understood as knowledge transfer.
It revolves around practices of organizing, creating, capturing, and distributing knowledge in an organization in such a manner that future users can have easy and effective access to them.
What is Knowledge Transfer?
Knowledge transfer is the word that holds the key to solving the problem of loss of knowledge and best practices a company faces, with the exit of an employee.
Knowledge transfer essentially aims at capturing the knowledge, things learned on the job, solutions to different kinds of problems already faced, and so forth, so future employees can use them and make their working more efficient.
It is a method of passing on information from one part of your business to another. It is essential for a business as it promotes innovation, encourages collaborative efforts among employees, and nurtures understanding in the business.
It is also about transferring the knowledge in peoples’ minds to a system so that it can be effectively managed and put to future use. It aids in bringing the right information, to the right person, at the right time.
Why is Knowledge Transfer Important?
With the pandemic taking centre stage and companies downsizing due to the economic crisis, knowledge management is becoming increasingly important to businesses.
It is because, when people leave an organization, they take their accumulated knowledge along with them.
This knowledge could be critical to the company, and other employees might not have an understanding of it. They also take with them years of experience, knowledge, and whatever they have learned while on the job. A person newly initiated into the process will take some time to get acclimatized to the nitty-gritty of the job.
It is where knowledge transfer and having a proper system to collect, aggregate, and store data, gains utmost importance. Training replacement costs the company time, energy, and money, and having a system in place saves all of this.
A knowledge management system makes it easy to capture, store, retrieve, and share data in a matter of minutes, which is what every company is looking for. New employees will not be wasting their time on similar sorts of issues that past employees had faced, and hence their productivity will be more fruitful to the organization.
Knowledge transfer ensures a team-learning culture in an organization that is quite effective in continuous improvement of the organization. It impeded the staff from reinventing the wheels and hence saves their time to make them more proficient.
Now, as we hope you would have understood what knowledge transfer is and why it is essential for contemporary business models, let us delve into its different types-
Types of Knowledge Transfer
Though knowledge transfer does mean the transfer of knowledge, information, and ideas, the concept of it is entirely different from training.
It has more to do with tapping into the employees’ flexibility to adapt to jobs that require different skill-sets and their expertise in applying available information. To make this information available to employees, organizations have a system in place to capture, aggregate, organize and store it for future use.
There are two types of knowledge transfer.
1. Explicit Knowledge Transfer
It is the knowledge that can be written down or recorded, shared, and understood like information found in manuals and databases.
It is the knowledge that can be understood by reading a book or talking to a person who already knows about it. That is why this type of knowledge transfer occurs explicitly.
2. Tacit Knowledge Transfer
It is the type of knowledge that is hard to pass on to. It is the knowledge a person acquires over the years from experience, observation, and being in particular situations and finding innovative ways to solve these problems by trial and error, and research.
It is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to put into words and is best understood from one’s own experience in the job. It is the knowledge that organizations these days are trying to collate and make available to other people who face up to similar challenges.
Both explicit and tacit knowledge has a role in knowledge transfer; it is tacit knowledge that is difficult to verbalize and warrants more effort and interaction to accomplish.
To have a robust knowledge management system that can channelize effective knowledge transfer, it is essential to incorporate effective knowledge transfer strategies. So, let us have a look upon them here and now-
Knowledge Transfer Strategies
Knowledge transfer is not a simple process. To begin with, the company must be clear about critical knowledge that needs to be recorded but also the best way to record the information.
It is because a company has employees whose approaches to learning are different and different cross-sections of employees have different levels of understanding concepts.
The employees are also from different age categories and hence will have different levels of familiarity with technology.
All such little details must be given a lot of thought before arriving at one or a combination of strategies to get the knowledge across to the people in the company that require it.
A few of the knowledge transfer strategies would be:
- Using podcasts and webinars
- Making instructional Videos
- Using simulations
- Incorporating community of practice
- Offering on the Job Training
- Blogging by Experts
- FAQ’s on Company Intranet Sites
- Mentoring and Coaching
- Work shadowing and paired work
- Story Telling and documentation
Executing a Knowledge Transfer Plan for an Organization
Every organization must have a knowledge transfer plan ready to facilitate the percolation of knowledge among all the employees.
It also helps in making knowledge available and accessible to all the employees in the organization. Knowledge transfer is aimed at creating a more informed, cooperative, and aligned workforce.
A lot of thought goes into the drawing up of a knowledge transfer plan.
A few things that should find a place in a good knowledge transfer plan are:
1. Identifying and Deciding the Knowledge that Needs to be Gathered
The initial step of a knowledge transfer plan is to identify essential knowledge that needs to be retained and the people who possess such information. Below are a few pointers to make it easier to arrive at what to gather and from whom.
The answers to these questions will get you started on the knowledge transfer plan.
- Identify the go-to persons
- Identify things that only these persons know
- Can another employee handle the job if the said employee is unavailable?
- How is the team dependant on them?
- What are the tasks that only they can handle?
2. Obtaining the Necessary Knowledge
Once you know who to contact and what information to gather, the actual task of obtaining the information from the identified sources is next on your list. Obtaining, collating, organizing, and saving the information on a spreadsheet needs to be done next.
While updating the sheet, it is crucial to break the information down into the following categories.
- Who are you collecting the knowledge from?
- The individual and their criticality perform the critical task.
- Do other people know how to perform the said task?
- How does the ignorance of the knowledge or technology impact the business?
- Resources needed to share the information.
3. Sharing the Knowledge Transfer Plan
This step is all about how you disseminate the gathered information to the right people to use as and when required.
Advancements in technology have made it possible to share information with people in several different ways.
Other ways are not entirely technology-dependent, which can also be effectively used to inform people. Below are a few ways that have been identified for this purpose.
- On the Job Training
- Paired Work
- Work Shadowing
- Instructor-Led Learning
4. Evaluating the Knowledge Transfer Plan
Finally, when all has been put in place and has started rolling, it is always a wise thing to evaluate the progress and efficiency of any process that has been adopted by a company.
The same is true for the knowledge transfer plan as well. It would be a good idea to go back and ask yourself if you have achieved the initial goal you set out to achieve.
This will help in bringing minor changes to the process where you think it’s necessary.
This will also help build on the experience to make the process more robust and effective in due course.
5. Using the Strategy and Technical Know-how for Ongoing Efforts
The knowledge in the company keeps growing, and the database of your small endeavour keeps accumulating more information.
It is, therefore, useful to remember that the process of knowledge transfer is an ongoing one, and your plan should be able to accommodate the developments.
Having an eye on the future while building the process will always come in handy.
The onus is also on the company to encourage employees to use the knowledge transfer plan to its full potential.
Benefits of Knowledge Transfer
1.Prevents Knowledge Loss
The knowledge that your old employees gained while working in the organization will be shared with new employees, and hence there will be no knowledge loss.
2. Helps Establish a Central Source of Information
Having a Knowledge Management System that incorporates the knowledge transfer strategy creates a central source of info that every employee can access.
3. Minimize Time and Effort Spent by Employees Trying to Find Information
With a knowledge transfer strategy, organizations can ensure the easiest process of finding and using relevant info at times of need.
4. Increases Productivity
The time of employee will not be wasted in solving those issues that past employees had faced earlier and resolved. This will optimize the productivity of employees as well as the organization.
5. Improves Adaptability and Agility
By having access to the critical knowledge associated with an organization, the workforce will always have more adaptability and agility.
6. Reduces Training Cost for New Hires
In addition to all this, with knowledge transfer strategies, organizations can save their training costs. It also plays a pivotal role in removing the limitations of time and space in communications.
Finally, knowledge transfer is effective in encouraging employees to experience the importance of knowledge sharing.
Having a knowledge transfer process in place is the need of the hour in today’s ever-changing job scene. People are always looking for better opportunities and frequently changing jobs.
In this context, a company should be able to replace critical people without much effort. It is also easier for the company and the employees if they can find the information they are looking for without running from pillar to post. It saves a lot of time, effort, and money.
The knowledge transfer plan is a boon for any company as new hires can be quickly acclimatized to the requirements of the job, and they always have something handy to fall back upon in case of doubts.
It also encourages employees in one department to know what is happening in another department and learn about different processes in the company.
How important do you consider knowledge transfer in an organization?