Your company runs on specialized and proprietorial knowledge. However, if your company is like most, the principal repository for that essential information is employees. When an employee moves on or retires, the knowledge they hold in their mind walks out with them.
This has two consequences.
First is that new employees often have to start from scratch, remaking processes and procedures, ferreting out valuable customers, and picking the brains of long-term employees.
The other consequence is that you, the owner, become the primary repository for all company knowledge. This means you can never step away – not even for a vacation. Someone will need you to answer a question or share information about a client.
Creating a knowledge transfer system can solve both of these situations.
Two Challenges in Setting up a Knowledge Transfer System
It is simple enough to create a knowledge transfer policy. You may have one already. You may tell employees to write down their processes, keep specialized client information in the CRM, or train new employees as they come in.
It’s one thing to have a policy – it’s another thing to get employees to do the action.
Knowledge transfer is challenging to implement in most companies because it is “everyone’s job,” making it no one’s job.
Additionally, just having a policy with no process or procedure creates inconsistent results. Some employees may be excellent at training those they work with – while others may not have the nack or may be too busy to mentor effectively. This results in a poorly trained workforce.
Take These Four Steps
Here are the four steps you must take in establishing an effective knowledge transfer system:
1. Make establishing a knowledge transfer system a priority for a particular group within your company.
This could be the job of HR to implement, or you could assign it to a team of company executives. If you have trainers within the company, they may want to take on this role.
2. Survey your employees.
Find out why it’s hard to implement a knowledge transfer system. What are the barriers they encounter? Could an effective system help them to do their job more effectively? Why? What do they see as pros and cons for knowledge transfer?
You may find that some employees see holding on to their specialized knowledge as job security. However, they also may be plagued by people asking them questions or may constantly have to train new people because of the non-existent system. It could be that an employee wants an assistant, and a knowledge transfer system can help them attain that goal more quickly.
Your reasons for wanting a knowledge transfer system may differ from your employees, but you may find some common ground by surveying them and understanding the challenges they face.
3. Create processes and procedures.
Set up knowledge transfer processes and procedures that address the issues your employees face while ensuring vital information is kept within the company.
4. Train employees on the system.
Many companies end at step three and assume employees will go ahead and use the new processes and procedures. This is how you get a well-organized company in theory, but in reality, chaos reigns.
After your processes and procedures are built, ensure employees are trained on them. Dummy run them. Then ask all of your employees to actually document their work.
Knowledge transfer is one of those things that falls into the background and only comes to the fore in an emergency – or when the boss is trying to take a break. If you are hoping to exit in the next five to ten years or just want an uninterrupted vacation, it is time to establish a workable knowledge transfer system in your company.
You don’t need to establish this new process on your own. Contact Business Success Consulting Group. We are here to help.