10 Practical Strategies for Transferring Knowledge at the Workplace


Knowledge transfer is the process of transferring specialised knowledge from one person or group to others.

For instance, when an experienced medical researcher retires, he brings valuable information acquired over the years with him. While it may be relatively easy to replace him with a younger successor, the knowledge he possesses cannot be easily replaced by others. Therefore, managers and companies have to take steps to actively transfer knowledge from mature, experienced workers to younger workers. Here are 12 practical strategies to help in establishing a process for knowledge transfer at the workplace.


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Strategy 1: Mentoring schemes
According to a study by Hirevue, 75 percent of Millennials want a mentor and 58 percent of them turn to baby boomers first for advice. A mentor is an experienced worker and having a mentoring scheme in the company allows the mentor an opportunity to share his expertise and knowledge with his mentees, which helps increase his sense of self-worth. Most successful people also have a mentor who can offer advice on what to do, how to do and why it is worth doing. Mentoring taps on the existing resources you already have and comes at no extra cost and can be considered as a way to develop employees too.

 
Strategy 2: Storyboards
A storyboard is a sequence of drawings with some directions and dialogue. Imagine a series of pictures that depict how a customer service representative should answer a call. There will be a guideline on how to address the callers and what to do when callers have to be put on hold. Similarly in the workplace, storyboards could be a visual representation of short processes that can be easily understood in a few pictures. They are useful for storing and transferring knowledge.

Strategy 3: Best Practices Sharing
For continuous improvement, sharing of best practices within the organisation is a good strategy. A good practice is something that has already been tried and tested and shown to work in certain ways. While each department may have their own specialties, there are learning points to be gleaned from best practices. One way to start to identify best practices is to look to those individuals or groups who are delivering excellent results in their area of expertise. Invite these employees to share their knowledge with others during meetings so that everyone can learn and those who shared can be recognised for their contributions.

 

Strategy 4: Process documentation
Process documentation has grown popular in the past decade largely due to the popularity of the quality certification movement and ISO. It involves preparing flowcharts and information depicting how work is done. Special circumstances with regards to workflow and processes are also noted in the documents. For instance in work that requires the operation and maintenance of machinery, a clear documentation of the procedures involved will ensure that employees and equipment can operate efficiently and effectively.

 

Strategy 5: Job aids
There is a lot of information delivered during training and it may be impossible to remember everything. Job aids can be charts or diagrams that help employees recall information easily. It helps to supplement training and employees do not feel overwhelmed by all the information if they can refer to a chart or reference diagram as and when they require the data.  For instance, a safety checklist can help site supervisors and workers alike conform to the safety guidelines and they know what to do in special circumstances.

 

Strategy 6: Communities of Practice
A community of practice is a group of people who share a passion or have a common interest and learn to refine their skills through frequent interaction. They usually come together to share information about a common issue or concern. These communities may meet in person or via online groups. A community of practice acts like an in-house professional society and connects employees in similar fields to share their concerns and exchange ideas. Older and experienced professionals can also share their experiences and transfer information and knowledge to others in the community.

 

Strategy 7: Storytelling
Great leaders have captured our hearts and imaginations when they use stories over data. Stories play a powerful role in getting us to understand important messages. While statistics, data and facts are important, stories are easy to remember and inspire us to action. According to psychologist Jerome Bruner, facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story. It is certainly one of the most effective ways for most people to learn and retain information. For instance, every company has its origin story; how Grab, Apple, Facebook evolved from their humble beginnings to multi-billion valued companies. Meaningful stories about your businesses is a way to bond with and transfer information to not only employees, but investors and customers.
 

 

Strategy 8: Job shadowing programmes
Job shadowing programmes allow new and inexperienced employee to observe, ask questions and learn from an older and experienced colleague. It is similar to a mentorship programme where older workers may share and pass on their knowledge and skills to the younger workers. For learning transfer to occur, managers play a huge part in designing clear objectives for job shadowing programmes. A checklist for what needs to be achieved at each stage of job observation has to be defined so that learners can make the most of their training and acquire the necessary knowledge.

 

Strategy 9: Case studies
Real-life examples of situation and circumstances that has impacted the organisation or business need to be recorded for future reference. When these are documented in case studies, they help employees learn from past mistakes and gain insights on what has worked in the past. As the saying goes, “Experience is the best teacher”, hence case studies are an effective way of transferring knowledge to others.

 

Strategy 10: Company Intranet
According to Wikipedia, an intranet is a private network accessible only to an organisation’s employees. Most employees use the Intranet to get information relating to their job functions or to connect with other staff that can help them. At the very basic level, employees use the Intranet to solve problems; how to claim expenses, standard procedures for responding to customer complaints and understand work benefits. Companies may utilise the Intranet to store information including workflows and processes.


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Topics: People Development (Part 1)

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