Knowledge Retention and Transfer

Every organization worries about losing the knowledge and expertise of its key employees. These concerns have become even more acute as firms grapple with growing retirement trends and frequent downsizing, mergers, and acquisitions. How can organizations simplify the way in which employees share and record knowledge? And how can they convert the knowledge in people’s heads into processes and tools that the entire work force can use?

APQC has seen numerous organizations overcome these challenges. The most popular approaches include:

  • Communities of practice—Employees cross organizational boundaries to join groups where they share information and develop new ideas about key work topics and issues.
  • Lessons learned exercises—After completing projects, employees formally capture what they learned by asking: What was supposed to happen? What actually happened? Why was there a difference? And who else needs to know this information?
  • Mentoring and apprenticeship programs—These programs transfer tacit knowledge from experienced  to newer employees, especially in technical and engineering domains where talent is often in short supply.
  • Greater access to subject matter experts—Online directories, expertise locators, and other tools make it easy for employees to find people with the expertise they need, regardless of geographic and departmental boundaries. Experts help educate their colleagues and support diverse areas of the business in developing innovative solutions.
  • Storytelling programs—People tend to conceptualize and learn better through stories. Stories make abstract concepts concrete and demonstrate how employees can apply the skills they learn. They also help bridge generational gaps, communicate important information about an organization’s culture, and foster an organizational identity.
  • Leveraging retireesRetirees can provide needed skills and experience on specific projects, mentor newer employees, and participate in storytelling and training activities that allow them to share their experiences.

Don't let your most valuable knowledge stay in the hands of a few—who will eventually take that knowledge with them into retirement or other endeavors. Develop active strategies to retain and transfer that knowledge.

APQC can help. Contact us today.

Continue learning about knowledge management in APQC's Knowledge Base or by following the links below: