Knowledge Transfer Plan: 5 Ways to Use It Properly
Failing to plan is planning to fail – we all know this saying. Whenever you are about to accomplish something, planning is the first stage, often the most important one.
In such essential matters as knowledge transfer, having a fireproof plan is crucial. It will help you achieve success while not missing any important detail.
Image Credit: destination innovation
What is Knowledge Transfer?
As the name suggests, knowledge transfer means sharing knowledge between company employees, also known as tribal knowledge. To be more precise, knowledge transfer involves gathering necessary information from key personnel and making it available to other people in the company.
Why and when do you need knowledge transfer? There are many cases when vital information may need to be shared:
- A key employee leaving the company or being transferred to a different department
- Onboarding of new employees
- Major company restructure with people transferred between departments
- Prevention of bottlenecks resulting from critical knowledge by having a single employee
In other words, you need knowledge transfer, on the one hand, to ensure business continuity even when essential employees take vacations or sick leaves, and, on the other hand, to empower all your team members with the knowledge required to do their jobs properly.
How to create a knowledge transfer plan for your business?
On average, an employee stays with the company for about four years. Of course, you should boost employee loyalty and retention, but it’s best to be prepared.
With a proper plan, you can be sure no critical information is lost, and the person stepping into the vacant position has everything they need to do their duties.
Use our tips to build a working knowledge transfer plan:
- Identify the knowledge to be transferred. From the volume of information accumulated in each department and at each level of the hierarchy, select the knowledge that is universally useful and important. Typical examples include the main operational flows, project designs, source code, established practices, and data used in evidence-based HR. At the C-level, fundamental knowledge may refer to access to sensitive data, legal and compliance documentation, and partner relationships.
- Create a knowledge repository. Establish a space where company knowledge can be stored, updated, and accessed. It can include various types of knowledge media: documentation storage, a comprehensive FAQ page, or a collection of training materials. Such a repository should have permission-based access to ensure that everyone can browse only the materials they are authorized to see.
- Ensure knowledge base update. Once you have identified the knowledge you need to capture and preserve, ensure it is kept up to date. Appoint critical experts responsible for their field of expertise to update the corresponding resources regularly.
- Introduce knowledge transfer activities. Once you have identified the knowledge to be transferred and established its formats, plan and structure the actual activities. Depending on the situation, they can include mentorship programs, self-training, onboarding of new employees, and knowledge transfer protocols in case of termination.
A knowledge base software is one of the best solutions to optimize the process.
5 ways to properly use the knowledge transfer plan
OK, now you have collected the valuable company knowledge and created a plan for its transfer. Let’s see how to use it most effectively.
Online training is helpful at any stage of the employee’s relationship with the company – from initial onboarding to regular qualification training. Besides, the company may introduce one-time special training sessions, for example, when a new internet safety policy is implemented or compliance rules become applicable.
Choose one of the training tools and ensure that your employees’ knowledge is always up to date.
Most often, mentoring is used during new employees’ onboarding. No matter how skilled and experienced a new employee may be, they still need guidance in knowing the procedures and flows adopted in the company. This is where mentorship can be instrumental.
Mentors’ work is a form of knowledge transfer, too. By introducing new employees to how the company functions, they empower newcomers with the knowledge and information they need to work independently. Mentoring can be vital in remote teams, where contacts are limited. A mentor assigned to the new employee during their remote onboarding becomes the point of contact for any issues.
Working in Pairs
Pair work is widely used in software development to encourage knowledge sharing and improve product quality. Known as pair programming, it is a work method where two people are working on the same task. One person is doing the actual programming, while the other is monitoring and inspecting.
Partners exchange knowledge and various tips and tricks they accumulated during their career experience in pair work. As a result, both learn from each other, thus increasing their knowledge levels. At the same time, the task is completed with high quality.
Internship for New Employees
An internship is often considered low-skill unpaid work for students or trainees. These days are long gone, and now interns should be involved in real work and get paid for it. They usually work under close supervision by mentors who introduce them to their field of responsibility. With the mentor’s help and guidance, the intern progresses from more straightforward tasks to more advanced ones, gradually becoming an independent professional.
Interns may join the company with some theoretical knowledge of their professions, and mentors help them shape their skills and get practical experience. When the company hires interns, it teaches them its unique ways of working.
In addition to being an effective knowledge transfer method, internship shows high employee retention rates. Interns tend to stay longer with the company – their five-year retention rate is 51.8% compared to 35.8% for non-interns.
The most successful people learn throughout their entire careers. Even brilliant professionals can always find new things to know in this rapidly developing world. New technologies and solutions appear regularly, and you should never stop learning to keep abreast with the progress.
For any professional, there are always new learning opportunities. New frameworks and tools are created for software developers to make coding more efficient; for marketing experts – new CRMs, lead management systems, and social media management tools; for engineers – technological innovations.
For a company, it is imperative to encourage its employees’ education. There is more than one way a company can support an employee’s desire to learn – by taking over all or some of the cost, allowing time off or a flexible schedule for the duration of the education course, or arranging in-house training with known experts. Such educational activities increase the overall volume of knowledge in the company.
The good idea is to support the employees willing to share the knowledge they gained at external training courses with their colleagues. Help them organize master classes or webinars to bring the knowledge and practices they learned to others.
Knowledge Shared is Knowledge Squared
Knowledge transfer is critical to keep the business continuity. At the same time, it is always a two-way street, where both sides gain something. By implementing and maintaining a healthy knowledge transfer culture, the company gets experienced, skilled, and confident employees it can always rely on.
Julia Serdiuk is an Outreach Specialist at HelpCrunch, an innovative platform for building relationships with customers. She is a seasoned traveler and yoga enthusiast who appreciates life and believes in the bright future of our planet.