One of the best scenes in Star Trek was when Spock would place his fingers on someone’s face and chant: “My mind to your mind. Your thoughts to my thoughts.” This inevitably resulted in an exchange of critical information that saved the Enterprise and her crew. While in contemporary times we may lack the telepathic powers of 23rd Century Vulcans, we can do a lot to protect our businesses from brain drain and the loss of human capital with knowledge transfer tools and techniques.
Knowledge transfer is an urgent issue and organizations and their HR teams can’t wait for the recession to end before they begin to move forward on this critical initiative.
- Lay the foundation – Perform an analysis of critical skills and key knowledge areas that your business will require for business success over the next two to five years. Next, analyze your current workforce and perform a gap analysis, considering normal turnover including potential retirement of traditional and boomer generation employees. Finally, examine the existing social networks both formal and informal that already exist.
- Get executive support – Identify executive-level champions and share your findings from the analysis with them. Knowledge transfer can’t be seen soley as an HR program if it is to gain acceptance as a strategic initiative and capture resources necessary for its success. Strong advocacy from the top is essential and will serve to stimulate the interest and participation of other valuable stakeholders.
- Roll out a program and communicate, communicate, communicate! – Using information you’ve gathered through your analysis and leveraging your support base, design a program to show the benefits of knowledge management. One option that has worked in many organizations is mentorship. Here matures and boomers are engaged to transmit deep knowledge gained over years of work and share it Gen X and Y colleagues. Along with the program, prepare to communicate with stakeholders early and often using a variety of media. This is a critical engagement factor that will pay real dividends.
- Build in the use of social networking tools to facilitate knowledge transfer – Internal social networks can bridge generational divides. Stereotypes to the contrary, boomers are embracing social networking and becoming as comfortable in using social media as their Gen X and Gen Y colleagues. Build on this shared affordance.
Knowledge transfer is a high leverage point that can give your enterprise an unbeatable competitive edge. Spock would approve!