The other day I attended a business event with AustCham. One of the people I met there asked me a simple question: ‘How do you know that once the Transfer of Knowledge plan is in place that it actually works?’
This is an interesting question, and of course depends a lot on the actual information being transferred and often also the method in which the Transfer of Knowledge is conducted. In many cases it makes sense to develop a list of questions such as the below. This list of questions would be first given to the Subject Matter Expert whose knowledge it is that you wish to retain, and then to the new staff member once the Transfer of Knowledge project is complete, to ensure that the information has indeed been transferred.
An example list of questions may look like this:
- Name the most common words, acronyms, and terms used in your company, and in the specific role.
- List the steps in all key processes the role is required to complete and explain briefly why each one of them is important.
- List the common challenges any beginner in this role faces.
- Troubleshooting: Describe how to troubleshoot the most common issues faced, and list the items to check in order to resolve it. Within the process of resolving these issues, list who should be contacted, and why (including all points of escalation). Also note the level of priority for each issue (i.e. an issue vs. a crisis).
- List all role related resources: documents, experts, samples, websites, etc. and where and how to find them.
- For each role specific task define what constitutes ‘complete’, and what would constitute an ‘excellent’ level of delivery.
- Where applicable define the standards or rules for each role specific task.
Once a new hire has been thoroughly trained and transitioned into a role, their responses to the above should replicate those of the initial Subject Matter Expert. If this is not the case, then a gap analysis will need to be conducted to determine where the Transfer of Knowledge has failed and why.
Of course we always need to ‘begin with the end in mind’ – and the end goal is to ensure valuable Intellectual Property is not lost when key staff members leave the organisation. Successful Transfer of Knowledge ensures that the impact of staff transitions is minimal.
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