Knowledge transfer is essential for organizations and teams. This is especially the case when a team member leaves a project. Each employee possesses unique skill sets that can help their team. If that information or skill leaves the team, it can put a visible dent in a team's everyday processes. To minimize this, organizations can set procedures to ensure they capture knowledge. This involves having employees share as much knowledge as possible before they leave the team.
While employees leave organizations all the time, organizations still struggle with establishing knowledge transfer processes. Given the value of each member’s expertise, these are essential. They can add value to team projects, streamline internal employee transfers, and help with onboarding processes.
To help you create a knowledge transfer process, this article will cover the basics of things you need to do. More specifically, it delves into what knowledge transfer is, the benefits of knowledge transfer, and what steps and tips you can take on board to ensure knowledge handover is managed effectively.
What is Knowledge Transfer?
Knowledge transfer refers to a system that enables knowledge, ideas, and experience to be shared. In organizational contexts, knowledge transfer refers to a system that captures employee knowledge and shares it within organizations. Knowledge sharing is often done between employees, employees and teams, and cross-departmentally.
Benefits of Knowledge Transfer
Establishing an effective knowledge transfer process can benefit your organization in multiple ways.
As workplace collaboration can generate the best solutions, it should not be overlooked. Knowledge transferring places collaboration as a key driver of knowledge. They encourage employees to put their heads together to accumulate and share valuable information.
Additionally, knowledge transfers can establish an intra-company community that prioritizes learning. When employees help each other learn new things, it builds a strong sense of community. This is especially the case if the knowledge shared makes others’ jobs easier.
Using knowledge transfers can also help you perpetuate a learning culture within your organization. If people see the benefits of knowledge sharing, they are more likely to lean on each other for support. This can help build a tight-knit workplace that facilitates and embraces learning.
It’s not always necessary to innovate in every aspect of your business. Sometimes, employees achieve the best outcomes when they use their colleagues’ best practices. Oftentimes, sticking to a trialed and tested method rather than trying to reinvent the wheel serves your company best.
Plenty of companies have saved thousands of dollars through knowledge sharing. By asking employees to create courses and train their colleagues, you omit having to invest in third-party training. This can help you cut costs while also saving you precious time.
When issues arise within your organization, internal information can often help you find a viable solution. Yet, without an established repository of knowledge, you may not know where to look. This may impede you by slowing down decision-making. Having to seek out multiple external and internal sources for information can cause information overload. This can make problem-solving a tedious process.
Using a knowledge transfer process, you can enable effective decision-making based on employees’ experience. This can improve results and make searching for information easy. This can boost your company’s efficiency while ensuring favorable results.
Information is an important asset for companies. With an effective knowledge transfer process, you can reduce the loss of valuable knowledge. Without such knowledge, your employees may employ inefficient and time-consuming practices.
How To Create an Effective Knowledge Transfer Process
Given the aforementioned benefits, it’s easy to understand why you may want to establish a knowledge transfer process. However, it's important to note that an inadequate knowledge transfer process can do more harm than good. For your knowledge transfers to prove fruitful, you have to make sure it’s done correctly. To ensure a compelling knowledge transfer process, we highlight 5 crucial steps you need to take below.
Step 1: Collect Knowledge
The first step in distributing knowledge is to collect existing knowledge from current employees. You can do this by encouraging brainstorming sessions and looking into past projects. These may provide you and your employees with (in)tangible knowledge. Once you’ve accumulated a wide array of knowledge from various employees and departments, you have to collect and documented it.
If you’re looking to establish a company that generates knowledge continuously, you can ask employees for help with company problems. If you do this on an ongoing basis, you can foster an environment that breeds ideas and innovation. This is because by providing people with the opportunity to share ideas, they’re more likely to come up with insightful knowledge regularly.
Step 2: Establish Ways of Storing Knowledge
While obtaining knowledge is important, storing it is crucial. Managing knowledge goes beyond installing physical file cabinets or using Google Drive folders. It requires a firm infrastructure that makes it accessible for employees to obtain knowledge.
One way to do this is by using a knowledge base. This is where knowledge generated by your business can be found, viewed, and absorbed by employees. Knowledge bases can be diverse and may involve CRM systems, how-to videos, and reports. With such a system in place, you can organize and deliver your information quickly and hassle-free.
Step 3: Share the Knowledge
After setting up a knowledge base, you have to make employees aware of this resource. One way to do this is by setting up a system that facilitates knowledge transfers.
This system may involve various elements, including a guide on how to share knowledge, a document management system, and follow-up procedures. These tools ensure that information is being delivered to the right people in an accessible way.
Step 4: Implement the Knowledge
Having widely available knowledge is great –– but making sure it is successful in practice it is just as important.
With metric-tracking tools, you can assess the success of your knowledge using key performance indicators (KPIs). Such tools can help you reevaluate which knowledge is valuable and what parts of it you should tweak or scrapped. By being open to reconsidering what works and what doesn’t, you can perpetuate a cycle of knowledge that improves over time.
Step 5: Add Onto Existing Knowledge
Once you have your knowledge transferring systems in place, ensure you’re constantly adding valuable expertise to it. By seeing what works and what doesn’t, you can innovate continuously. This ensures that your business never stagnates when it comes to idea and solution generation.
Documenting your project on a granular level is essential if you want to capture valuable insights at every step. Without proper documentation, it becomes very easy to lose essential knowledge. As such, taking notes at each step ensures that the knowledge derived from each project is well-rounded and actionable.
When it comes to creating new processes, it’s easy to overcomplicate things. One essential tip to make knowledge transferring easier is to keep things simple. You can do this by breaking up the different processes and knowledge types into different compartments. This makes the entire process easier to manage and delegate.
Taking care of a multi-step process fully manually can be a painstaking and lengthy endeavor. As such, try to automate as much of the knowledge transfer process as you can. Whether this involves making use of integrative software tools or learning management systems, automating knowledge transfers can make it learning more enjoyable.