The Importance of Knowledge Flow to Ensure Valuable Skills aren’t Lost

There is a crisis happening all over North America and that is the retiring baby boomer population. What is the crisis? They are taking valuable theory and lessons learned with them and people do not seem to care. Yes, technology is changing faster than ever and it is something they are not used to. But what these senior staffs are built with is knowledge and resilience to difficult times. They have adapted more than we will probably give them credit for. So now what?

Knowledge Flow

We can call this a variety of things, but knowledge flow is the best way we have explained it to our consultants. There needs to be a more consistent approach to how organizations get information or knowledge out of their senior staff. The staff that have been in the industry for numerous years have knowledge in their role and they have probably never shared or written down for future generations to use. This is a major problem. With most people now wanting to work from home, because they can prove that they can; how do you learn from the past, build a system or process and move forward. If organizations continue to let people retire and move on with no documented information, they are at an extreme disadvantage.

The Importance of Knowledge Flow to Ensure Valuable Skills

Long-term Employees Are Not Valuable

This is an expression we have heard time and time again. A lot of organizations see them as positions that are just there. Too often we have witnessed people retire and then it takes 2-3 people to replace the one position that just left. Sure, it can be an opportunity to train people, but why can’t we replace one person with one person. Probably because the person that just left or retired had so much in their head that they just knew how to perform the job task so well, they didn’t need help. And the organization just lost all that information overnight. Literally!

How to Handle Retirement

As an organization, you need to start making a plan on how to fill a vacant position that is coming up very soon. Technically, companies should be preparing for this type of situation all the time with cross-training, but one step at a time! Right now, an organization needs to determine when is this person going to retire and who will potentially take that place. Once this has occurred, you need to start part-time cross-training, even if it is for one hour a day. Add up one hour over 3-5 years, and you have a fully trained person to take over for the retired person. Second, you need to develop a software system that you can store knowledge from the retiring person. The most important aspect here is to make sure you understand the information that this person is giving and that others can understand it as well. How this person differentiates between right and wrong on a task can make a big difference for the next person. Make sure it applies to the task and that others understand it.

Hopefully this helps in a small way in preparing for people that are thinking about retiring in the future. If you need any help with this, feel free to reach out to us at Future To Now Consulting to get the conversation started.