Knowledge transfer critical

by 26 Nov 2008

MOST COMPANIES do not have a plan to manage and transfer knowledge and even fewer factor cross-generational challenges into business strategy, a recent US report has found.

“As the Baby Boom generation of corporate leaders and experts approaches retirement, businesses in the US, Canada, and many European nations face the loss of experience and knowledge on an unprecedented scale,” said Diane Piktialis, mature workforce program leader at The Conference Board, which conducted the report.

“Younger workers can’t be counted on to fill the void, as they lack the experience that builds deep expertise. They also tend to change jobs frequently,taking their technological savvy and any knowledge they’ve gained with them.”

The result can be a significant drain of business wisdom that decreases innovation, lowers growth capacity, and reduces efficiency in the organisation.

In the past, the expectation of passing along knowledge and leaving a legacy fit well within the cultural values of long-tenured employees who spent their careers with the same company. But in today’s workplace, where four generations work side by side, knowledge is not always filtered well throughout an organisation, said Piktialis.

The report describes how best to capture and transfer knowledge across generations by emphasising:

• Choosing the best knowledge transfer methods for specific needs

• Understanding generational learning preferences of both the sources and the receivers of knowledge

• Adapting knowledge transfer methods to accommodate multigenerational preferences and learning styles

• Making the business case for cross-generational knowledge transfer

• Best practices – what some companies are doing right today.

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