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Articles  
Knowledge Turnover & KCP - There on
 
 
  SECTIONS
Introduction
Operation knowledge continuity
Implementing a Continuity Management Programme
Advantage - Knowledge

Employee turnover costs a fortune as it includes all the investments made on the employees right from recruitment till departure.

Does that include knowledge lost when they leave?

One might ask what knowledge has to do with turnovers. organizations have formulated strategies to retain talent and reduce turnover cost without success. It is critical to retain talent as attrition sees the departure of the employee's knowledge with him. Called knowledge turnover, the fact of it is that the loss to the organization is truly immeasurable!

Knowledge Continuity Management (KCM) is therefore the most viable option to check the draining of the knowledge base with the departure of each resource. This facilitates the transfer of vital operational knowledge of an exiting employee to his replacement. However, continuity management programmes should be designed with the correct mix of technical and managerial support. It's not unlike baking a cake. Unless the ingredients are in the right proportion the cake doesn't bake well.

Before setting up a Knowledge Continuity Programme (KCP) organizations should list out the problems arising from knowledge loss. Some of the common problems are:

Vacuum stage when only a handful of employees know the organizational work process. Their departure would leave the organization with no knowledge about the process and a relearning has to begin all over again
Often the exiting employee documents the knowledge but no one else in the organization knows where the document is. This situation is termed as alarm stage
When the stage where the new hire has only a vague idea of the job he has to do but not enough to do it as efficiently as he might it is the confusion stage. He begins to desperately seek information, wasting the time that could have been used productively
Occasionally, loads of information is actually passed on to the new hire but he can make little sense of it because the information is documented poorly. This stage is called the knowledge deficit stage
The knowledge stuffing stage is when knowledge is dumped on the new employee but there is no information available about the actual work
organizations often encounter a rigidity crisis stage because they are averse to change. They shun innovation and continue to follow traditional methods


Operation knowledge continuity


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The knowledge continuity programme, fanciful though it may sound, should be implemented very carefully. It must be remembered that communication is the essence of the programme. According to Hamilton Beazley, co author of Continuity Management: Preserving Corporate Knowledge and Productivity When Employees Leave, knowledge shared is futile if it is not communicated clearly and put to proper use. A Continuity Management programme aims to pass on the full operational knowledge of the exiting employees to the new employee.


Implementing a Continuity Management Programme

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Step 1: The current trend, Objectives and scope

The organization must be evaluated first. A full review of existing knowledge continuity in the organization is made. Such a review is possible only when relevant data is present. The data includes annual turnover, knowledge continuity between the predecessor and the successor, causes for knowledge loss etc. If knowledge continuity doesn't exist then it is the right time to have one.

The programme's aim and scope should be clearly stated to prevent confusion. organizations may not be very confident about implementing the programme across the organization. They might prefer to start the programme in one department and review the outcome before considering the next course of action. So while deciding the scope of the programme they must determine the number of job classifications, the depth of knowledge to be explored, technology used, organizational culture and the existing reward system and whether it matches the knowledge continuity programme.

Step 2: Appointing a coordinator & Plan of action

Once the programme is designed, a trained person should be appointed to coordinate activities. He could either be a Chief Knowledge Officer, a Chief Information Officer or the Human Resource Director or an individual specially appointed for the programme.

The knowledge continuity programme is a change programme. Therefore, its implementation has to be planned well. John Kotter in his book Leading Change suggests an eight -step model to initiate change. The same can be applied to the knowledge continuity programme. The model includes assessing the need for the programme, building a team to initiate the programme, developing vision, communicating it, revamping the reward system, short term goals for the rewards and finally aligning the programme with the culture of the organization.

Step 3: Execution

At the outset the key job positions under the programme are identified and the knowledge and skills required to perform the job mapped. This is known as a knowledge profile. The mapping is done on the basis of the answers to a questionnaire designed by the organization. Employees have to update their responses periodically during their tenure in the organization. Each profile is further divided into four separate sections with the

Current data about the market share, sales etc
Operational knowledge including pending work and key customers
Basic operational data that comprises the job functions
Background operational data that includes the present employees network in terms of knowledge

Step 4: Mentoring & Knowledge transfer

The organizations should encourage employees to form mentoring relationships among themselves to make the programme effective. The existing employees can mentor and guide new employees in understanding their job functions. This helps the new hire in learning the job quickly. A perfect example of success is of Deloitte Consulting's senior partner programme. Under the programme each senior employee nearing retirement was assigned a new employee. The senior employees passed on their critical operational knowledge to the new ones and helped them to adjust to the new position.

The techniques of collating operational knowledge from the present employees and transferring it to their successors should be determined. Using Knowledge Profiles will facilitate knowledge transfer. A reward system can be instituted to ensure that knowledge is transferred.


Advantage - Knowledge


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An effective knowledge continuity programme implemented gives the organization an edge over others. It helps new employees understand their new job functions, learn the work process quickly, reduce errors, improve their learning process and enhance productivity.
Even though employees leave organizations the knowledge they have acquired over the years on the job remains intact with them. HR should ensure that the new employees gain access to it.

The bottom line: Let attrition not be the cause of knowledge turnover.

 
 

 

 
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