Companies spend a lot of money and time on employee training, often with very mixed results.
One of the challenges that many companies face is that the employees who know the most about a given topic or process are busy engaged in productive work and don’t have time to spend training other staff. And the staff specifically tasked with developing and providing training to employees are often not experts in what they are tasked with training. It’s a catch-22.
Organizations that can efficiently and easily transfer knowledge from experienced and knowledgeable staff to others throughout the organization can greatly benefit the growth and development of their teams. Here, we discuss some strategies for sharing the knowledge wealth.
Set the Expectation
As noted above, the staff with the greatest level of knowledge and experience are typically engaged in critical work of their own and have little time to train others. Moreover, some senior staff may feel threatened by sharing what makes them so valued.
It’s important for organizations to clearly set the expectation that staff spend time documenting what they know, act as mentors, etc. These expectations can be made even more effective by backing them up with incentives ranging from simple recognition to incorporating knowledge sharing into compensation structure.
Make It Easy
Senior staff who contribute material to training documentation shouldn’t be expected to also spend time on the fine details of making the content ready for distribution. Less critical staff can be tasked with formatting and cleaning up documentation.
Similarly, senior staff shouldn’t have to figure out how and where to provide information. The process and destination for such input should be clear and readily accessible.
Give Them Time to Share
Companies encouraging training support from senior staff should recognize they are busy and have competing priorities. Encourage senior staff to dedicate a set amount of time to helping develop others. In addition to making it more feasible for them to contribute, it also demonstrates a corporate commitment to that goal.
Whether they don’t have time or simply don’t want the added responsibility, not all employees are effective trainers. But companies need to recognize that key staff frequently leave, and losing their knowledge can be a big obstacle to succession planning at all levels.
Anything that can contribute to knowledge sharing within an organization deserves a careful look.