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January 30, 2014

Do You Have a Knowledge Backup Plan?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs,Succession Planning — Tags: 6:00 am

Highly effective leaders realize that knowledge is key to their company’s success.  They know that teams working and collaborating together can accomplish really great things.  Succession plans are generally designed to make sure there is a pipeline of talent so that nothing falls through the cracks and that transitions from one leader to the next are seamless.  Cross-training, mentoring, and the sharing of knowledge are all used to protect a company’s interests.   But, are people the best knowledge backup plan?

To illustrate this, perhaps a new project is being assigned to three employees, A, B, and C.  Perhaps, the seasoned leader of the team project is Employee A, who accepts another position within the organization.  The knowledge of the team leader is not really gone, but has shifted to another department, that doesn’t benefit the progress that has already been made on the team project, nor does it benefit Employees B and C, who’ve been left behind and now have to step up to the plate.  Well, Employees B and C realize the dynamics of their team have changed greatly without Employee A – it’s just not fun anymore.  So, Employee B decides he’s taking another job and give his notice, leaving Employee C, who has no experience on how to further the team project without the rest of the team.  Becoming disenchanted with the situation for which Employee C has found herself, she leaves and joins Employee B at his new gig.

All that knowledge and all that progress and all that time is now for naught.  What is an employer to do to protect their future success?

  • Encourage employees to share knowledge with each other.  Creating operating processes and procedures that will benefit someone who hasn’t been in the organization long, and that will help knowledge to live on.
  • Plan for turnover.  We know employees simply don’t stay put.  Make it a priority to communicate regularly with employees and have a solid plan for when they leave.
  • Assume that when any part of a team leaves, the others will be considered flight risks.
  • Reassure others on the team that you are immediately getting a replacement for the vacant position to reduce panic and restore order.

Do you have a knowledge backup plan?

Source:  Corlett, Bob.  “The Hidden Danger in Employee Turnover (and how to protect yourself).”  The Business Journals.  See article here.



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