This week the agriculture industry publication, CropLife, published an article on aging workers and knowledge transfer. The authors suggested knowledge transfer as the solution to passing critical knowledge and information held by aging workers on to an organization’s future leaders. The advice was sound, and most important, the article drew attention to the risks posed by a business’s trapped knowledge and the need for a clear and simple knowledge transfer process. The article’s appearance also helps illustrate the diversity of industries that are facing this challenge of retaining the critical knowledge of retiring Boomers.
But here’s something that this article and business leaders often overlook: when it comes to unique critical knowledge siloed in one person, aging workers are not the only risk.
Knowledge Risks Are Not Age-Dependent
As my comment posted to the article states, the real problem is that most organizations have employees who have critical, high-priority knowledge and skills that no one else in the company has. Knowledge transfer is the solution, but readers of this blog—and any leader tasked with managing workforce talent—need to start diversifying who they consider their “mentors” and “apprentices” in a workforce in order to reduce their organization's reliance on any one person—regardless of their age. Unique knowledge is a business risk that should be mitigated for all highly critical skills. Remember, retirement is not the only reason employees leave….
To learn more about our firm's simple knowledge transfer solution, see my recent post on knowledge transfer in action.