Organizations of all sizes already assess and manage many types of business risk day to day, including legal, operational, financial, and insurance. As a business leader you would never dream of just going with your gut when faced with the legal risks of a big contract, and no board of directors would settle for an executive declaring, “I have a feeling our workers will be safe enough,” or “our production capacity seemed fine so I fired the analysts.” And even though in-house risk managers and vendors (lawyers, insurance brokers) may shoulder the heavy lifting, line executives are expected to have at least a basic understanding of how to address common types of business risk and where to go for help. That is, except for one of the biggest risk areas - no one methodically manages technical talent risk.
When assessing and managing talent risk and preparing for knowledge transfer, we work to uncover data like who’s the expert, how many employees do we have that are capable of that work, how many employees do we have that are learning that work, and whether it’s at risk. If it’s at risk, is it a high priority? The Knowledge Silo Matrix (KSM), Step One in our 3-Step Process, gives leaders a place to represent the data so that they can show it to their peers, to their employees, to their bosses.
We at the Steve Trautman Company have long asserted that while traditional job shadowing has been a common practice for transferring skills from the knowledgeable employee to a new hire, there are inherent flaws with relying on this method to replicate your top talent:
Our last blog post focused on reducing executive talent risk by modeling how to methodically transfer the “soft skills” necessary for a new job role. When coming to a new organization, executives also face similar challenges with getting their technical and operational skill sets up to speed. Take for example business planning and budget setting. I was with a client yesterday who is starting his next fiscal year budget six months in advance. Basically, they had barely finished getting the last one done, and they’re already moving on to the next. Much like the election cycle,
A structured knowledge transfer program intentionally moves critical knowledge and skills from employee to employee on the job. One marker of a good knowledge transfer program is versatility—the process should work in all types of business environments. For example, my knowledge transfer consulting firm was recently asked this question by a potential client:
How might your 3-step knowledge transfer process work with a firm that runs on billable hours to their clients? Making time to train people and/or transfer knowledge is a challenge.
Last week’s post to this blog introduced the topic of managing talent risk and busted three common misconceptions around that. Let’s take on another.
As business leaders, you manage many risks systematically and with great rigor. You manage risk of litigation with contracts and insurance, risk to operations with multiple suppliers and maintenance protocols, risk to health and safety by having protective gear and environmental sensors, risk to finance by maintaining cash reserves and lines of credit, etc. Yet with all that you do in risk management elsewhere in your business, you likely do not have a rigorous way to assess and methodically mitigate talent risk in your workforce.