June 02, 2012

Knowledge Retention

Retaining knowledge is one of the main organisational challenges nowadays. On the one hand, talent acquisition and the “war for talent” due to the tough competition between companies to attract and retain talented and knowledgeable employees. On the other hand, the fact that a lot of the working population "baby boomers" is coming up to retirement age, and therefore they need replacements and transferring the knowledge and experience of those retirees to the new employees and the rest of the organisation. Respectively, this might result in disclosing information to other competitors in the same industry, or this loss of knowledge might take several years to replace and recover.

I have experienced that during my work in the cement industry, where we had to identify areas of knowledge and expertise where the company had to retain, and recorded that in manuals and policies, and standardise it for the whole company. What skills and expertise (functional/departmental) are crucial for the success of the company? Are they Related to systems or processes within the company? Or other sort of skills and areas of knowledge? This has to be identified and discussed with all the management staff at all levels in the company.

The HR department plays a big role in the setting up and the implementation of those retention strategies. The cycle of human resource management (R-D-R Cycle) starts with recruiting, and moves on to learning and development and accelerating the learning curve of any new staff, as well as identifying new learning and development interventions, and ends up with retaining those staff and reduce the loss of knowledge to the minimum. This cycle gives an idea of how knowledge is created, distributed, and retained within any organisation.

HRM Cycle

Therefore in order to sustain, the company needs to find ways and identify strategies in creating, distributing, retaining, and transferring that knowledge to other staff.

- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Sophie Bellone

    If I had to retain one idea of your entry, I would go for the importance of “the recruitment process” :)

    Now that we’ve been working as “team” an uncountable number of times, I tend to think that a firm creates and gets knowledge thanks to the people it hires. By recruiting the “right” people for the organization, an organization can gain so much. First it increases the chances of team members to get along pretty well. Thus, they will provide good and efficient work. Secondly, ambitious and motivated people will probably be interested in the business and try to make it always better than it currently is. Third, it facilitates interactions and provides a great atmosphere to work in.

    Of course, there are many other elements to take into account but I believe recruiting people is far more important.

    I know it sounds paradoxical because diversity in teams is also essential. But by “right people” I mean people who are motivated, ambitious, interested in the business itself, ready to commit and work more than expected, etc. More than ever I think the recruitment process is a critical element for any company and it should be done more carefully.

    People and knowledge remain one of the most important resources of a company, but without people, hard to develop knowledge or KM

    07 Jun 2012, 16:09

  2. Hi Sophie,

    Thanks for your comment. You’re absolutely right, the recruitment process is the first step which is so important; If you don’t get it right in the first place, then the whole cycle will be useless.
    But, if the company hired the “right people”, and didn’t develop its people, and i mean by that “learning and development” for its employees – to generate and accummulate that knowlege – or after then, they didn’t retain them to keep them motivated and engaged, overtime, as a result they will leave, and there will be loss of knowledge, and loss of time and money too. And therefore, they have to restart this cyle again from hiring new employees, and that means consuming more time and more money.
    At the same time, if the company hired the right people and developed them, but didn’t retain them, the results will be disastrous. And i know some companies who are successful at attracting the right people, but those talented people left after a while, because they were neither developed nor retained. Some companies might have the right systems or processes for recruiting people, but they don’t have the right mechanisms for developing and retaining them, and this is what differentiate sustainable organisations from others.

    So the R-D-R cycle is so important, and we can’t view one of them in isolation from the other two, the three elements are interrelated to each other, and the success of the company depends on the successful implementation of those three processes all at once.

    07 Jun 2012, 16:44

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