Talent transitions don't have to be a bump in the road for organizations. A knowledge transfer process can help deliver a smooth handoff and keep projects on track. We asked practitioners: How do you ensure effective knowledge transfer?
HAVE A CONVERSATION
“When we transfer knowledge to co-workers, we do so with the intent of them understanding and utilizing that knowledge. It's a two-way communication. And what makes a two-way communication effective? Feedback. This is the most important part of knowledge transfer, because it's how we ensure whether the participants really understand what we want them to know.”
—Lieh Liao, PMI-ACP, PMP, special assistant to the chairman, CompuPack Technology Co. Ltd., Taipei, Taiwan
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GET IT IN WRITING
“In a previous position, I developed a talent matrix that showcased the expertise of more than 100 team members. Each row was dedicated to a team member, and the columns listed areas of expertise, such as design, construction and project management. To create the matrix, I reviewed staff CVs to identify their knowledge areas, verified the information and then published the matrix for team use.
This has resulted in a wealth of knowledge kept in a structured document accessible to the entire company. It allows teams to identify resources of specialized expertise not necessarily available within each team separately and has facilitated knowledge transfer between individuals and projects.”
—Sherif Hashem, PhD, PMP, program director, ASTAD Project Management, Doha, Qatar
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
“You must choose the knowledge transfer methods that work best for the demographics in your organization. Understand the generational learning preferences of all involved. In my experience, younger generations prefer web seminars, online videos and interactive materials, while older generations prefer formal training classes with on-site instructors. Tailoring your methods for different generations is about changing how your workforce learns and proactively addressing the influences and differences that can negatively impact training. This results in an environment that fosters and enhances knowledge transfer.”
—Anil Gosine, global program manager, MG Strategy+, Detroit, Michigan, USA
“A project I worked on for an aerospace company involved transferring knowledge from an external Russian company to an internal team that was taking over the project. The process took nearly a year, and success was largely due to building a common language and common understanding throughout the project.
The time zone and language barriers were our top challenges. We overcame them by having key team members from Russia come onshore for a month at a time to work directly with the internal team. While there, the teams participated in demos and observed each other working.”
—Annette Suh, project manager, Nike, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
KEEP THEM FOCUSED
“During a group training session, it's crucial to pay attention to audience engagement. This helps minimize the risk of misunderstanding and maximize what the audience takes away from the session. Leverage your people skills and watch for implicit signals of engagement, such as the body language of the audience. Eye contact with the presenter, note taking and asking questions are all positive signs you have an engaged audience. Participants paying more attention to their smartphones and holding side conversations are signs that you're losing their interest. If this happens, I like to insert a question related to the topic just presented and ask how this topic impacts the participants’ daily work.
Also, it's important to give the participants different options for expressing feedback after the session. Some people will freely share their concerns during or immediately after the session. Others will only share in confidential writing. Others still will only share what they really think during a one-on-one conversation.”
—Leyton Collins, PMP, program manager, Agfa HealthCare, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
CREATE A TRANSITION PLAN
“It is usually the responsibility of the project or program manager to plan and execute the knowledge transfer to their successor. But there are some basic steps you can take to facilitate a smooth transition. First, set a time frame and deadlines for the training period. Take a formal inventory of your tasks managed and the accompanying documentation. Then have your manager and successor sign off on this transition plan.
During the training period, set aside time for periodic reviews of the process. If your successor is a new hire, it can be helpful to assign a team member to be their “buddy” during the transition. This person will serve as a main point of contact for questions on basic administrative tasks and other routine queries. They can also serve as a role model and counselor for the new hire. This is a quick way to make them feel like part of the team and help onboarding go smoothly.”
—Marc Burlereaux, business transformation agent, HSBC Private Bank, Geneva, Switzerland
Talent transitions happen at all organizations, but each company handles them differently. PMI's 2015 Pulse of the Profession®: Capturing the Value of Project Management Through Knowledge Transfer survey shows that organizations with a formal knowledge transfer process are more likely to see their projects succeed.
unsuccessful projects is adversely affected due to untimely or inaccurate knowledge transfer.
Source: PMI's 2015 Pulse of the Profession®: Capturing the Value of Project Management Through Knowledge Transfer