Supervisory Leadership

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How does a company capture knowledge from workers who are planning to retire?

This is already a big issue and it's only going to get bigger. Alas, many people writing about it only have a single kind of solution. It's their hammer, so they describe the potential brain drain just like their kind of nail. I recommend an integrated approach with three key components.

There should be HR components. These include phased retirement, bringing workers back as consultants, modified work rules to allow workers to continue working past their scheduled retirement and more. They also include stepping up recruiting efforts and paying attention to succession planning for managerial, technical and craft jobs. HR also is involved in union negotiations and reworking the pension rules.

There should be technological components. Most of the KM programs we've seen so far have not done this. I think the future lies with a mix of simpler, more human-friendly solutions combined with social networking and other Web 2.0 tools.

There should also be business process solutions. Some business processes can be changed to make it unnecessary to retain certain bits of knowledge. Equipment can be standardized to reduce the number of discreet skills needed.

All of these are wrapped up in and viewed through a company's culture.


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