The world of education has many action verbs – teach, train, educate, tutor, instruct, mentor, and the list goes on. I can teach an eight-hour class, but at the end of the day, if a transfer of knowledge has not occurred, then I might as well be talking to an empty room. The student must be able to recall the answer, duplicate the process, duplicate the results, and execute the skills when in their own environment and apply the knowledge in different situations. Which leaves us with the question, “What elements must be present for a transfer of knowledge?” I’m glad you asked.
1. Formalize the process. Create documents that specify how a process works. You can use flow charts, checklists, or step-by-step instructions, to name a few. These reference materials or guides give clear instruction when the time comes instead of expecting someone to just figure it out on their own through trial and error. This is a major time-saver!
2. Duplicate. A process must be duplicatable or you end up with the original problem. Only the expert knows how to do it, and heaven forbid that they ever take a sick day or go on vacation!
3. Practice. Particularly with complex processes, a person must practice the new skill in the real world in order to become proficient. With enough practice, you might just have another expert on your team.
4. Train. Let me repeat myself. Train. Train. Train. Having resources and opportunities for formal training help to ensure that you have duplication of skills within the organization. Provide opportunities for people to put their knowledge into practice. This helps with knowledge transfer and helps build their confidence.
5. Use systems. Don’t recreate the wheel. Document what others have discovered so those who follow can hit the ground running instead of spinning their wheels trying to figure out the very thing that has already been discovered.
6. Provide opportunities to share knowledge. Informal get-togethers offer people opportunities to exchange information and practice skills.
The result is a team of people who are confident and engaged in their work and have an in-depth understanding of the system and processes. You also get to skip the “freak out” stage when the expert comes down with the flu.
This transfer of knowledge is at the very core of Softek. Not only do we practice transfer of knowledge within our company, we practice it with our clients. For new clients, we have an on-boarding process to get them started. Each user has access to Softek University so they can continue to learn at times that are convenient for them. Softek University includes Panther courses, reference materials, sample reports, case studies, videos, and access to our monthly webinars. We offer quizzes that test your knowledge along the way and help you prepare for the Softek Panther Certification Exam.
There is one last thing I want to mention. It gets its own paragraph because it is important and different from what most people are used to. Are you ready for it? Because transfer of knowledge is at the core of what we do, all of our training is free for our clients. It’s not just the organization or team training that is free, individual training is free. When was the last time you called a software company and requested training, party of one? What do you imagine their response would be? Our response is, “give me a few dates and times that work for you and we’ll get it on the calendar.” This is not the usual response one would expect to hear, but Softek is not a usual software company.