!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Retaining Retirees' Knowledge

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Retaining Retirees' Knowledge

Among the issues raised by the coming large-scale retirement of baby boomers, is how their companies can retain the retirees' specialized knowledge. The July 24 issue of Fortune offered some practical guidance in a brief article by Anne Fisher.

Fisher explains how the Tennessee Valley Authority is handling transfer of knowledge to younger employees.
Starting in 1999, the TVA broke down the daunting task of retaining knowledge into manageable parts, by asking line managers three questions: What knowledge is likely to be lost when particular employees leave? ("What?") What will be the business consequences of losing that knowledge? ("So what?") And what can be done to prevent or minimize the damage? ("Now what?")
TVA asks its older employees when each is thinking of retiring. (Answers are not binding.) Then TVA scores the employees according to how soon they expect to leave, and how critical their knowledge is to company operations. The higher an employee's score, the higher the priority of transferring that employee's know-how to younger colleagues.

For the high-priority cases, the actual transfer is handled expeditiously in whatever fashion best fits the type of knowledge in question. For instance, nuggets of information that can be readily documented are written down and made easily accessible. For tacit knowledge, job shadowing is used.