human development, social justice and sustainable social systems
Why is this important?
Organisations store knowledge in formal records, but also in people, organisational culture, processes and relationships. While it is relatively easy to retrieve the ‘artefacts’ of organisational knowledge (i.e.: documentation) left behind when someone leaves the organisation, accessing the subtle “know-how” knowledge of individuals as a result of their role presents a significantly greater challenge. One can never expect to retain 100% of the tacit knowledge and the portion of institutional memory that rests within an outgoing member of staff – but it is important to identify, encourage, and in some cases, require engagement in both formal and informal practices that support knowledge transfer and retention.
Desired Outcomes (linked to the Assessment Tool)
The organisation has tools and procedures which support the transfer of knowledge between staff.
All staff are required to engage in (in)formal knowledge sharing activities prior to changing roles or leaving.
Knowledge transfer process aims to capture the knowledge of the person who is leaving or changing roles (including all the relevant contacts).
Findings are documented, centrally stored and key lessons are shared with all relevant stakeholders and made accessible wherever possible.
The organisation reviews the lessons learnt from the outgoing staff to apply them to inform policies and future activities.
Examples of actions/practices you can implement within your organisation to retain, learn from and act on institutional memory
Meet with your colleagues from Human Resources to review current tools, expected processes and current practice around staff departures and job rotations (e.g. standard templates for exit interviews or presentations [below]).
Encourage departing colleagues to schedule an “exit presentation” to staff from across the organisation which outlines their experience and recommendations for how the organisation can improve its policies, practices and culture.
Encourage outgoing staff to invite their own chosen individuals (6-8) to a knowledge transfer meeting where they supply what they consider useful feedback and “pass the baton.” This is not the same as an HR exit interview.
Guidance, Tools and Case Studies from Member Organisations