Mentoring for Knowledge Transfer

September 30, 2014

Mentoring for Knowledge Transfer: Bridging Today and Tomorrow

The preservation of institutional knowledge has always been an essential part of any organization’s agenda. You spend too much time developing knowledge and skills to simply let it go every time someone relocates or retires.

Today’s workplace is going through some drastic changes that make the subject of knowledge transfer more important than ever. As a result, many companies are turning to mentoring for knowledge transfer.

Take a look at the two key problems that the modern workplace is facing, and learn about how you can prepare your organization for successful transitions during this shift in the dynamics of the workplace.

Reason #1: Mass Exit of Baby Boomers

We always knew that the retirement of the Baby Boom generation was going to cause a drastic change in workplace dynamics as well as pose a threat to our already unsteady economy. Those worries and predictions are no longer looming in the horizon; they are here.

At the start of the new year in 2011, the oldest members of the Baby Boom generation celebrated their 65th birthday. And on that day, today, and every day for the next 19 years, 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach age 65.

This immense increase in retirement-eligible employees causes organizations to take a step back and look at what they can do to maintain their knowledge base. This problem is not going to just vanish in the next few years. If your organization has not addressed the need for knowledge development strategies yet, now is the time to do so.

Gallup conducted their annual Economy and Personal Finance survey this past April, showing that the average age at which U.S. retirees report retiring is 62.

However, 39% of Baby Boomers that are still working say they don’t expect to retire until they are over the average “expected” age of 66:

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Even with this desire to stay in the workforce longer, our population is still aging drastically at a rate that will push each wave of boomers past that “expected” age of 66 each year.

The following graph represents the steady increase of 65 Americans as a share of our population over the course of the next several decades: (Source)

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Every month more than a quarter-million Americans turn 65. What are you going to do to prepare your company for such transitions?

Reason #2: New Job Market Mentality

Not only have we reached the “age of retirement” in the job market, but we have also begun to see a transition in the mentality of the job market itself.

According to recent statistics, the median number of years a U.S. worker has been in his or her current job is just 4.4 years, down sharply since the 1970s.

The expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is almost half of that. Ninety-one percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers.

Employees are increasingly staying with organizations for shorter periods of time, and taking career development opportunities when and where they become available. Oftentimes this happens to be with an organization they don’t work for – and since the start of the global recovery from the 2008 recession, people have been able to afford to move around and pursue those opportunities.

How Mentoring for Knowledge Transfer Can Help You

Job transition, due to retirement or new job market mentality, is something your organization should be comfortable dealing with. If you’re not, now is the time to become familiar with the new face of the workplace.

A successful mentoring program provides your organization with an efficient method by which you can capture and retain the knowledge of experienced employees that you will eventually lose to retirement.

So how are you going to make sure all that critical information isn’t lost?

Mentoring allows for knowledge transfer between both the mentor and the mentee – but is especially geared to transfer from mentor to mentee. Mentoring for knowledge transfer has multiple benefits, including:

  • Engagement of employees by letting mentors know they are valued by the organization and providing mentees with the knowledge to progress and succeed
  • Organizational preparation to handle the “passing of the baton” between the retiring generation and the generations currently a part of the workforce and just now entering the workforce.
  • Creation a culture of continuous career development and knowledge transfer in your organization
  • Retention of employees who will be looking for career development opportunities – and who aren’t afraid to leave your organization to do so.
  • Amelioration of multigenerational conflict that may exist within your organization.

Just like Baby Boomer retirement isn’t a one-and-done event, neither should your knowledge-transfer efforts be. This will be an event that occurs over the next several years. And if knowledge transfer is a gradual and seamless effort, tomorrow’s leaders, managers, and employees will be gradually and seamlessly ready to fill those vacancies left by retirees – and they’ll not only be able to do it with the benefit of having that institutional knowledge and understanding, they’ll be able to build off of that knowledge and understanding in new and different ways.

It only takes a little bit of preparation – so make sure that you’re not left holding the baton (or the bag) at the end of it.

Insala can help you with mentoring for knowledge transfer. For more information, take a look at our mentoring solutions.


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