I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first child and could not be more excited to be a father. If I am being honest, I am also slightly nervous. I am nervous because my father set the bar so high, and I know it will be challenging to follow in his footsteps.
I look up to my father more than any other man on the planet. He has shaped and molded me into the man that I am today, and I would be hard pressed to find a better role model. That said, I feel a great weight of responsibility to carry on his legacy.
I was thinking about it the other day as I was trying to figure out how I am going to distill down everything that I have learned from my father, as well as all of the important life lessons that I have learned over the 34 years that I have been on this planet. More importantly, how am I going to relay this information to my child, or children in a way that is meaningful, and that makes a lasting impression?
Upon reflection it occurred to me that this dilemma is becoming more and more common in the professional world as well. How do you come up with an effective strategy to capture/transfer several decades worth of “institutional knowledge” before your key employees announce their retirement?
According to a recent Gallup Poll, the average age at which U.S. retirees say they actually retired is now at 61, up from 57 in the early 1990s. That means that when your employees start to retire, they may have been with your company 30-40+ years. Let’s face it, these individuals have probably forgotten more than we know!
The Silver Lining: Most people that have been with the same organization for several decades want to feel like it was worth it. They take a great deal of pride in their work and want their legacy to carry on. That said, they will most likely be honored and thrilled if they are asked to become an integral part of your organization’s “Knowledge Retention” process.
Don’t short change the process, though. Remember, it took them half of their lifetime to accumulate this knowledge. We can’t expect to effectively distill that knowledge over the course of a day, a week, or even a month.
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