People often ask what the best method of knowledge transfer is. It depends on the situation. In some cases, a short conversation is the most effective.
One problem is that the person with the knowledge doesn’t realise that they possess it and the value it is to other people.
What has been proven to be ineffective are massive notes made by the person leaving. This is generally true for lessons learned too. It may be therapeutic for the author to write but the notes are rarely read and acted upon. Better to look for an alternative means of passing on knowledge.
A guided conversation
If you are going to interview the person with the knowledge, you might want to use the following questions to guide the conversation. This list of questions originates from the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters.
Allow 90 minutes for a conversation. You may wish to record the conversation on your smartphone – with the interviewee’s permission, of course.
Before you start
Create a short biography of the person – name and a bit about their background. This provides some context, so that people understand instantly who this person is and why they are worth listening to.
And the questions ……
- What do you consider to be the most valuable and/or unique knowledge that you hold in your current role?
- What knowledge do you hold that you consider hard to replace?
- What knowledge do you hold that no one else in your organisation has?
- How did you learn the things you know? (training courses, education , previous job)
- What is the main thing your colleagues are going to notice when you are gone?
- Do you have a current job description? Does it contain all the relevant aspects of your job or is there something missing?Can you provide a copy of the job description?
Key Operational information
- If you break down the activities of your daily job which ones requires specific skills that other, less experienced individuals might not have?
- What have been the most useful tools, documents, websites, resources, etc that you have used in your role?
- What requests do you get most regularly and how do you handle them?
- What are the things that are most likely to go wrong and how do you usually handle them?
- What shortcuts/workarounds might be useful for others to know about?
- Are there any immediate issues specific to your role that in your view need to be urgently resolved?
- Are there any dormant issues to your role that in your view need to be resolved in the longer term?
- Are there other roles you perform in the organisation (officially/unofficially)?
People and People Skills
- Who are the people you operationally interact with most frequently and for whom you are the main or only point of contact in your team?
- Who are the key contacts for things like expert advice, decisions, getting something processed? Are these known about and used by other members of staff on your team?
- Are there any people skills you want to mention that help you to get your job done and resolve problems? This could involve the ability to bring together people from various teams to resolve a problem, to contribute to decision-making in meetings, to deal with complaints, etc
- What has helped you deal effectively with:
- Who needs to know what you know (apart from your successor)?
- Tell us about your successes and what you have learned?
- What mistakes do you think have been made in the past that you think could be avoided in the future?
- What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to the rest of the team moving forward?
- What advice would you give your successor?
- If you could design an ideal induction for your job what would you include?
- What do you wish you had known when you started the job?
- Are there any unexploited ideas or potential improvements/innovations that you want to mention?