Those of us who have influential mentors in our lives understand the importance of wisdom passed down from those who share their personal or professional experiences. The importance of mentorship is particularly relevant to today’s government employees. Especially as the Baby Boomer generation prepares to retire, agencies must help capture their decades of institutional and subject matter expertise while passing it on to the upcoming generation of government leaders.
This practice of knowledge transfer, where a group’s knowledge is captured and shared with future users, sounds easy enough to do. But with the increasing use of technology by younger employees and other divides in today’s multi-generational workforce, agencies have a unique opportunity to find creative ways to foster a culture of knowledge sharing.
Here are three strategies that government agencies of all sizes can use to help facilitate knowledge transfer:
1.) Provide opportunities for observation: Many of today’s new government employees are used to an interactive, hand-on learning experience. By providing opportunities for intra-agency internships and shadowing, they can learn by observing and working with more experienced employees. These opportunities can also show new employees the larger mission of their agency, which is a proven method to retain future leaders.
2.) Participate in social mentorship: Social mentorship is the practice of leveraging social networks and social media to forge connections among individuals, and according to GovLoop, it is already resulting in professional growth within government agencies. From a knowledge transfer perspective, there is huge potential for substantive conversations including those between new employees and senior officials, or between individuals who are separated geographically.
3.) Integrate narrative transfers with training: Many of us learn best when we know that what is being taught can have a direct impact on our actual experiences. One strategy to show the real-life importance of institutional knowledge at your agency is to record short videos of tenured employees as they discuss their workplace experiences and advice. Then, these recordings can easily be shared on your e-Learning system, via email, or even online in a format similar to the FedScoop FedMentors series.
Has your agency taken steps to facilitate knowledge transfer between generations of employees? If so, what best practices would you add to this list?