Experienced leaders are an invaluable asset to your company. Great leaders build expertise through experience and collect company-specific knowledge. Unfortunately, they may then move to another organization or retire, and their institutional knowledge often doesn’t find its way into a standardized training curriculum. But, you don’t have to lose their expertise.
Leadership development training needs to include ways to pass on this kind of experience to new leaders, but many companies struggle with knowledge sharing. In a survey by Brandon Hall, only 21% of respondents said that their knowledge-sharing efforts are effective or very effective. Here, we’ll discuss tactics to ensure that you can capture institutional knowledge and improve new leaders’ skills with consistent leadership training content.
How to Maintain Expertise
Perhaps the most important consideration in this process is how to capture the knowledge of your more experienced leaders. When leaders use certain skills, they may not do so consciously, making it challenging to identify them as critical behaviors.
Capturing Institutional Knowledge
To capture institutional knowledge, you must first identify the more experienced and more effective leaders within each department. Role-specific knowledge will vary, but you will likely find some similarities when it comes to soft skills. Ideally, each leader will offer some expertise on role-specific processes as well — but “leader” doesn’t necessarily mean a leadership role. You may also want to consider including the talented individual contributors whom other employees seek out for help.
The next step is to record these individuals’ subject-specific knowledge by adding details and suggestions to the documentation around company processes, policies and platforms. For the soft skills critical to leadership training, data may be more qualitative. For instance, record conversations between leaders and their employees, and take note when they exhibit skills like active listening, providing feedback or giving instructions. You can also conduct surveys or short evaluations to gauge the knowledge, skills and common behaviors within your sample of leaders.
After some general analysis of the leaders within your organization, you may find certain themes or behaviors emerging consistently. They will help you make a performance map of the behaviors of an ideal leader to base your training strategy on.
Learning Portal/Learning Management System (LMS) Content-hosting Solutions
To be useful, the data gathered through whichever methods you choose has to be accessible. Short of updating your leadership development training content, organize and present institutional knowledge through internal knowledge repositories, databases or learning portals. If possible, make the content mobile-friendly as well. In a survey by Brandon Hall, 77% of respondents cited the ability to view content on mobile devices as the most important characteristic of knowledge-sharing efforts.
If you plan to update your corporate training based on the data captured in your research, then mentoring will be vital for your leadership training strategy. But there are multiple approaches to mentoring, any of which may work for your company:
Traditional mentoring strategies match compatible mentors and mentees for long-term relationships. Moreover, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile apps are making it easier to match mentors and mentees based on compatibility. For example, learners can complete mobile-friendly forms to provide information like personality types and career goals to help find the mentor that best aligns with their needs.
Traditional mentoring is often made available only to high achievers or to a select few. However, some companies are changing this dynamic and offering these opportunities to most or all employees in a less formal setting. One way to organize informal mentoring is to provide a platform on which experienced employees identify areas of expertise they are willing to share. Then, employees can reach out and request help in those specific areas.
New training technology has made virtual mentoring more manageable by supporting video calls and social communications. However, virtual mentoring also comes with some challenges. If your company is creating a virtual mentoring program, make sure your mentors’ and mentees’ expectations are aligned. Consider creating assets like standard agendas, communications plans and support plans to guide conversations.
As another generation of talented leaders begins to phase out of the workforce, you’ll want to make sure your organization doesn’t lose their experience and expertise. When you’re designing a training strategy for leadership development, don’t forget to include a method for knowledge-sharing. Traditional mentor-mentee relationships are one way to prepare future leaders, but whichever method you choose should be tailored to your company.