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20 CHAPTER THREE SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS OF STATE TRANSPORTATION AGENCY QUESTIONNAIRE RESULTS AND LITERATURE SURVEY REGARDING SPECIFIC EFFORTS TO CAPTURE KNOWLEDGE OF EXPERIENCED RETIRING OR EXITING EMPLOYEES STATE TRANSPORTATION AGENCY RESPONSES from the literature survey and synthesized into the 42 ideas FOR QUESTION 1 listed here. The first question on the survey questionnaire ascertained 1. Establish mentoring programs. whether specific efforts are being made by STAs to capture 2. Establish ongoing process to determine which employ- the knowledge of experienced retiring or exiting employees. ees have the most critical knowledge. Thirty-three STAs reported making such efforts. 3. Institute succession and career development planning. 4. Build repositories of knowledge that professionals need Figure 1 shows the number of respondents who selected as they move through the organization. one or more of the five choices for Question 1 (see Appen- 5. Master practices of knowledge transfer, such as face- dix C for detailed results). The most common practice was the to-face skill training programs. exit interview; however, it may not be as effective as desired, 6. Use technology to supplement person-to-person knowl- because it may not be able to capture years of experience and edge transfer. it may be conducted by HR employees who cannot be expected 7. Explore phased retirement. to have technical depth in the leave-takers' expertise. Note 8. Look for new ways to retain key workers. that seven DOTs reported having a succession plan process 9. Use retirees' expertise by implementing formal pro- in place. Nine reported assigning "knowledge-capturing tasks" grams to reemploy recent retirees, especially on contract to senior staff on an ongoing basis. or part-time basis (i.e., an intentional, focused program, as opposed to ad hoc, on-the-fly hiring in time of crisis STA comments to Question 1 revealed some other STA or in unplanned manner). practices: 10. Build a knowledge-retention culture and make knowl- edge retention part of the organization's mission. · Retaining the retiree as a consultant after a two-year 11. Understand that voluntary reductions, because the most period or as a "retired" state employee with a salary cap. marketable and knowledge individuals leave first, can · Using retired annuitants to transfer information, train harm social networks and undermine trust. new managers, provide ongoing level of expertise. 12. Spread pay cuts rather than layoffs to maintain under- · Overlapping or double-filling positions for up to several lying social networks. months with incumbent mentoring successor. 13. Systematically record knowledge of employees on · Providing opportunities for employees to perform "act- verge of retirement by using video, interviews, and ing" roles for vacations or in the course of career man- documentation. agement plans. 14. Pay bonuses to departing employees willing to share their working knowledge with their replacements. There are no doubt informal practices being carried out in 15. Encourage workers to mingle across department bound- many STAs at some organizational level or even by consci- aries, etc., to facilitate knowledge transfer. entious individuals; however, the questionnaire results do not 16. Use social network analysis to map patterns of inter- show a focused agency-wide intentionality regarding how to action and identify key individuals. deal with the loss of knowledge as a result of to leave-taking. 17. Use knowledge mapping techniques. 18. Investigate in a purposeful manner why individuals SYNTHESIS OF PRACTICES TAKEN FROM leave the organization. LITERATURE SURVEY ON LEAVE-TAKING 19. Pay close attention to worker demographics and staff positions requiring extensive experience so as to allow The annotated literature survey in Appendix I documents junior employees to grow in experience. numerous practices for dealing with leave-taking, some 20. Allow succession practices in selected critical spe- short-term, but most long-term. Many ideas were taken cialized positions.
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21 20 18 16 14 No. of STAs Selecting 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Require exit Assign individuals Have succession Assign knowledge Other interviews to document plan process capturing tasks expertise to senior staff, ongoing basis FIGURE 1 Specific efforts to capture knowledge of leave-taking employees (n = 60; multiple selections allowed). 21. Shape the organization to meet future demands by 33. Give employees just-in-time access to retirees as they understanding whether the organization itself (or need them for current work. department) is in a growth or stewardship cycle. 34. Understand it is necessary to gather knowledge from 22. Encourage employees to transfer between disciplines the high performers only, regardless of their level in to increase skill sets. the organization or job slot. 23. Ensure that attention is paid to less glamorous but crit- 35. Identify core processes in organization that need pro- ical positions. tection and identify top performers in those processes. 24. Include social scientists, cultural anthropologists, trans- 36. Use specialized interviews called a "naïve new per- portation historians, and other social scientists on con- son" interview, led by a coach, and then polishing that sulting teams. knowledge gleaned into a best practice stored in an 25. Use sophisticated software to analyze make-or-break electronic library. losses in key competencies. 37. Update knowledge, especially that which is stored in 26. Develop extended "supply chains" of people by cre- explicit form, regularly through continuous use and ating pools of individuals to train and develop so they feedback. are ready to move into positions in about three years. 38. Seek not to retain workers but to constantly "re-recruit" 27. Reduce importance of positions and skills of retiring them by engaging and valuing them. workers by revamping job or outsourcing. 39. Make sure employees do not have to choose between 28. Redesign existing processes to focus on knowledge loyalty to their careers and loyalty to their organization. retention needs. 40. Engage retired workers on a project-consulting basis. 29. Calculate the cost of lost critical knowledge in terms 41. Create a retiree job bank. of how much productivity will be lost. 42. Hold one-day wisdom transfer workshops. 30. Leverage what is already in place, such as by making exit interviews more knowledge oriented or improv- Note that these practices come from a variety of organiza- ing existing communities of practice or focus groups. tions. Some may already be used by STAs and others may 31. Hire people with strong knowledge-sharing skills and not be applicable. Moreover, individual state rules and regu- behaviors. lations may make an idea impractical or even illegal. These 32. Allow employees to "shadow" senior staff and reward ideas are offered more in the spirit of brainstorming than as senior staff for that. recommendations.