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96 APPENDIX I Annotated Literature Survey Regarding Challenges Owing to High Rate of Retirements and Leave-Taking SHORT-TERM IDEAS willing to share their working knowledge with their replace- ments. Newer employees can work alongside most knowl- Steve Bates (2003) interviewed Thomas H. Davenport, direc- edgeable employees, especially in project-based situations. tor of the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change. According Because tacit knowledge is more easily reproduced through to Bates, Davenport recounted an event involving an explo- imitation and adaptation than through traditional documenta- sion in a petroleum plant in which investigators discovered tion, letting workers with varying levels of expertise mingle that the company's engineer and control room operators had can facilitate transfer of essential knowledge. been on the job for less than one year and lacked the expe- rience to prevent the accident. Often less attractive jobs are LONGER-TERM ORGANIZATIONAL vulnerable to knowledge loss. According to Bates, recom- DEVELOPMENT APPROACHES mended steps for capturing the expertise and knowledge of workers near retirement include: (1) mentoring programs; Christopher Conte (2006) described how state and local offi- (2) identifying knowledge at-risk by establishing a process to cials are grappling with the unprecedented loss of institutional determine which employees have the most critical knowl- memory because of the number of public officials approach- edge; (3) instituting succession and career development plan- ing retirement. Those concerned with institutional memory ning; (4) building knowledge that professionals will need as must focus on knowledge management (KM), especially tacit they move through the organization; (5) mastering practices knowledge. Some organizations try to collect lessons learned; of knowledge transfer, including face-to-face, training pro- however, it is unclear if such systems work. Do people really grams, and other human resources tools; (6) using information have time to read through past case studies and, if they do, technology, which can supplement person-to-person knowl- are the studies relevant to the new project at hand, which may edge transfer; (7) exploring phased retirement and looking well be a brand-new problem? Too much focus on the past for new ways to hold on to key workers; (8) using retirees can make government less flexible and effective; past infor- effectively and considering formal programs to re-employ mation may be irrelevant, given the pace of change. Another former employees; and (9) building a retention culture and strategy often used is training, but much learning goes on in making retention part of the organization's mission. real life, so the effectiveness of training is subject to question. For example, the Georgia Merit Systems, the central person- Eric Lesser and Laurence Prusak (2001) wrote that volun- nel agency for the state of Georgia, urges agencies to give tary reductions in the work force may have a negative effect promising employees accelerated opportunities to broaden on preserving knowledge. Unfortunately, often the most mar- their experience through job shadowing, mentoring, job rota- ketable and knowledgeable individuals leave first. In addi- tions, and various special assignments. However, there are only tion, sometimes early retirement programs are offered in con- so many slots and not all employees can be given one. junction with voluntary reductions, which only compounds the problem. Downsizing can hurt the social networks that Conte described a promising new technique called "social play a critical role in helping people identify, share, and work network analysis" or "knowledge mapping," based on the idea with corporate knowledge. Worse, managers may not even that it's not what you know but whom you know. He described be aware of the roles that individuals play as knowledge a pilot project in this technique in the Canadian federal gov- activists--the authors tell us the World Bank calls them "bon- ernment's environmental agency that used social networking, ders and bridgers"--who oil the wheels that keep informa- whereby people were asked whom they rely on for help with tion flowing. Cutbacks and outsourcing can undermine trust different issues. Patterns of interaction were mapped and some that is critical to knowledge transfer. Tightened business con- individuals were identified as "nodes" in the network. In some ditions can lessen the slack time needed for knowledge shar- areas, a few key individuals were heavily relied on; therefore, ing. In times when immediate, quantifiable payback is management must take steps to develop skills in others. sought, managers may send an unspoken message that manag- There were risks: some saw the process as an invasion of pri- ing knowledge is something we can live without. The authors vacy, some managers saw it as threatening to their control, recommended some solutions. By spreading pay cuts rather and some workers who played essential functions outside than layoffs, the underlying social networks can be main- their official duties were afraid of being punished for not tained. Organizations can develop systematic processes for adhering to their job descriptions. recording knowledge of employees on the verge of retire- ment by using video interviews and hyperlinks to documents Conte further asserted that if effective use of knowledge and reports. Bonuses can be paid to departing employees catches on in the public sector, credit must go to individuals
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97 such as Maureen Hammer, Virginia Transportation Depart- warned that if companies do not prepare now, no amount of ment Knowledge Manager Officer. She found that networks money thrown at the problem will be enough. The problem of contacts among employees were becoming more localized will span at least a decade. Kiger made the point that the vul- in the face of fiscal austerity that limited travel in the state, nerability may be not so much in the positions of current "top membership in professional associations, etc. She used knowl- talents," but in the less glamorous jobs that are hard to fill, edge mapping to find out whom employees relied on to get such as jobs on oils rigs, maintenance, in difficult environ- their job done. Hammer instituted communities of practice. ments, or that require significant time away from families. According to Conte, Hammer believes communities of prac- Among his solutions to help companies cope was including tice have to yield short-term dividends, and must secure con- social scientists and cultural anthropologists along with con- tinued support from top management and policymakers to ventional business consultants on consulting teams. Use buy time to put into effect longer-term efforts. In one instance, sophisticated software to analyze the problem within indi- an online community of practice stalled because participants vidual organizations to figure out where make-or-break losses did not know or trust each other well enough to discuss prob- in key competencies may occur. Entice older workers to remain lems openly. Conte wrote that Hammer argued that KM must on the job. Make jobs interesting for retirement-eligible work- transcend turf battles and must not be used against people. ers. Redesign jobs to provide more flexible working hours or KM leaders must facilitate, not direct, and stay neutral. telecommuting. Redesign work environments to be more ergonomically comfortable, including easier-to-read computer monitors and other tools. Do succession planning beyond the Quality Management Systems--Guidelines for Performance top executive level. Develop extended supply chains of peo- Improvements, ISO 9004:2000 ple by creating a pool of individuals to train and develop so they are ready to move into positions in about three years. Guidelines for Performance Improvements (2000) Section Capture departing workers' knowledge, through mentoring 6.2.1 states that "As an aid to achieving its performance programs and better documentation. Change the business improvement objectives, the organization should encourage strategy to reduce the importance of the positions and skills the involvement and development of its people" (p. 15). It goes of retiring workers by revamping jobs or outsourcing. on to list 12 ways to do that, including "by investigating the reasons why people join and leave the organization" (p. 15). Vicki J. Powers (2006), in an article published on the "Free Resources/Knowledge Management" section of APQC's Frank M. Kahren (2004) advised paying close attention to (formerly known as American Productivity & Quality Center) worker demographics. Managers should staff positions requir- website, referenced some of the ideas of Darcy Lemons, also ing extensive experience with the intention of allowing more of APQC, who argued that one of the best ways to retain junior employees to grow in experience. Allow succession in critical knowledge is to embed knowledge retention efforts positions where workers are so specialized as to be key to in the overall management strategy by redesigning existing some segment of the operation, especially in those day-to-day processes to focus on knowledge retention needs. First, iden- jobs of people who actually run the system. Shape the orga- tify critical knowledge that may be at risk because of retire- nization to mirror more closely future demands. For exam- ments or layoffs; second, communities of practice and other ple, organizations typically go through cycles. Growth cycles such human resource approaches, although in themselves require more planners; stewardship cycles require people to useful tools, are not always the proper tools for identifying operate, sustain, and upgrade existing systems. One action and retaining critical knowledge. Powers recommended cal- the organization can take is not to replace departing employ- culating the cost of lost critical knowledge--how much pro- ees whose skills are not as applicable to the cycle the orga- ductivity will be lost? How will research and development nization is in. Organizations can also encourage employees to remain competitive? She went on to discuss how choosing transfer between disciplines and increase their skill sets. As the right tools to capture knowledge depends on the culture an example, during stewardship cycles planners can become of an organization, but the most important aspect is leverag- operations, training, or human resources personnel, and this ing what is already in place. For example, if human resources cross-discipline work provides a great overall benefit to the already conduct exit interviews, record the responses and organization. Such reorganization can be particularly useful capture that knowledge. In some organizations, communities when there is an executive vacancy and less likelihood of of practice work better; in others, focus groups are better. protecting territorial boundaries. Kahren reminded us that Tool selection depends on the person who has the knowledge people leave, there are terminations, individuals quit to pursue and who will be the recipient. A scientist will probably pass other opportunities, and people choose to retire. This employ- on documents; however, that can be augmented by mentoring, ment cycle is inevitable and organizations can use it to save or having another employee "shadow" the scientist. Hire peo- money, make the workplace less threatening, preserve the ple with strong knowledge-sharing behaviors such as "high- level of experience, and facilitate necessary reorganizations. touch" capabilities; ability to function well in communities of practice, face-to-face meetings; and also ability to use ded- Patrick J. Kiger (2005) described the predicament caused by icated KM repositories effectively. Use phased programs the aging of the baby boom generation as a "Y2K" problem. He during which retirees are brought back with more flexible or
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98 shorter hours. Give current employees "just-in-time" access maintaining that workers do not want to be "retained," they to retirees as they need them for current work. want to be valued and engaged. Typical retainment approaches of raising salaries or changing job titles have little to no effect. William Seidman and Michael McCauley (2005) presented Provide opportunities for formal and informal learning; set methods for protecting an organization against the potential up situations where workers do not have to choose between loss of retiring knowledge workers (RKWs). They recom- loyalty to their careers and loyalty to their organizations; mended that although the conventional wisdom is to gather and nurture small work groups, which fosters commitment. the knowledge of everyone approaching retirement age, in Develop a culture conducive for eliciting commitment and fact it is necessary to gather the knowledge of only critical, engaging knowledge workers. high-performing knowledge workers, the "best of the best." They recommended aiming for quality assurance of the con- UTILIZING RETIREES POST-RETIREMENT tent; at some companies, individuals nearing retirement have OR KEEPING RETIREMENT-ELIGIBLE mentally retired years before and their knowledge may be out EMPLOYEES ON THE JOB of date and of marginal value to the organization. Focus on the highest performers, those who know how to get things Eric Lesser (2006) recommended a number of strategies for done, and harvest their knowledge regardless of age. Deter- addressing the aging work force. Create a cross-functional mine the critical or most core processes in the organization team of executives who have a solid understanding of over- that most require protection and identify the top performers all business objectives and marketplace needs, and have it in those processes. It may be seen as socially unacceptable to prioritize individual positions and groups where interven- identify publicly that some parts of an organization are more tion is critical. Redirect recruiting and sourcing efforts to important than others; however, from a knowledge perspec- include mature workers. Offer flexible benefits, including tive, it is essential to prioritize. Preserve only the knowledge unpaid leave around holidays or on the birth of a grandchild. of the few top-performing RKWs in key areas. Make use of the benefits that older workers bring to the work force, which are decreased absenteeism and customer reten- Seidman and McCauley go on to assert that only tacit tion. Institute programs in which older workers work on a knowledge of the top-performing RKWs matters. One of the project-consulting basis. Use telecommuting. Elicit tacit or most critical pieces of RKW knowledge is the subtle cueing experiential knowledge through detailed interviewing and/or and categorization process that enables quick discrimination documentation. Store knowledge in explicit form for future between a number of alternatives. They recommended a spe- use. Use mentoring arrangements and communities of prac- cialized interview called a "na´ve new person interview," led tice. Use technology to help employees share lessons learned, by a human facilitator, supported by digital coach technol- expand the organization's knowledge base, and improve ogy, which is software that simulates the human coaching operational quality. Use videotaping with or in addition to experience. Using it, the RKW can polish their knowledge storytelling. Use websites. The author cautioned that age into a best practice, which can then be made available through alone is not linked directly to difficulty in adopting com- an electronic library. They recommended that RKW knowl- puter use in the workplace. There are accessibility issues such edge not necessarily be stored to be used only after the as deciphering smaller typefaces, understanding the audio worker retires, but that it is promptly made available both for portion of a streaming video, or controlling hand motions immediate improvement to the organization and is protected for use of a computer mouse. Incorporate ample time for for use in the future, when the RKW is no longer there for the practice of new technology. Address learning needs by personal contact. Thus, the RKW knowledge can immediately considering programs that focus on building new skills and be used to improve less-effective performers, rather than for leveraging the wealth of experience. just one successor. Gathering RKW knowledge is not just a one-time event; however, successors should regularly update Jay Liebowitz (2004) reported on the issue of determin- the knowledge through continuous use and feedback. Thus, ing and closing knowledge and skills gaps in the federal the problem is not so much an RKW problem, but a knowl- government. He cited numerous studies about the dimen- edge problem. The goal is to make what is today considered sion of the challenge and detailed numerous initiatives that "RKW knowledge loss" into a process that protects knowl- can be taken by the federal government to deal with the edge losses generally from layoffs, illness, transfers, or other problem. One often overlooked source is the untapped pool forms of departure. The authors believe that the potential for of talent: the federal retirees themselves. Options are a knowl- massive retirements can present an opportunity to improve edge retention program, mentoring activities, and knowledge overall productivity and that by following their approach, the sharing forums with retirees and current government employ- RKW problem can be resolved permanently. ees. He asserted that many retirees would like to work in some capacity and seek opportunities to share their insights Mallory Stark (2004) discussed "knowledge nomads"; to help bridge possible knowledge gaps. Another initiative that is, workers who job hop taking their knowledge with is the creation of a more flexible work force, with a segment them. She recommended that managers seek not to "retain" of the work force kept on-call to deal with specific issues. workers who are knowledge-rich, but to "re-recruit" them; He referred to management theorist Charles Handy's frame-
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99 work for organizational workers: (1) a core group of man- ing procedures and processes, and brown bag lunches twice agers and skilled workers who lead the organization and a week. provide stability and continuity; (2) the contractual fringe; and (3) a flexible labor-force of a project-based employee pool, Liebowitz reviewed a survey of NASA and NIST (National composed of people loosely connected to the organization Institute of Standards and Technology) retirees and alumni on a job-by-job basis. Older workers might be useful in that found that 91% agree they would be interested in work- items 2 and 3. ing part-time with their former employers. They favored phased retirement programs, retiree job banks, emeritus pro- Other ideas from Liebowitz include tapping retirees as re- grams, part-time retired annuitant/project team consultant employed annuitants; use retirees as part-time employees programs, and mentoring programs. They were less interested through reemployed part-time or phased retirement programs. in knowledge-sharing forums, rehearsal retirement/boomerang Unions, however, may look unfavorably on this approach as jobs, job sharing, facilitating online communities of practice, taking jobs from current employees. Other options include or a knowledge capture/retention program. He made four Canada's technique of "casual employment," especially when recommendations: (1) that there be legislation giving all fed- specialized expertise is required; limited-term appointments; eral agencies authority to reemploy annuitants and to insti- using retirees as mentors, emeriti, or as participants in knowl- tute phased retirement programs, (2) that federal employees edge sharing forums; and knowledge capture activities such should be brought back into the work force for knowledge as knowledge sharing workshops, storytelling, and one day sharing and management roles, (3) that each agency have an "transfer wisdom" workshops. He suggested expert data- association of retirees and alumni to allow quick access to bases of current and retired practitioners, programs where talent, and (4) that each agency have a more flexible work a new employee shadows a prospective retiree, document- force and that retirees be a part of that work force.