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Transfer of skills: what’s the best approach?

The transfer of skills is a strategic issue for companies. Transmitting knowledge and know-how is critical to ensuring business continuity and handling the many disruptions in your skill pool: the training of new recruits, long-term leave, retirement, etc. Which methodology should you adopt to organize the transfer of skills within your company?



Defining the transfer of skills


The transfer of skills is an essential process within companies. It’s the practice of transmitting knowledge and know-how between the organization’s employees, to avoid losses of business continuity.


Retirement, long-term sick leave, a work accident or simply the voluntary departure of an employee: many situations put knowledge and know-how at risk if the transfer of skills is not ensured. And this human capital, acquired through professional experience and training, is an invaluable asset to an organization. Retaining skills and passing them on is fundamental to guaranteeing operational performance – and therefore long-term survival.


Related: Skill-based hiring: a solution to talent shortages?



The benefits of transmitting skills


The transfer of skills brings many benefits to both company and employee.


Improved quality


The transfer of unique skills related to the company’s equipment and services, as well as to customer relations, produces significant quality gains. As a result, it also reduces the costs generated by non-quality.


Performance and productivity


Transmitting knowledge enables the company to increase its productivity and its long-term performance. Indeed, anticipating this transfer before an employee’s departure makes it possible to avoid a slump in the business due to a skills shortage. It secures your level of production and service.


Benefits to employees


The transfer of skills supports the decompartmentalisation of teams and encourages internal mobility. It improves employee satisfaction – particularly through better recognition of work. In addition, the prospect of acquiring new skills is a major factor of motivation for employees.



Organizing the transfer of skills


There are several steps to setting up a transfer plan and to effectively transmitting skills.


Taking stock of the situation


The first step is to identify the skills that are relevant to the transfer process – and the people who hold them. You also need to prioritize the skills to be covered by the transfer plan, for example by using a criticality table.


Training the skill holders and selecting the target group


The second stage is to identify the employees who will benefit from the transfer of skills. These will generally be the employees who most need to enrich their skills – such as new recruits or work-study students. But you will also need to train the skill holders and improve their ability to pass on their knowledge to the learners.


Identifying key moments for the transfer


If you can anticipate the transfer of skills, you will be able to implement your transfer plan at the most favorable moment. These key moments are generally the retirement of senior professionals and the arrival of new recruits in the company. The process can also be anticipated when an employee announces his or her departure, transfer or internal mobility plans a long time ahead.


Choosing the methods and tools


To encourage the transmission of knowledge and know-how between employees, many companies rely on tutoring, mentoring and sponsorship. Tutors are chosen from among senior employees who have already been trained as instructors and who therefore have the skills required to pass on their expertise.



The keys to a successful transfer of skills project


Transferring skills can be a time-consuming process, but this does not make it any less essential. To organize the transfer of knowledge is to build the company’s human capital and preserve its added value.


The following are some key steps to ensure the success of your company’s knowledge management strategy:


  • Ensure that everyone involved is willing: the skill holder must be prepared to pass on his or her expertise and the learner must be motivated to learn. In this respect, it is not advisable to set up a one-sided exchange where only the skill holder passes on his knowledge.


  • Organize the transfer of skills using a precise methodology.


  • Plan, coordinate and monitor the transfer of knowledge.


  • Train the skill holder to help him/her to transfer knowledge to the learner in the best possible way.


  • Inform the participants (skill holder and learner) about the new organization of working hours set up for the transfer of skills.



Good to know:

The trainee can also share his knowledge with the instructor. This is known as reverse mentoring. This approach makes it possible to create a genuine dialogue between employees from different parts of the company.

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