The Knowledge Transfer Gulf

kristopher-roller-320077-unsplashWhen researching for a keynote on the workforce crisis, I came across troubling statistic after troubling statistic. The most worrisome has to do with intentionality around developing people and therefore transferring not just knowledge but nuances, judgment calls, behavioral impacts, and the leadership expertise necessary to influence and rally to a cause. Effective leadership is a “with and thru” endeavor – not an assertion of power.

If you feel like the sands are shifting, it’s because they are. 70% of the workplace will be Gen Y & Z in a matter of a few short years – or months really. Those who care about mentoring and leadership development tend to be these generations. Those who are senior and seasoned value it less according to a recent survey (Only 38% of Xers & 31% of Boomers[1].) That’s a significant disappointment and a challenge, as those who need to be engaged in knowledge transfer aren’t that concerned about it, while those who need it are also those who want it. We’ve got to set our next leaders, our organizations, and our companies up for success – that requires an attitude shift.

It’s difficult to understand why we entertain complaining about the very people we are counting on to fulfill the roles we need in the workplace, and consider it an effective response to what is already the majority of the workplace – and soon to be an overwhelming majority. Engaging, encouraging, demonstrating, creating experiential opportunities – these are far more appropriate ways to impact those who are on our teams and who need experiential opportunities to try, fail, and get up and keep going. Interestingly, that’s exactly what they want – professional development and career ladders.

What I hear most in workplaces is the word “overwhelm.” Time deficiency is the excuse for choosing to put tasks over people as part of the culture, which is usually magnified by restricted resources for the appropriate number of personnel needed to complete the work. While we may think we are getting things done, we are creating a scenario in which employees don’t believe their bosses are interested in them, therefore they do less, or don’t know what or how to do what they are being asked, because they’ve had no mentoring, training, or experiential development. Leaders then complain about the employees and wind up doing their own jobs & a portion of their team’s jobs, “because it has to get done.” It’s validated in a 15% increase from 70% to 85% in Gallup’s poll on engagement in the workplace over the last couple of years. Let’s be clear – that’s 70% to now 85% who are Unengaged at work.

So when we determine we don’t have time for our people, to do knowledge transfer, to develop them, and then turn around and bash them for lack of productivity, failing to understand our culture of work insanity, being unengaged, and so forth, why do we then feign surprise? Leaders are stepping further away from those who can help us through a transition in our companies and organizations. They must – as it will shortly be theirs completely. Remember, the numbers don’t add up – they absolutely must step up earlier than their predecessors in senior roles, because there are not enough Xers. It’s just math – our opinions about it don’t matter.

Our actions regarding what we do about it are crucial.

[1] 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study

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