Ask any manager—they’ll tell you that firing an employee is by far the most difficult and unrewarding aspect of being a boss. Anyone who’s ever had to “let somebody go” will confirm that meeting with a worker to terminate their employment is, at best, an awkward and unpleasant event. Such a meeting can easily become ugly and painful for all concerned.
Even when the employee being terminated is able to keep their emotions in check, they’re almost certain to be unhappy and upset. Clearly, a meeting like this is a less-than-optimal time for you to ask, “Say…before Security escorts you out of the building? Would you mind showing me exactly how you reconcile that tricky daily utilization report?”
If you haven’t begun capturing employee knowledge already, don’t wait any longer
One of the first truths about knowledge capture: it’s an ongoing process, not an event. If you haven’t done so already, right now is a great time to start asking yourself where your organization’s mission-critical knowledge resides.
How will you recognize mission-critical knowledge?
For this exercise, keep focused on the knowledge that supports your key business processes and impacts productivity. You’ll want to think about the information that employees use to
Tip: In most organizations, the tried-and-true 80/20 rule applies: 20% of the information yields 80% of the results. That 20% is what you’re after, so the task of finding it probably won’t be as daunting as it may seem.
Where you’ll find it
Where will you find this mission-critical knowledge? The bad news is that even if it’s written down somewhere and you manage to locate it, it’s very likely to be incomplete, out-of-date, or inaccurate. Most of the time, the knowledge you’re looking for will exist only inside employees’ heads.
The good news for you is that now you know where it is—and there are strategies you can use to capture it now, before those employees walk out the door.
(Next time we’ll describe the top-down approach that we recommend for the first phase of information capture.)