Jonathan DeVore

By: Jonathan DeVore on November 14th, 2023

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Do You Have an Employee Training or Knowledge Transfer Problem? (4 Signs)

knowledge transfer

Are your new hires proficient when they finish onboarding? Do your employees make frequent mistakes or rely on supervisors? Do you think you have a training problem?

What if I told you that’s not exactly true?

Often, companies think that if they fix training they’ll solve all their problems. But, then they redo the training curriculum, and … nothing changes. Why? They are addressing the wrong problem.

The real problem is knowledge transfer.

As the Head Consultant at ScreenSteps — a knowledge ops solution — I've coached many companies on documentation and training best practices. It is only when they reframe their problems into a knowledge transfer problem that they see real results.

So, do you have an employee training or knowledge transfer problem? Learn the difference between the two and the signs to look for, or jump to the 4-minute video here for an explanation.

Employee training vs knowledge transfer

While there is an overlap between employee training and knowledge transfer, there are subtle differences.

Employee training

Employee training is a program that is meant to teach employees the information and skills they need to know to do their jobs. The goal of employee training is to help employees KNOW something. 

Typically, businesses approach employee training with long lectures and quizzes. 

Employee training is usually one part of a knowledge transfer strategy.

Knowledge transfer

Knowledge transfer is the process of sharing knowledge with somebody else. In a business scenario, that is typically an expert sharing information with a new hire or less experienced employee. 

Ultimately, the goal of knowledge transfer is to help your employees or customers DO something. You want the person receiving the knowledge to be able to handle a situation on their own.

There are many different approaches to transferring knowledge. Employee training is one of those approaches.

4 signs you have a knowledge transfer problem

If you have any of the following signs, you have a knowledge transfer problem.

Watch the 4-minute video for an in-depth explanation as well as review the four signs below.

1. Employees don't know what to do after training

The most common sign that you have a knowledge transfer problem is that employees don't know what to do after training. 

After completing onboarding, employees are lost on the job. They are dependent on supervisors to help them handle tasks. And if they don't have supervisor support, they are making mistakes that supervisors have to go back and fix later on.

Usually, this means your training curriculum wasn't built to help employees do anything. So while they've been working on memorizing over the past weeks or months of training, they haven't had enough opportunities to practice their jobs and gain the skills they need to work independently.

2. It takes months for employees to reach proficiency

The second sign builds off of the first sign. How long does it take your new hires to reach proficiency

If new hires take months or more than a year (yes, we see that often) to reach proficiency, then you have a knowledge transfer problem. 

Now, when I say "reach proficiency," I mean that an employee can handle most tasks entirely on their own without needing to ask any clarifying questions or making mistakes.

Because employees aren't independent, supervisors spend most of their days answering questions. And, often, they are answering the same question over and over again.

3. Supervisors feel overwhelmed

With the constant stream of questions, supervisors are overwhelmed. The employees who are meant to lighten their burden are adding to it. 

Supervisors can't find any time to work on other projects because they are spending all of their time supporting employees.

4. Procedures take too long

The final sign you have a knowledge transfer problem is that it takes a long time for employees to handle procedures.

In a call center, that means call handle times take longer and customers are put on hold while agents figure out the procedure.

In back-office work, that equates to lost time and more unfulfilled projects.

Procedures take longer because employees don't know what they are doing, so they have to ask for help or figure it out on their own. 

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How do you solve a knowledge transfer problem?

If you have any of the four signs, now you know that you have a knowledge transfer problem. That means it is time to look beyond upgrading your training curriculum for your solution (although, a new training plan may be part of your knowledge transfer solution).

What you need is a knowledge transfer strategy

A knowledge transfer strategy will help you share knowledge with your employees so that they can handle tasks on their own without needing months of training and continued hand-holding from supervisors.

Your knowledge transfer strategy involves pairing the right technologies and methodologies with your business so that you can transfer knowledge more effectively and efficiently.

Specifically, we recommend a knowledge ops solution because a knowledge ops solution provides a comprehensive solution where the technology and methodology work hand-in-hand.

Technology options

There are a variety of different software options to help you transfer knowledge to your company. We recommend using a knowledge management system

Some knowledge management systems you may consider include:

Read this article for a more detailed list of software you can use for your knowledge transfer strategy.

Methodology options

There are many different frameworks and methodologies for managing and transferring knowledge.

Streamline knowledge transfer with the Find & Follow Framework 

Find & Follow provides you with a framework to transfer knowledge faster throughout your organization. 

ScreenSteps developed Find & Follow to streamline knowledge transfer. Companies that adopt Find & Follow train employees in 30 days or less.

Download a free copy of the Find & Follow playbook here. The e-book provides an outline for building your own Find & Follow Program, including how you can revamp your employee training curriculum. 

For a more detailed step-by-step guide for Find & Follow, you can buy a copy of the book on Kindle or paperback on Amazon and/or talk to a ScreenSteps expert.

Find & Follow Training Program Playbook

About Jonathan DeVore

Customer Success