Hand off

The Right Way to Transfer Knowledge

Bridging the generational divide is good for the future of your business.

By Ashley Keating

When older employees retires, younger employees must step up. All too often, however, the next generation wants to do it their own way—or, at the very least, doesn’t appreciate the full value of the retiring employee’s experience. And the vet is made to feel like time has passed him by.

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So how can organizations help? Easy—put constraints on the exchange, suggests new research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The younger employee’s singular role is to receive information. The retiring employee’s only responsiblity is to impart knowledge. 

In other words: Just facts, no judgement.

By removing subjectivity, you’re letting the elephant out of the room. The younger employee won’t be tempted to scoff at the elder’s Daytimer, and the retiring employee won’t be left with the feeling that the company is now in the hands of a know-it-all narcissist. 

Bonus: Being involved in this process raises engagement and decreases attrition in both younger and older employees.

Burmeister, Anne, et al. “Understanding the Motivational Benefits of Knowledge Transfer for Older and Younger Workers in Age-Diverse Coworker Dyads: An Actor–Partner Interdependence Model.” Journal of Applied Psychology, 2019, doi:10.1037/apl0000466.