How do you recognize and reward successful knowledge transfer? Over the years we’ve seen managers get pretty creative in how they publicly celebrate mentors and apprentices for their achievements together: awards, events, gifts—you name it.
Not only can these programs be fun, but good managers understand that recognition also serves a critical function: helping to drive measurable results and embed knowledge transfer in your culture.
How to Choose the Right Program
Choosing the right way to celebrate successful knowledge transfer with your team shouldn’t be complicated; in fact, it should fit as naturally as possible with how you already operate. But here are three best practices to keep in mind:
First, keep your program simple. You don’t want to choose anything too involved that you can’t sustain on an ongoing basis. A few hours a month for an admin or manager to carry out is a good benchmark.
Second, aim for light-hearted and fun. Knowledge transfer is serious (and sometimes stressful) business. This is an opportunity to help your mentors and apprentices have a good time with the process.
Third, recognize measurable achievements. For those using our 3-Step solution, the moment to celebrate is when a mentor agrees that their apprentice can answer all the test questions in an assigned Skill Development Plan (SDP). The apprentice is then turned from “yellow” to “green” on the Knowledge Silo Matrix (KSM), meaning they are consistent with the expert setting the standard and can work independently. Basing your recognition on this achievement means you’ll incentivize exactly the right outcomes.
7 Ideas For Your “Get Your Green On” Program
We’ve put together a list of examples from the field based on some of the best programs run by our clients. They should give you a sense of what’s possible and help you create your own program. A special thanks to Goodyear and to another of our top manufacturing clients for their creativity and leadership on this front.
- Create a gift — Head over to zazzle.com or other custom gift sites and create a knowledge transfer memento to give your apprentices and mentors. It could be a shirt, mug, water bottle or luggage tag. You can add your logo or team name and a message like, “Ask me what I’m green on” or “Look who’s purple now!” If you’re looking for some professionally-designed, ready-to-go gifts, we’ve created some custom graphics on these zazzle.com products.
- Host an Event— Organize a quarterly luncheon or awards ceremony for mentors and apprentices that have successfully completed an SDP. This can work particularly well if you add it to an existing, regularly-held event at your company.
- Make a certificate — Create mock diplomas for successful apprentices when they “graduate” to working independently in a knowledge silo. Customize it with their name and the knowledge silo to hang at their desk. Or, include it in an email congrats while cc’ing the whole team. If you’d like to get started right away, you can download these professionally-designed Steve Trautman Co. knowledge transfer certificates.
- Decorate desks — Surprise new “green” apprentices (and “purple” mentors) with balloons and streamers at their desks when they complete their full SDP. You can send decorations by mail for telecommuters!
- Give a reward — Offer apprentices and mentors tangible incentives—like a “telecommute day” or gift card—for turning green. Make sure to let the whole team know when and how the employee earned it.
- Post a goal thermometer — Display in your office(s) or circulate in a regular email a thermometer to track total team progress. Who turned green to help with your goal? Who are the new purples this month? To keep it light, include short anecdotes from the success: risks reduced, mistakes avoided, vacations taken by experts and weekends enjoyed without interruption!
- Take a team photo — Have your mentors and apprentices photographed for a “success wall” or slide show to celebrate.
These are just a few of the great ideas we’ve seen from the field. Add your own ideas in the Comments section below.