How to Capture Knowledge From Employees Before They Leave

Friday, August 5, 2016

At this point it’s clear. People in your organization—you know, the ones you go to for all your questions about how to get things done—are starting to retire. And while you may ask them to train those who are taking their place, you know most of that information will be lost. You’ve known it was coming, but coming up with an effective solution hasn’t been easy.

Additionally, if you don’t do a good job retaining high performers in your organization, that knowledge drain will hurt you in many ways.

What if it turns out that there is one solution to both problems?

Let’s start with the basic question: How do we capture what the best people—those who know how to get things done—know and do? And then once we know what that is, how can we share it with those who need to know?

The answer is simple. Use your high performers and those with valuable expertise to create a competency model. A competency model describes what it looks like to be great in each role by defining the skills and the knowledge required to execute each part of the corporate strategy.


This ATD webcast shows you how to build a competency model in just weeks. You’ll learn how to capture all the critical nuances of what people do to be successful. This includes building relationships, what steps you should take, and what tools you can create to ensure success.

Once you know what the knowledge-holders know and have individuals in place who can share competency-based learning with others, you can move on to the next step: creating a competency assessment tool.

The competency assessment tool gives: 

  • everyone in that role the ability to see what great looks like their first day on the job (onboarding) 
  • everyone in that role the ability to compare their skills and identify what gaps they have (individual skill development) 
  • people who are not yet in that role the ability to compare their skills and identify what gaps they have (career planning) 
  • hiring managers the ability to fine-tune who they hire (recruiting).

You will also want to connect the competency model to competency-based learning, and then automate that connection. This provides personalized learning, which empowers people to close their own gaps.
What’s more, providing this kind of empowerment to your employees will make it more likely that your high performers will stay. They will know how to close their skills gaps, and how to prepare for other roles in the organization that may suit them.

To capture knowledge from employees before they leave: 

  • Use them to build a competency model. 
  • Make that competency model actionable in a competency assessment tool. 
  • Leverage personalized learning to empower people to close their own gaps and drive retention.

Now your employees know how to become high performers, whether for the job they have or the job they want, which will make them want to stay.

About the Author

Cheryl Lasse is SkillDirector’s managing partner. Her goal is helping people and companies achieve their potential. Cheryl has extensive experience with competency model development and implementation, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion with others. Check out the LinkedIn group Competency Models For Professional Development.

She believes people are intrinsically motivated to excel, if they are given access to a competency model for their role, the opportunity to assess themselves against that model, and personalized learning to help them close gaps and meet aspirational goals. This philosophy has been embodied in the Self-Directed Learning Engine, the engine behind the ATD Skill Tracker.

Cheryl has a strong background in consulting, marketing, and sales, mostly in technology companies, where training has played a chief role throughout her career. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Syracuse University in computer science and HR, and an MBA from the University of South Florida.

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