Transfering Tribal Knowledge

The day is finally here! The day that one of your best employees have been working toward their whole life: retirement. They have spent most of their years using a little bit of elbow grease to make your company thrive. Implementations of processes, problem solving strategies, and organizational plans proudly have their name on them. They have become your ‘go to person’. Now it’s time for them to pass the baton to someone else. But wait, who will receive the baton and will they keep up with the success they have created?

The issues that this scenario poses is becoming more prevalent today as large number of the baby boomer generation begin to retire, companies are scrambling to bridge the gap between the millennials’ inexperience and the retiring expert worker. These retiring employees contain a vital component to the function of most companies: deep smarts. Deep smarts is a type of knowledge that can only be obtainable through experience. The day-to-day of their job becomes second nature for them and can be very difficult to verbalize this type of knowledge, therefore unfolding the multi-leveled issues that affect the financial, competitive, and organizational aspects of a company when these employees are gone.

An effective strategy to implement involves varied components that would be ignited prior to the retirement stage of employees.

Allow impending retirees to assist with candidate searches

A tough as nails work ethic and company loyalty were ways of life that were embedded into the baby boomer generation. Potential candidates for the position from a different generation, specifically the millennials, are wired differently with regards to work ethic and general work practices. Some of the more traditional ways of thinking through certain processes at work are not shared between these generations. Therefore, taking the time to allow impending retirees to express input during the search process would benefit the company greatly in that they are able to utilize their employee’s discernment as another filter for the hiring process.

Invest time into less experienced employees

The main reason companies are facing these issues that are detrimental to their success is because they are losing the only person who can do that job effectively. A method to lessen the pressure of finding their replacement would be to hire young aspiring workers with a desire to become a leader in their industry and have them develop a mentoring type relationship through internships, co-ops, and hands-on learning. In order for this upcoming generation to become successful leaders of the workforce, they need to get their hands dirty and work side by side our current leaders.

Assess and modify

Not all companies are created equal and what works for one may not work for another. Maybe it’s a battle to get retiring employees involved with interviews or maybe a particular internship was a disaster. Look at how your employees respond to these situations and how it affects the progress of your company to make modifications in hopes of the transfer of tribal knowledge.


Ravinder Tulsiani is the Author of the #1 BESTSELLER: “Your Leadership Edge”, an innovative step-by-step leadership training program that will help you develop a highly engaged and super-charged workforce… get your copy at