Senior Executives Transition and Transfer Knowledge Elegantly and Intelligently

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As senior executives from the baby boomer generation leave corporate America, they will first need to transfer their knowledge to the younger generation stepping into a managerial capacity. Knowledge transfer is not an easy task and requires of senior executives the following:

1. Humility

The decades of hard work baby boomers committed to in order to learn the ropes of business required great personal sacrifice and a huge investment of time. The acquisition of such knowledge is the most prized possession of senior executives and not something that is turned over easily. Therefore, as senior executives retire and leave the company, it takes great humility to transfer all that they learned to a younger and perhaps less appreciative generation of workers.



2. Transparency

The temptation for senior executives will be to withhold certain information and tend toward letting the new managers learn it themselves through trial and error. What is best for the company, however, is the utmost transparency and full transfer of knowledge.

Of course, no executive can be coerced into coughing up information, no matter how much the company asks and requires that of him or her. Those who are forthright and fully disclose all of the information to their successors usually have working relationships with them as well as a degree of respectful affinity to the incoming leaders.

An amicable relationship between predecessor and successor is not something that can be forced, but rather is developed over time. That being said, when a company brings in someone from outside of the company to step into a managerial role without any foreknowledge or working relationship with the predecessor, this can be additionally challenging for the senior executive leaving.

A less than personal transfer of vital information and data accumulated over a lifetime is more easily done when given to someone you know versus an outsider coming in from afar. While successors would do well to honor and build a personal relationship with senior executives, if such doesn't happen, for the sake of the company, knowledge transfer still must occur with the utmost transparency.

3. Desirability

Senior executives need to cultivate a desire for success beyond themselves and their immediate role with the company. Senior executives must remember that there is truly no success without a successor. Therefore, seeing the successor as an extension of and part of their own success will increase desire on the part of senior executives to help their incoming junior counterparts.

4. Teamwork

A team means "together everybody achieves more." Senior executives know very well the importance of teamwork, building a corporate family, and securing outside alliances. These same values need to be embraced with equal enthusiasm when participating in knowledge transfer throughout the corporate family structure.

5. Personal and Company Legacy


Senior executives have built and established for themselves a tremendous legacy worthy of admiration. These great leaders must realize that part of the admiration is welcoming younger leaders to seek duplication of their results and achievements. Great leaders deserve to be modeled and followed behind as navigational points.

Senior executives are company parents, if you will, and therefore need to seek to build a lasting legacy beyond their individual successes. If the outgoing executive does not fully participate in knowledge transfer, the company he or she worked so hard to build could easily perish. The company legacy is ultimately the senior executive's legacy. Executives at every level should therefore participate in knowledge sharing to save time, increase managerial ability, and achieve corporate objectives.

6. Accessibility

Senior executives who are embracing and working toward knowledge transfer need to be accessible. New managers don't know everything to ask during the initial knowledge transfer sessions and will have questions along the way. Great executives make themselves available beyond the seasonal transition of power. This reveals and displays their deep commitment to the company's ongoing success. Simultaneously, such accessibility paves the way for senior executives to step into a consulting position should they want to pursue such.

Among the many types of knowledge needing to be transferred, here are a few worthy of attention.
  1. Managerial Hierarchy and Internal Workings

    The inner workings of every company have a dynamic of their own, which can sometimes easily be discerned though not fully understood. Grasping the appropriate protocol and chain of command is one element of leadership senior executives will need to coach their protégés in to ensure their success.

  2. Delegation Procedures Down the Chain of Command

    The proper way to delegate and to whom one should delegate needs to be taught to an incoming manager. Senior executives familiar with all of these nuances and company peculiarities will be extremely helpful in describing the preferred process to pursue company objectives. Undoubtedly, corporate outcomes cannot be achieved without adhering to corporate etiquette and administrative structural procedures. A smooth transition and progression can be ensured when senior executives coach their star replacements on such matters.

  3. Outsourcing Relationships with Key Contractors

    Outsourcing relationships beyond the internal employees requires a different skill set and maneuverability. Building corporate friends and alliances among the key players within your industry is vital to ensure your image and credibility in the industry, and to leverage marketability. All of these crucial variables and tedious relationships require tender loving care to adequately respect what has already been accomplished and yet pursue more over the long term. Beyond a knowledge transfer, senior executives need to cordially introduce their new managers to their circle of corporate friends and power players who help make it happen for the company.

  4. Product and Services

    The manufacturing of products and selling of services contain many key components that enable the business to remain operational. This whole process needs to be taught to the incoming manager so he or she can adequately oversee and implement these necessary criteria to ensure operational success.

  5. Deal Makers and Deal Breakers to Watch Out for So as Not to Sabotage the Business

    Certain deal makers and deal breakers that are not negotiable need to be pointed out and adequately emphasized. Whether it's a part or process within manufacturing, or a vital link to procuring sales — all need to be given adequate attention. Merely assuming the incoming manager will simply know could lead to disaster.

  6. Company History as to Past Successes to Ensure and Sustain Ongoing Success

    Historical successes and failures need to be noted and explained by senior executives during the knowledge transfer sessions. This enables new managers to pattern their managerial approach after the successes and avoid repeating the failures.

  7. Hostile Market Forces that Could Impede Progress

    Hostile market forces and stock market frailty, which could lead to mergers and acquisitions, need to be guarded against and fully accounted for. Certain warning signs and red flags of impending danger need to be fully explained as they will convey to incoming managers what to watch out for and prevent.

  8. Compensation Plans and Policies

    Company compensation plans and policies must be explained so each manager will know what he or she has as leverage when negotiating with key employees to get them to stay with the company. In a day when competing companies are seeking to steal employees from other firms, compensation packages and benefits are vital to both lure and keep key workers who are critical to corporate success.

  9. Conflict Resolution Methodology

    Where there is intense work and productivity occurring, there will at times be tension among the ranks and disagreements. Corporate policy and procedures for resolving disputes usually will neither be in writing nor able to help. Senior executives with a feel for their workers will know how to elegantly navigate through relational conflict and address individual needs. Such skills should be taught and transferred to a new manager coming in lest he or she be caught unawares and overwhelmed by internal bickering and quarrels.

  10. Managerial Philosophy and Mentoring Employees

    The managerial philosophy, mentoring of workers, and balancing act between the many managerial duties should be transferred to incoming managers. The many roles can more easily be embraced and accomplished when the spirit and mission of the company is properly communicated by way of its managerial philosophy.

    The company history, initial mission, and how it has evolved over time are most useful for new managers to know. Understanding these factors will provide managers a clear path and direction in which to grow.

    No managerial transfer of power is easy, nor is it ever perfect. Yet by applying the aforementioned principles, the knowledge transfer can be far more comfortable and successful.

About the Author

Executive Coach Paul F. Davis provides powerful secrets for senior managers to transfer knowledge and transition into retirement, while elegantly and intelligently bringing in new leadership to fulfill corporate objectives. No transition of power is easy, but by applying these principles it can be far more comfortable and successful.

For more information, please visit www.paulfdavis.com.
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