Capturing the Wisdom and Knowledge of Top Performers

bookWe were recently honored to have one of our articles appear in Talent Development Magazine. Below is a brief synopsis of that article about how to capture the wisdom and knowledge of your top performers. As a leader, expert wisdom and knowledge is right at your fingertips, you just need to learn how to capture that wisdom and pass it on to your employees. Approximately 10,000 people retire every day, carrying with them years of accumulated wisdom, knowledge and experience from the organizations they helped build. Unfortunately, many leaders reject programs involving knowledge and wisdom discovery because some programs have fallen flat in execution. Leaders need a program that will not only help to pass on the knowledge of the soon-to-retire types and top performers, but also a program that will encourage everyone in the organization to adopt those same attitudes and behaviors. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers: The Story of Success, makes a reference to the 10,000 hours it takes to become a top performer. The experience and wisdom of these top performers is very useful because they can find solutions to issues much faster than people with less experience. Top performers are driven by a higher purpose, they have a different way of organizing their thoughts, attitudes and behaviors, all of which help them to excel at their job. Clearly, it is important to find a program that works to capture and pass along years of wisdom and knowledge, but what is the best way to do so? The first step is to identify the top performers in your organization. Look for the ones who are highly respected for their knowledge and wisdom in your organizations’ targeted subject area. It could be a soon-to-retire type or simply someone who stands out from the rest. Next ask yourself “who has the best practices?” Would you go to that person for help? If the answer is yes then that is your go-to person or persons. Now you need to unlock the top performers ‘unconscious competence’ – a manner of thinking in which someone performs great but is unable to explain why. To get to the unconscious competence, encourage your top performers to talk about their passions, what drives them — their higher purpose. When they are able to articulate their higher purpose in 2-3 sentences it will free them up to show others a path to greatness. In our experience true top performers love to pass on their wisdom and knowledge to their peers. Word to the weary, if this content is forced upon the organization in any way people may not embrace it. But, when expert content is presented using a fair process you will increase others’ sense of dignity and self-respect. The organization will then engage with and embrace that wisdom. It is important to note that your top performers generally organize their thinking in similar ways. They have a different idea of what their job entails, beginning with a higher purpose. They understand the value that they bring to the company, to their peers and the world. They organize their thoughts and actions into a clear set of steps and have learned to adapt those actions to optimize results as conditions change. They have the ability to detect risk and bounce back in a positive direction when things go wrong. And finally, they’re self-directed learners, always searching for new ideas that will keep them at the top. Bear in mind that not all retiring workers have the attributes of your top performers, but many have a variety of the attributes. Now that you have captured the best practices of your best people, what will you do with it? We suggest outlining the learning activities necessary for others to learn from their experiences. After these steps are taken you will discover that your employees will feel greatly enriched in their own knowledge. Your organization will have the collected wisdom and knowledge of their very best workers. And you will have created an environment in which others can embrace the knowledge and get infected with the passion of the very best. For more information on the new scientific methods for capturing, organizing and leveraging that expert wisdom check out my book The Star Factor.]]>

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