By Christopher S. Weiser
Senior Director Offer Management & Development
Sodexo, North America
I’ll begin by overstating the obvious: the world is changing around us at an exponential pace. Information moves at the speed of light and often, becomes outdated by the time it is fully socialized. We are 100 percent plugged in 100 percent of the time and we’ve developed the ability to pay “constant partial attention” to many things at once. But despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, sometimes we fail to focus on the simple act of effective knowledge transfer.
This can be especially true in large organizations where it is critical to pass along what we know and how we know it, to those who need to know, when they need to know it. Let’s face it—here are some things that just aren’t written in a book anywhere.
“Don’t create a communication plan; we should create a constant conscious thought process.”
Now let’s complicate things a bit further by adding that for the first time ever, not only do we have four generations co-existing in the workplace, but the work/life habits, communication styles, and attitudes of these generations continue to evolve on a daily basis. New team members are bringing new ideas and valuable lessons are in danger of departing with veteran leaders. Capturing both of these bodies of knowledge is critical to long-term success. So what’s an organization to do?
Consider this: picture an Olympic relay race. It’s a thing of beauty. The ease with which the baton is passed despite both runners being in fluid motion can be almost breathtaking. I believe there is a lesson to be learned within that exchange. The simple truths you can only master the hand-off with practice, and that means practicing with your teammates. You can train alone for speed and for stamina, but you can’t train alone to pass the baton.
In organizational terms, we have to create frequent opportunities to “practice” knowledge transfer. These opportunities can manifest themselves in a number of ways including traditional or reverse mentoring, mentoring circles, and employee network/resource groups. The point is, just as a sprinter has an unwavering training regiment, we have to display the same rigorous discipline in establishing and nurturing these chances to interact and grow.
We won’t get there by accident. It must be intentional. This also holds true for communication. With so many ways to communicate today, before we decide how to initiate a conversation or deliver a message, we have to ask ourselves who is on the other end of the exchange. Don’t create a communication plan; we should create a constant conscious thought process. It won’t happen overnight, but then neither does Olympic gold. Ready. Set. Go.
Chris Weiser began his career at the age of fifteen and worked through the ranks of the kitchen from dishwasher to Executive Chef. He has been with Sodexo for over 20 years in various positions including operations, marketing, and strategy, and offer development. As a passionate supporter of diversity and inclusion, Chris is an active member in each of Sodexo’s employee network groups. He currently serves as the National Chair of Sodexo’s intergenerational network group (i-Gen). He is a three time regional “Spirit of Sodexo” award nominee and a past winner of a Sodexo “Innovation” award. Chris is highly engaged in a wide range of community empowerment activities including his current service as Vice-Chair of the Advisory Board for the Atlanta Community Food Bank.