5 Communication Approaches for Successful Knowledge Transitions

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Transitions and handovers are a part and parcel of every role in organizations. Every change of guard in any position means a lot of oversight and handholding. The latter is often missed, however, due to the types of transitions, the timing, the confidentiality clauses, the work environment and the team undergoing change.

More important is how these transitions are communicated. This concern is more pressing in global organizations because of the rate of change, the amount of transitions and the limited appreciation of the value of knowledge management.

Lost in Translation 

Knowledge can be lost in translation at the time of onboarding and all through the employees’ life cycle. So, how do shared services organizations go about tactfully harnessing knowledge and yet not get in the way of seamless transitions?

Here are 5 opportunities for leaders, communicators and learning experts to consider.

1. Understand knowledge flows:

Every global shared service organization grows by transitioning work in batches and maturing over time. In the beginning, the processes may not be established and therefore a lot more effort will go towards making the transition simple and easy to do. This will mean spending long hours understanding the current state of knowledge management and documentation. It is easier to transition work from a location where systems and processes are in place.

2. Appreciate key nodes in the network:

Conducting simple network analysis can help surface knowledge ‘knots’ and bottlenecks within the organizations. Employees who are insecure about losing their jobs and roles will make attempts to hold on to knowledge; or in the worst case, sabotage attempts to transfer out knowledge.

Taking time to learn about the culture of sharing and the motivators for employees to collaborate will help organizations make the most of the time and resources invested.

3. Create trust in existing and new systems:

It may happen that the current knowledge management system is broken or needs a complete overhaul. Changing the system overnight can cause angst. If the work is transitioned to a location which is outside the country and has a vastly different culture or operating style, it can cause dissonance. To alleviate fears and bring in sensible engagement, the transition team needs to establish clear lines of communication at all levels.

Confidence building measures will need to be set-up early to establish ways of working and ownership. Sharing key messages consistently on the need for transition and the reasons for change will help bring positivity to the process.

4. Tapping platforms for exchange:

Communication plays a significant role in enabling the exchange of information, bringing people with the right expertise together and highlighting best practices and stories. Often, during transitions, communications isn’t given priority and it results in a lot of rework and missed expectations.

Having platforms for keeping teams united and working towards common goals is fruitful. Either intranets or shared drives or even off-the-shelf tools come in handy during such transitions to keep version control and content safe and secure.

5. Recognizing knowledge transfer behavior:

One of the key actions needed among employees – from the transition team and those offloading work – is the intent to share knowledge with passion. Doing the work reluctantly can result in knowledge loss and gaps, and delay how quickly the organization can get up to speed with driving efficiency and effectiveness.

Periodically, review how employees are behaving and recognize those who have gone over and above to make knowledge transfers a priority.


Knowledge transitions are a crucial part of global shared services organizations. If the transition goes wrong, it can take a lot more investment to fix issues downstream. Giving this intervention more thought and making communication a significant component of the change process can go a long way in making organizations more successful in driving change.


Aniisu K. Verghese is an award-winning employee communications and social responsibility practitioner, author, speaker and trainer with over 20 years of experience in leading multinational organizations. He is the author of Internal Communications – Insights, Practices and Models, and is passionate about engaging communicators and students through workshops, speaking engagements, teaching assignments and blogging. He has served on the International Association of Business Communicator (IABC)’s South India Chapter Board, the SABRE Awards - South Asia Jury and the IABC’s Gold Quill Asia Pacific Award panel. Aniisu is the recipient of the 2015 PR Hall of Fame Award from the Public Relations Council of India. Views expressed in this post are personal.