This week's questions come from federal managers at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Please continue sharing your ideas and questions by leaving a comment or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are some of the best knowledge-management practices from across the field? With so many federal employees eligible to retire now--or in the near future--what are the sure ways to capture their written and unwritten knowledge? The knowledge gap could be vast. -Federal manager (GS-15), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Even though knowledge management may sound like jargon or "consultant speak," it is an essential tool successful organizations use to transfer formal and informal knowledge from experienced to newer employees.
Effective knowledge management requires an agency-wide commitment to identifying, collecting, organizing and sharing experienced employees' knowledge and skills. The trick is identifying the formal and informal knowledge the people in your agency use to get things done. To start, ask employees to memorialize in writing what they do and how they accomplish it--for example, who they work with.
Many successful organizations develop an open, transparent system for organizing and sharing this information with their employees. You might consider using SharePoint as a means for storing and sharing information, organizing a brown bag series with agency executives or having younger employees shadow experienced employees.
You're right to be concerned about knowledge management, and this advice should help you and your agency get started.
How can federal leaders encourage high-quality, ambitious staff to join the federal government? -Federal manager (GS-15), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
It's a tough climate to be recruiting new talent to government, but it's imperative that agencies continue to reach out.
Here are some ideas for encouraging new, high-performing and ambitious federal employees:
• Keep up the outreach. The agencies that experience the greatest success recruiting and hiring new employees are the ones that regularly visit college campuses, attend meetings of professional associations and other recruiting events. Even if your agency is not immediately hiring, it is important for you to maintain a presence so our government continues to be seem as an employer of choice.
• Use peers and near-peers to make the pitch. While it's great to have an agency executive recruiting for new employees, it's often even more effective to send those closest in age to the job seekers. If you're recruiting for recent college graduates, consider having your youngest employees attend the networking event.
• Talk about making a difference, not making a dollar. When interacting with job seekers, talk about the privilege of serving your country and having an impact. Young job seekers are particularly interested in joining mission-driven organizations. More often than not this can mean a nonprofit organization, but you can expand their perceptions to include government service.
• Encourage a test drive. Experience is the best teacher. Consider recruiting student interns to your agency. This will help you not only receive some much-needed assistance but also develop a pipeline of talent that will pay dividends whenever you're ready to hire.
Good luck keeping others in your agency as focused as you are on recruiting great talent into public service!