Best practice: how Lothar Sevenich and Heiko Stötzel are securing the future down the generations
“So that knowledge and experience don’t retire” – with this slogan Personnel Development is consciously supporting managerial staff in the transfer of knowledge between people leaving the company when they reach the age of retirement and their successors.
Thanks to the Transferwerk program, a method of knowledge transfer practiced by Salzgitter AG, we are able to permanently keep the valuable expertise of our future pensioners within the company. KHS’ Personnel Development Department takes on the role of consultant and facilitator here. The first step is to process and document the knowledge harbored by the employee soon to leave the company. In the second step this documented knowledge is gradually transferred to that person’s successor. We would like to demonstrate just how this initially rather abstract process works through the example of our employees Lothar Sevenich and Heiko Stötzel.
Creating conditions for the transfer of knowledge in good time
Lothar Sevenich has worked for KHS since 1989 and been head of the Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Management Department for 21 years. On September 30, 2019, the 65-year-old will start his well-earned retirement. Heiko Stötzel, 42 years of age, is to succeed Lothar Sevenich in his post. He has been his deputy since 2016. “The knowledge transfer process began with preliminary talks, in which we were familiarized with the overall procedure and agreed on specific terms,” reports Heiko Stötzel. “During the above it became clear that through our many years of working together in occupational health and safety we’d already created excellent conditions for the transfer of knowledge.”
Implicit knowledge must also be made accessible
“At the next stage in the process a facilitator from Personnel Development presented a knowledge structure chart with the help of what’s known as a job map,” Lothar Sevenich explains. “In it important experiences and implicit knowledge from my day-to-day-work of the last 15 years were logged in a mind map and documented in detail with the help of specific questions and suggestions. I wouldn’t have thought that so many topics had to be transferred!” Heiko Stötzel emphasizes, “The job map is extremely practical and valuable to me. Right from the start it’s given me a good, additional overview of my future field of work plus a number of useful tips – for instance, all of the relevant contacts at KHS both in house and externally.”
Everything is important – from content through transfer method to schedule
On the basis of the job map a detailed transfer plan is drawn up for all identified areas of knowledge which contains everything crucial to the further transfer of expertise – from a list of contents through a selection of suitable transfer methods to a fixed schedule. In the case of Lothar Sevenich and Heiko Stötzel the following fields for transferal were specified: environmental management, the company suggestions scheme, occupational health and safety, company health management and issues of leadership. Since then the two have worked continuously on their transfer plan, checking the status of their transfer of knowledge at regular intervals in mentored feedback meetings. In this way Lothar Sevenich’s expertise and experience is sustainably secured for and used and further developed by KHS in the long term.
Expertise used to continuous effect within the company
“I’m pleased that in this way my expertise continues to be available to the company,” says Lothar Sevenich. Heiko Stötzel also finds the transfer of knowledge very positive. “The transferal of knowledge gives me the good feeling that I won’t forget anything in the future and won’t find myself facing some unpleasant surprises! The extras I’ve learned from Lothar during our handover of expertise gives me a sense of security and provides me with a great basis for new ideas of my own.”