Ways to retain employee knowledge before it walks out the door

One of the greatest challenges facing employers is how to retain all of that expertise when employees leave.

We’ve all been witness to that person or group of people who, regardless of the situation, are suddenly no longer a part of the organization.

Whether the exodus is ultimately deemed positive or negative for the organization, the fact is employees take with them a substantial amount of work, business customers/clients, and operational knowledge that can be difficult to replace or duplicate.

Let’s look at a few ways of retaining corporate/organizational knowledge when an employee decides to move on to another opportunity.

1. Document processes and procedures

From the very beginning, an employee should have a clear and concise job description that is familiar to both their manager and human resources. The job description and corporate procedures should make clear the role and responsibilities associated with the position, and those responsibilities should be understood among all parties.

This ensures a good starting point for the employee. Moving forward, regular assessments, manager appraisals and yearly performance indicators can only help the employee in terms of capturing knowledge. Further, a matrix of responsibilities can successfully encompass all of the varying degrees to which a person must perform their specific job.

One of the ways that employees can document their specific job-related duties is to write training documents. This will help both the potential successor and the rest of the team in understanding the role and overall duties.

A binder is a basic way of capturing all of the day-to-day requirements in performing a job successfully. While a good start, my guess is that more often than not these documents would remain in that binder sitting on a shelf somewhere.

A somewhat more progressive tactic would be for the employee to create a “day in the life” video of the specific job. This would show a successor exactly what is expected of them during a typical day on the job. The video should be made soon after the employee has been there long enough to have full knowledge of the job.

An employee who is ready to leave may not remember everything he has done in the job. Also, a disgruntled employee could refuse or sabotage this type of undertaking.

2. Cross-train your team members

Employees get sick, go on vacation or leave for other opportunities. Does this mean that the department or company ceases to produce? Of course not.

Ensuring that members of the team can step into another role at any given time is critical to preventing gaps in knowledge. When implementing a cross-training period, it’s important to provide plenty of time for people to train effectively. It’s during this time that everyone on the team will be learning their team member’s roles and overall picture and be able to step in and properly perform the job.

One of the most effective ways to accomplish this task is to have people shadow each other. This ensures the person accepting the knowledge is just as knowledgeable as the one passing it on. It’s also just as important to hold people accountable, and the best way to do this is to test employees while a key member of the team is away.

If the employee is able to successfully perform the co-worker’s duties without any input from the absent person, then you have success. Team members should also be encouraged to provide feedback so that efforts may continuously be improved. An incentive for this program could also be a promotion for the employee stepping into a departing person’s position.

3. Create a mentor program

Because the informal knowledge transfer in a one-on-one affiliation can be so palpable, it is important to have a mentor program. Mentoring is an effective way to organize, create, capture, and distribute knowledge. This mutually beneficial relationship provides a baseline of knowledge for the company/mentor while simultaneously fueling succession planning for the mentee.

Since the learning curve with a program of this nature can be dramatically shortened, it can be considered a win/win for companies looking to retain knowledge with the least amount of distraction.

Implementing the above documentation methods, combined with a robust cross-training and mentor program, is a good start in retaining employee corporate knowledge. This should, at the same time, be accompanied by a repository of documents accessible to all authorized parties to add additional information.

However, only an administrator should be able to make any information changes deemed acceptable. An online database – that can be accessed anytime, anywhere – is even more desirable and powerful than hardcopies which contain employee documents and procedures. This can only help employees do a better job in their roles and in training new employees to pick up from where the departed employee left off.

 

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Fun ideas that keep kids learning even after school’s out

For some people, summer means warmer weather and outdoor activities. But what about the kids that are out of school? What will they do all summer? For most parents, they just want their kids to do something other than video games or watching endless videos.

So for you, I’m going to give a few suggestions for summer activities—some of my favorites. These are just suggestions, this is not a to-do list. Really, it is going to depend on the child to find something they truly find interesting and exciting (that’s when the fun really starts).

Learning to Code

So, you like video games? Do you know that actual humans make video games with some type of computer code? It’s true. But even better, kids can write programs too. It might seem scary to get started, but it’s really not too bad. If you want to get started, I am going to recommend code.org. There are plenty of learning guides that are appropriate for a variety of ages. Oh, and it’s free and online.

Even the lowest level activities are very complete—they even include ideas about functions and debugging. It’s the best way to get a general idea of computer programming before moving on to a particular language.

If you want to be more creative with your programming, there is also Scratch (scratch.mit.edu). Scratch is a graphical (and free) programming language that focuses on the control of animated sprites. It’s pretty easy to pick up and it’s built so that you can share programs and modify others.

Finally, there is one more set of coding activities—physical programming. Physical programming takes some type of code but adds onto it some actual object that the code can control. If that sounds awesome, it’s only because it is. There are two physical programming platforms that I have worked with before—Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Although these devices are not free, they aren’t super expensive either. Both platforms have tons of great projects that kids (or adults) can work on. Example: https://projects.raspberrypi.org/en/and https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub.

What About Science?

There are plenty of great science projects that kids can work on during the summer. The key to a successful project is to find something interesting. That means you are just going to have to look through lots of ideas (and even try a few) before you find something that draws your attention. Let me give you a few ideas.

  • Bird watching. Birds are all over the place—in fact you can probably see them in your back yard. Keeping track of the birds you see and identifying new birds can be a great adventure. Here is a nice site to help you get started.
  • Grow something. Again, if you have a backyard you can probably grow some type of plant. Really, it doesn’t matter what kind of plant—just something that a kid can work on. If you like, you can try multiple plants and changing the amount of water or sunlight and see what produces the most growth.
  • Tracking the sun. The sun probably doesn’t pass directly overhead at anytime during the day for your location—but how high does it get? You can track the motion of the sun by observing the shadow a vertical stick in the ground makes. If this measurement is repeated for a long enough time you should be able to notice some interesting things.

Make Stuff

This is my favorite thing—to make something. All too often kids become consumers instead of creators. Here is your chance to change that. There are bunch of things to make. These are just a few ideas to get you started.

  • Something made out of cardboard. Cardboard is everywhere and easy to work with. You can build anything from a candy dispenser to costumes. There are plenty of tutorials online—just search for what you want.
  • Hack together something like MacGyver. I’m currently a technical consultant for the CBS show MacGyver, and one of the things I do is to make short video tutorials on how to build things similar to the stuff you see on the show. You can see some of my tutorials here.
  • Stop motion animation. There are plenty of apps on your phone that will allow you to make a stop motion movie. It just takes time and some small toys that you can move to different positions.
  • Sewing. Again, you can sew things at many different levels. It’s not too difficult to make a quick stuffed animal, but maybe you are even more advanced. Sewing is not only fun, but you can make some useful stuff. Maybe this guide will help you get started.

Be Bored

In the end, remember that being bored is not really a bad thing. Boredom is just the start of an adventure. The act of trying to not be bored is the human spirit of innovation. Let the kids be bored, and see what happens. Hopefully they won’t break something.

 

Gmail 2018 update: All the new features and how to get them now

The update, which is primarily for the web version of Google’s email service, brings new security and artificial intelligence features. Here’s everything that’s new, and if you want to start playing with the update now, we’ve also included instructions on how to get it straightaway.

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Gmail has been totally revamped with a new look. Everything from the left sidebar to the compose button is different. There’s even a new bar on the right for add-ons (which we’ll get to in a bit). But most importantly, with the new Gmail, you can see and click attachments in your inbox without having to open a thread.

You can also hover over messages to RSVP to an invite or archive an email thread or snooze an email. As for that last feature, Google said Gmail’s built-in Snooze feature can save users upwards of 100 million opens per month. It essentially reduced the need to repeatedly open the same emails in your inbox.

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Confidential mode lets you create expiration dates for emails and revoke previously sent messages. You can further add two-factor authentication if you want to ensure only the intended recipient accesses the email.

Google’s also rolled out new controls that let you limit what an emailrecipient can do with your message . These controls, called Information Rights Management, let you remove the option to forward, copy, download, or print email messages. This, again, reduces the risk of confidential information being shared with the wrong people.

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Gmail has begun to leverage Google’s AI technology. For instance, with a Nudging feature, Gmail can proactively remind you to follow up or respond to messages. And with Smart Reply, first introduced last year to the Gmail mobile apps, you can quickly respond to emails using auto-suggested responses that Gmail will serve up on the web.

You’ll also see high-priority notifications (available both in the Gmail web app and mobile apps). These notify you when you get important emails. But Google said the goal is to cut down on interruptions.

Lastly, Gmail can now smartly recommend when to unsubscribe from mailing lists. These suggestions are based on how many emails you get from a sender and whether you actually read those emails.

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Google has integrated Gmail with other G Suite apps. So, for instance, you can quickly reference, create, or edit Calendar invites or write notes in Keep — all from a new side panel in your inbox, which makes it easier to access Gmail add-ons, like third-party business apps you might use. You’ll start to see the new side panel in other G Suite apps, too.

From the side bar, you can also manage to-dos in Tasks, a new mobile app now available from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store for free. You can use Tasks to create tasks and subtasks or add due dates with notifications. You can also drag and drop an email into Tasks to create a to-do, and then your due dates will appear in your Calendar.

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Gmail finally offers native offline capabilities.

You’re able to search, write, respond, delete, or archive up to 90 days of email, just as you would while working online.

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Google has announced what it calls Business Email Compromise (BEC) threats – or when someone tries to impersonate a an executive in your business to obtain confidential information. Google introduced phishing protections to prevent these threats, and said Gmail can block 99.9 per cent of BEC attempts by warning users or moving messages to spam.

As part of this change, Google has redesigned Gmail’s security warnings. They should now appear bigger and bolder, give a clear call to action, and better inform you when potentially risky email arrives in your inbox.

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It’s now rolling out to users around the globe. You’ll start to see offline support, Confidential mode, Nudging, high-priority notifications, and unsubscribe suggestions appear in the coming weeks. If the update is available for you now, you may not see all the new features right away. Some, like Confidentiality mode, have a staggered release.

Go to your Gmail account on the web, then click the gear icon in the top right corner, and if the update is available on your account, you will see an option to “Try the new Gmail” at the top of the drop-down menu.

Ask your system admin to enable the new Gmail on your G Suite account at work or school. Administrators can do this as part of their Early Adopter Program. They just need to go to the Admin Console and allow users to access the new Gmail. After they’ve turned this on, individual accounts will receive the “Try the new Gmail” option under Settings.

If you hate the new Gmail, you can revert the changes (for now). Just go back to the Settings cog and then select the option to revert to Classic Gmail. Once done, refresh your browser. That’s it!

Want to organize your #brain, Try the Brain mind mapping software

What if you were able to put your entire brain into one computer program? Every thought, work-related or personal, with links to Web pages or files on your computer, and any additional notes you’d care to make. And what if you could then link those thoughts together, weaving them into free and complex associative patterns, much like an actual train of thought going through your head? That’s what TheBrain ($249, 30-day free trial) tries to let you do.

downloadAt its core, TheBrain 8.0 is a powerful and flexible mind-mapping program. If you’re looking to create a simple mind map for just one project, you could always go with a minimalistic free app like Blumind, or even with mind-mapper favorite Freemind. But if you’d like to create a vast mind map which covers a lot of ground, TheBrain might just be what you need (and its free version retains lots of functionality).

The first thing you see when creating a new brain is just a single “thought” against a background called “the Plex.” In TheBrain, a thought is just a name for a node in your mind map–much like an “idea” in online mind-mapper MindMeister. Each thought can have multiple siblings, multiple children (sub-thoughts), and even multiple parents. That last one is not an obvious feature, and allows for creating very complex layouts. For example, in a film-related mind map, you could have actor Keanu Reeves both under “male heroes” and under “Matrix cast.”

The Plex itself hasn’t changed much since I first used TheBrain (when it was still called PersonalBrain), about five years ago. It is still visually impressive and fun to use. As you click a thought you’d like to focus on, it smoothly floats over to the center of the Plex, and the other thoughts get rearranged (or shown or hide), all with slick, futuristic animations.

One major visual change for TheBrain 8 is that links between thoughts are now curved, rather than simple straight lines. That sounds minor, but when you’re working on a huge mind map, it does make a visual impact.

Speaking of links, TheBrain’s links pack quite a bit of functionality in themselves. Links can have directionality (e.g, “Films” leads to “Matrix”), and they can even have text. This is very useful for making links into specific verbs, so the link from Keanu Reeves to The Matrix could say “acted in,” whereas the link from Mr. Reeves to Henry’s Crime could say “acted and produced.” You can also style links with colors and line thicknesses, and create “link types” so you don’t have to define the same link properties over and over again.

TheBrain is Java-based, which, to me, is a bit of a drawback. Like other large Java applications (JDownloader and jEdit come to mind) it feels a bit heavy sometimes. For example, the center of the Plex rotates, but this particular animation stuttered throughout my use of the application, even when TheBrain was idle (other animations were smooth). TheBrain took up around 220MB of RAM on my system, or about one third of what Chrome takes with eleven open tabs on the same system. Not a tiny footprint, but reasonable for such a large application.

TheBrain also offers an online synchronization service called WebBrain, which lets you seamlessly sync a local Brain with its online version, and thus, synchronize Brains you’re using on more than one system (such as your desktop and a laptop).

It is definitely an application that takes some getting used to, but for visual thinkers, TheBrain can make a big difference in productivity and organization.

Talking mind mapping tools

Mind mapping is the perfect concept for knowledge management because you can display large amounts of explicit information in a simple to follow diagram. This allows employees to conceptualize the policies, procedures and business units within an organization.

A mind map is basically a diagram that connects information around a central subject. I like to think of it like a tree, although it has more of a radial structure. In any case, at the center is your main idea, say, poetry, and the branches are subtopics or related ideas, such as types of poetry, famous poets, and poetry publications. Greater levels of detail branch out from there and branches can be linked together.

Mind maps can be used for pretty much any thinking or learning task, from studying a subject (such as a new language) to planning your career or even building better habits. As part of my daily routine, I use mind maps to help me visualize ideas and bring them to life. Here i have worked with many tools/software to come up with mind maps and also visualize ideas. In a series of articles i will be sharing with you some of my most used mind tools that i use in my daily routine.

DON’T MISS, Also share your thoughts, comments etc

7 Google Keep Tips for Your Phone

Google Keep is a FREE app that will help you organize your life.

In this article we will show you 7 tips that you can do on your phone to get more out of Google Keep. Google Keep connects across all your devices. Check out the list of tips that will be covered.

  • Collaborate and Share with Google Keep
  • Set reminders by time or place with Google Keep
  • Dictate Notes in Google Keep
  • Extract text from an image in Google Keep
  • Doodle in Google Keep
  • Use Google Keep as a bookmark tool
  • Export to Docs in Google Keep

Collaborate and share with Google Keep

Google Keep’s latest update now allows users to share their notes and collaborate on those. You can now, for example, share groceries lists with your family and meeting notes with your colleagues. And as with other Google Drive apps, you can collaborate within Google Keep in real-time, making sharing notes with others a much better experience.Collaborating within notes has also never been easier. Everyone with access to any given note can edit it, and others will see the changes in real-time.

Set reminders by time or place

Google Keep can now enable you create reminders based on time and location. It can even remind you of an important event (or something you need to do) when you arrive at a particular location. The only caveat to Keep’s reminders is that their creation isn’t exactly obvious. If you open Keep, you won’t find a reminder button to tap, nor can you speak that magical phrase “Okay Google Now.” However, Google Keep’s reminders can be easily created .Say, for example, the next time you’re shopping at that massive warehouse store, you need to pick up supplies for your home and your office. You could create a shopping list (for both even), and then attach a location-based reminder so you don’t forget to pick up the items.

Dictate Notes in Google Keep

Google Keep has a voice memo feature, which you can access in two ways:

  • The microphone icon in the notes list.
  • The microphone icon in the widget.

Once activated, you can just speak and Google will convert what you say into text. It’ll create a new note with the text content and an audio recording of what you said. Feel free to keep either or both.

Google Keep also integrates nicely with Google Now, allowing you to add items to list notes just by activating it using an OK Google command:

Extract text from an image in Google Keep

Wanna transcribe your short notice but your lazy to type, Well Google keep now has a feature that can scan handwritten text and convert it into digital text.

  • Use your device’s camera to capture an image of text.
  • Add the image to a note, then tap on the image.
  • Open the overflow menu and select Grab image text.
  • Give it a minute or so and the text will show up in the note.

The OCR engine needs an internet connection to do its magic, but it works quite well.

Doodle in Google Keep

You can now do quick doodles in the mobile version of Google Keep. These doodles can then be imported into Google Docs or edited (but only on the mobile version).

Use Google Keep as a bookmark tool

Even though you are using a mobile device rather than a website, you can still bookmark web pages or portions of a web page as long as you have the Google Keep app installed. From any Chrome mobile browser window on the mobile device tap on the Menu (three vertical dots in the top right of the screen).

Export to Docs in Google Keep

With the Google Keep Copy feature, you can move any note to Google Docs and start working on it there, instead of using the tiny note interface. All you have to do is open any note in Google Keep, either from the Web or the app. Then, click or the overflow menu (three dots) and choose Copy to Google Doc

 

Should I adopt Google Keep?

In my series on working with tools in development, i felt it important to share this awesome tool that i have been using for a while. The tool none other than  Google Keep is the perfect tool for #productivity and daily organisational management out there. I have been using for a while now and it has kept me organised in my daily project work. Simply, Google Keep is a syncing notepad that connects to Google Drive. It also supports photo notes, voice notes, and checklists.  It’s ideal for quick note-taking on the go, anyone who appreciates simple, fast note-taking tools or to-do apps, or for saving notes on the desktop that you know you’ll need on your Android phone, like shopping lists, addresses, phone numbers, checklists and to-do lists, or conference call codes. Keep even supports Google Apps accounts, so you can use it with your own domain or a business account.

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The interface is colorful and easy to use. Those colors are actually organization tools that make it easy to tell your personal notes apart from your work-related ones, or your family-related ones, and so on.

Lets take a look at what keep can do;

1. Transcribe Text from Images

Keep has the ability to transcribe text from photographs. (As you see above, depending on the image, results can vary.) Just upload an image and then click the three dots in the menu below. This will prompt a pop-up menu. Select “Grab image text” and it will do its best to transcribe the words it finds (or thinks it finds) into searchable, editable text.

This little trick comes into handy if you want to easily access information on a business card, come across a sign that interests you, or want to revisit just about any print you’ve come across in your travels. Unfortunately, Keep’s tech doesn’t play so nicely with handwriting (at least not mine). Which is annoying considering Google has added handwriting recognition to a number of its other apps.

2. Keep Is Your Own Personal Stenographer

Ever have an absolutely brilliant idea while you’re on the move, but not have time to fiddle diddle with some touch-screen keyboard? Then, when you finally have a moment, you find that the brilliant idea was gone? Poof! Well, with Keep, you can just record a note into your device and it will be transcribed (fairly accurately in my experience) into a searchable, editable note.

Please note that Keep records audio as 3GPP files, which will probably work just fine on your mobile phone, but may not play on your older computer or laptop.

3. Set Reminders 

You can create a pop-up reminder in Keep, and it will show up elsewhere in your Google ecosystem (in your browser where Keep is open, in Google Now, or on your phone). Just click the icon resembling a finger with a string on it at the bottom of any post. Once you click that, you will prompt a pop-up menu that will allow you to set a reminder that can go off at a certain date/time or when you reach a certain location. You will then get notification in your browser or on your phone.

4. Easily Copy to Google Docs

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Since it’s part of the greater Google ecosystem, it would make sense that you could easily transfer a note in Keep into Google Docs. Just click the three dots at the bottom of a note and choose “Copy to Google Doc.” Then boom, it’s magically transformed into a Google Doc, which you’ll find conveniently in Google Drive.

5. Share and Collaborate With Others

Google Keep Share

Click the icon with the little plus sign next to a person and then you will share your note with someone else’s Keep. Then any changes one person makes will be reflected among all the people it is shared with. The original owner will have the ability to delete other users at any time. Maybe if I can actually convince others to use Keep, I’ll actually be able to use this function one day.

6. Filter Search

Google Keep Search
You might spend so much time searching creating and maintaining your notes that you might get overwhelmed by all the notes you’ve accumulated. Up at the top of the screen, there’s a handy search that allows you to find all the instances of a certain word or phrase. You can even filter further for notes that have been labeled a certain color, ones that have reminders, ones that have audio in them, etc. No knowledge will ever fall out of your brain ever again.