Knowledge management's generation gap
- By John S. Monroe
- May 19, 2010
The reaction to a recent blog post by Steve Kelman highlighted one of the barriers to knowledge management: animosity between those who know and those who need to know.
Kelman reported on how the FBI has developed an innovative mentoring program for its acquisition workforce. But the topic of mentoring stirred up a lot of bad feelings among employees old and young who saw little hope in working together.
James M., who came up through the Air Force’s Copper Cap intern program, said his experience was not a good one.
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“What I have observed in my six years from some of the ‘seasoned specialists’ at the operational level is they lack initiative, creativity and drive to increase their abilities, mostly doing only what is required of them and nothing more,” he wrote. “I had to do everything short of begging to get senior specialists and contracting officers to participate in my development as an intern.”
Meanwhile, an older reader was irate that some agencies try to retain talent by promoting young acquisition workers more quickly than their experience would seem to justify.
“I have witnessed two occasions that newly graduated interns are promoted beyond the seasoned specialists,” the reader wrote. “The seasoned specialists have over 20 years of experience, were raised in the field from the ground up, but lack college so they are not promotable. And these are the people being tasked to ‘mentor’ the newbies.”
John S. Monroe is the editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week.