6 Steps to Successful Knowledge Management
As turnover rates increase at companies worldwide because of generational and marketplace changes, many businesses are finding that the key to retaining their competitive edge comes in retaining knowledge developed by employees as they move on. Traditionally, this has posed problems, as employees who are being asked to transfer their knowledge will often worry about competition for their job from lower-paid employees with less experience. The fact is, though, that effective knowledge management is necessary at every phase of a business’s development, and by developing it as a key company value, you can help employees understand how sharing their experience, training, and problem-solving strategies can lead to a more efficient company and a more collegial business environment.
Previewing the Steps
When developing a successful knowledge management strategy, the key is to building the idea of constant knowledge transfer as a core company value. This helps to ensure that employees are ready to take up new responsibilities when they are called to do so. It also smooths over transitions, such as leave or vacation times, and it helps when people are promoted, when they retire, and when they choose to move on from the company. Here are the six important stages:
1.Determine what makes your organization especially effective, and what kinds of information employees need to provide this as effectively as possible.
2.Decide where your wells of stored knowledge are. This means identifying both those capable of transmitting explicit training as well as finding those with implicit knowledge, the kind gained from on-the-job experience and problem solving.
3.Create a training and professional development program that involves both kinds of knowledge through mentorship as well as larger training events.
4.Prioritize your knowledge transfers according to risk, ensuring that you duplicate the training and experience of those employees who are most likely to turn over first. This step becomes less urgent the longer a quality knowledge management strategy is in place.
5.Remember to plan out an assessment strategy that can help you evaluate your progress and adjust to new information.
6.Implement the plan alongside its assessment and run it as an ongoing program, to keep knowledge decentralized and reduce risk to the company.
One of the core challenges to establishing the program is always employee apprehension, and it is easy to understand why that is the case. Being asked to train others to do your job is bound to make anyone a little bit nervous, even though the economy and job markets have been growing steadily in recent years. Part of establishing a successful knowledge management plan is establishing a strategy for allaying those fears as part of the actual transfer.
Steps 1-3: Pre-planning and Program Design
The first three steps outlined above are basically the planning steps. At those stages, nothing has been rolled out to employees, so you should feel free to brainstorm and to honestly assess your options and problem areas. When you get to steps 2 and 3, though, the importance of culture change begins to become important, because employees who feel as if they are at risk for dismissal are less likely to effectively mentor others, leading to less knowledge transfer and holes in your organizational knowledge when turnover does happen. One key way to allay this fear is to ensure that any employee that is transferring knowledge to others also receives some ongoing training and professional development to bring new skills and knowledge to them. This not only makes them more effective, it shows them that the company views them as a solid investment, making them more likely to see the knowledge transfer as necessary and vital. Implementing the plan with language that emphasizes these universal investments and benefits will also be important.
Steps 4-6: Execution and Evaluation
As you move forward with the program, make sure to adjust for any short-term knowledge management needs that pop up. Surprise vacations, family medical emergencies, and employee maternity leave can all have a profound effect on the individual roles that you will need to duplicate soonest, and any good plan will remain flexible enough to move with those needs while still taking into account long-term issues like generational turnover and employee promotion.
Knowledge is an important form of capital for any organization, and its loss can have profound impacts on a company’s viability and competitiveness. The loss of efficiency that comes from having to solve the same problems over and over because old solutions are lost is enough to justify strong knowledge management practices on its own. When you add in other shorter-term issues that arise from knowledge consolidation, the importance of developing an ongoing and structural solution becomes really easy to spot. To find out more about how to keep your company efficient and resilient at once, check out more resources from Mighty Recruiter.