Managers recognise the need to inspire and energise their people to perform at their best and hit their potential. However, if all you’re doing is passing out information or topping up their knowledge with data, how can motivation or inspiration play even a small part in the communication?
Knowledge Management is a key requisite in today’s business world. Without a solid system of managing what knowledge is available to you within the company, you run the risk of losing valuable information, of people hiding behind the security screen that acts as a buffer for their insecurities in sharing information, and of people learning a great deal while with you and then taking it with them elsewhere.
Keep in mind these valuable hints for why you should have a good knowledge management system in place:
1. Quality of information and knowledge
Low quality of information in a company is a demotivator for knowledge and information Management. Finding outdated information or no information at all creates frustration and apathy
2. People are different
People are different in the way they think, feel and act. Knowledge management programmes that do not respect this internal face of individuals are not doomed to fail, but the probability of success is much, much lower.
3. Sharing knowledge
Remember that a knowledge management system is the result of sharing knowledge. It is not the sharing of knowledge in itself.
4 Communicate personal benefit
The foundation of all improvements — hence, changes — for a user is his or her personal benefit. When users do not see a direct or indirect personal benefit, they will not be inclined to contribute to change or put in the extra effort.
5. Promote re-use
Instead of sending out the message to share knowledge, management should promote the re-use of each other’s valuable information and knowledge. In practice, it is the lack of re-use (and related
respect) that limits the results of knowledge management, not the willingness to share knowledge.
6. Retrieve only relevant information
Don’t give reasons for overwhelm. Too much information will be daunting and unappreciated. Your aim should be in retrieving and delivering only that information which is relevant in the context of the moment.
7. Who is the expert among you?
Everybody and nobody. Everybody possesses knowledge, expertise and wisdom. The question and challenge is to identify, match and feed personal knowledge with the knowledge required by the
organisation in order to be successful. Nobody is an expert as long as the personal knowledge is not used and applied for the sake of organisational results.
8. Management by example
Management is an example for its team, department or organisation. So, make sure your words and actions point in the same direction. Many knowledge management initiatives fail because this obvious and simple rule was not respected.
Being the example of how you want people to be is pre-requisite in knowledge management within your company. Assess the value, build the commitment and earn the plaudits from the results.
In the past we’ve had several conversations about knowledge and how to manage the knowledge you have within your ogranization. We’ve talked about auditing information, storing information, and even making sure it gets back out to those who need it.
Today I want to talk about what I consider the four fundamental priniciples of knowledge management. They include capturing knowledge, validating knowledge, accessing knowledge, and then scaling that knowledge down. What do I mean?
The idea of capturing knowledge is pretty simple – in theory, anyway. Capturing knowledge is the process by which you determine what knowledge is available and then bring it together into some form of documentation. Knowledge that isn’t documented can’t be shared or used.
After you capture knowledge you have to validate it. Validating knowledge is about ensuring that the information you have is accurate and relevant. It won’t do you any good to have incorrect facts in your database and it’s just as bad to have completely outdated information as well.
After you capture and validate the knowledge within your organisation you have to create a way that makes it easy for everyone to access the pieces they need at any given time. They shouldn’t have to sort through an entire database. It needst to be indexed so that it can be easily found and used.
Scaling information is the process of making the information you have into something usable regardless of the geographic location of your business. If you are part of an international business, for example, your employees in New York City and Tokyo may need to access the same database. An employee in NYC can’t use one method of capturing, validating, and accessing if an employee in Tokyo is doing something different. If that happens, you’ll end up with a database of jumbled information.
How do your knowledge databases look right now. Could they use some improvement?
Now that we’re a bit more familiar with the knowledge management cycle and some of its key factors I’d like to take a few minutes today to discuss the importance of conducting a knowledge audit. A knowledge audit is the process through which you take an inventory of the actual knowledge stored within your organisation and how it is used.
The knowledge audit is incredibly important for a number of reasons. It allows you to identify some of the strengths and weaknesses associated with your organisation’s overall level of progress and method of storage. The following are six signifcant outcomes an audit will provide:
The conduction of a knowledge audit is essential to the success of your business. It is imperative that you keep your resources as up to date as possible so that your potential customers see you as a valuable source of information – and want to do business with you instead of your competition!
The fact that you and your organisation have knowledge to share or use in your day to day operations is one thing. Having a firm grasp on when and how to store that knowledge is another concept altogether. As a manager, it will be your responsibility to determine what knowledge is stored, what is destroyed, and how best to keep it safe.
There are four main factors to consider when it comes to managing knowledge. They include:
By culture we mean the culture of your organisation. Are the people who currently work for you willing to make use of the new knowledge you are sharing with them? Will it be incorporated into your day to day operations or are you trying to incorporate the information too early or too late?
The concept of the old pro refers to your organisation’s seasoned veterans. The people who have worked for you the longest may not be the most up to date when it comes to technology but they are an invaluable source of knowledge and usually know their business better than anyone else. As a manager you must know when and how to take advantage of the knowledge these people have to share.
You should be storing explicit pieces of information, things that you will need in the future, in some sort of archive. The archive can be paper or scanned into some sort of database system. You’ll be glad you have an archive the next time your team is completing a project and needs to rehash some old information.
Finally, you will be responsible for setting up a process by which knowlege is captured and stored in that archive system. The nature of your organisation and its people will have a strong influence on the method you choose to use but no matter what you do it is important to ensure that the information is properly categorized so that it can be easily accessed later on.
Consider these four factors as you prepare the knowledge management plan for your team or organisation. The better organised your efforts the more valuable your collection of information will be as you work towards progressing your business goals.
O’Dell and Grayson describe knowledge management as follows:
“A conscious strategy of getting the right knowledge to the right people at the right time and helping people share and put information into action in ways that strive to improve organisational performance.”
I believe that we often take knowledge management for granted. We know what we know and, in many cases, aren’t really acutely aware of exactly how much knowledge we do have. It’s up to you as a manager to familiarise yourself with the knowledge management cycle so that you always know where the right knowledge can be obtained in order to deal with any given situation.
The knowledge management cycle consists of four main features:
You’re in charge of the knowledge management cycle. It’s your responsibility to make sure that everyone on your team has access to the knowledge or information he or she needs to succeed.
Today I’d like you to take a step back and think about the vast amounts of knowledge you have available to you. What members of your team have specific knowledge-based assets? What members need help gaining access to additional tools? Is there anything you can do to enhance their work experiences and, in turn, the overall performance of your team?
Your success as a manager will depend in part on your mindset concerning knowledge and the way it is handled.
When happens when you obtain new knowledge? Do you keep it to yourself or share it with others?
There are four things – we’ll call them fundamentals – you need to remember about knowledge, whether it’s intellectual or in some other tangible form:
Knowledge is intangible. The words out of your mothers mouth as you were growing up were words of knowledge. The articles in the newspaper today were a result of someone’s knowledge and hard work. The memo that landed on your desk this morning contained a sampling of someone’s knowledge.
You’re now in charge of making sure that the knowledge you have and come in contact with is shared with the people who need it most. Do you have a plan for making sure that happens effectively? Think about it.
Over the course if your management career you’re going to meet a variety of different people. Each will be similar in some ways but they will also each have a different level of knowledge. Some people have areas of specialty while others are generalists. In order to manage the knowledge of those on your team, and the knowledge you will all encounter, you’ll have to keep certain essential features in mind.
First, you’ll need to have methods for capturing the most important knowledge and information your team encounters. This means sending the right person to training classes and meetings; having excellent documentation systems; and even providing quality continuing education classes.
If a team member brings a piece of information or knowledge to the table you’ll need to find ways to validate the information not only to ensure that it is accurate, but to make sure it is still relevant as well. Something that is “correct” may not necessarily be “timely.”
As a manager it is your responsibility to determine what type of information you need and when it is needed. Do you need to include certain people at different stages of a project so that they can add their skills and expertise? Do you need to send someone to a particular conference in the spring because of an upcoming project?
Finally, remember that knowledge is power but too much knowledge is useless. The internet has made accessing knowledge and information incredibly easy. It’s your job to figure out how to sort through all of the information you receive to determine how much you really need.
Handle the knowledge and information your team has to offer efficiently and you’ll find yourself in the position to do great things. Mishandle that information and you’ll find yourself swamped in a sea of confusion!