We often speak with business owners, and executives in the small to medium business space and when we ask them, if an employee leaves or better yet a key employee leaves what are you doing to identify, capture, document and share that knowledge that is walking out the door?
Often, they don’t know! This is a MAJOR concern.
They concur that when an employee leaves so does the knowledge – the knowledge the company should own rather than the former employee, but they don’t know how to avoid it.
What normally happens?
- The company is at risk of major business disruptions.
- The company faces productivity loss.
- Customer service quality can be reduced.
- Employee experience is negative due to the stressful situations that are placed on the team who now must attempt to re-create the knowledge.
What should a company do?
They must recognize the need for a knowledge management program and the discipline to make it a formal business process.
What is Knowledge Management?
Knowledge Management is the discipline of identifying, capturing and evaluating all the company’s information assets. This is done so that all members of the organization can share this knowledge in a productive manner. One key objective of a knowledge management program is to maintain use of company practices and technologies to have for future use despite turnover.
What makes a KM Program effective?
- You must record processes and inside company data in an electronic format that can be categorized and available to be shared.
- The records must be of high quality. Someone within a group/team/department should be responsible for reviewing and approving the quality of the data before it can be shared.
- Capturing data from both positive and negative experiences is valuable. Knowledge comes from experience, having been there before, having solved the problem already. KM needs to capture these experiences (i.e., recordings, project briefings) so that they can be shared, and others can learn what works and what doesn’t.
- Documenting and sharing of best practices will help to promote consistency in processes across the organization.
- Communication and collaboration tools should be used to document conversations and meetings, so they can become corporate knowledge and lead to innovation.
- Knowledge management meetings or check points should be held to ensure all team members are on point with knowledge management procedures.
Benefits to having a Knowledge Management Program
There are many benefits to a quality knowledge management program. When we see a company that has a program in place things operate more smoothly and team members are happier. Here are some specific benefits we have observed when a good knowledge is in place:
- Access to information and knowledge is easy, which improves the decision-making process, leading to faster and more effective decision making and easier collaboration.
- Innovation and change are accepted, by enabling and encouraging the sharing of ideas, collaboration and access to the latest information is readily available.
- Customer satisfaction is improved by sharing knowledge and cross-collaboration within the company. Customer facing employees can give faster answers and reduce problem resolution timeline.
- Efficiencies are increased across the organization making it easier to find accurate information and reducing the likelihood of employees to spend time recreating work that has already been done.
Knowledge alone is power. However, the real competitive advantage comes when an organization can share and retain that knowledge in an efficient way. Today’s conversations ultimately become tomorrow’s corporate knowledge.