You spend hours finding, interviewing, onboarding, and mentoring your team members. Individually, each one of your employees brings unique expertise to the table. Collectively, your workforce possesses incredible brainpower — but you have to know how to tap it to see benefits.
What if your people operated like a big AI learning platform, where their personal mental capabilities and basic understanding combined? As new information came in, everyone’s comprehensive intelligence would increase. Your administrative assistant could answer a client call with confidence after reviewing stored conversations. An IT supervisor would be able to quickly view marketing’s latest Facebook ads. An HR member could house standard operating procedures in one place.
These aren’t pipe dreams. They’re all possible with better knowledge management solutions.
Putting Knowledge Management to Work in the Workplace
Knowledge management systems allow you to effectively and efficiently assemble and share the data, documents, and other items necessary for staffers to view key information. Not only does knowledge management help you tighten your internal connections between teammates, but it also assists in improving employee engagement by giving personnel the tools they need to succeed. And heightened engagement is a primary goal for companies that want to shine in the coming months and years.
According to recent Gallup’s global statistics, most businesses haven’t quite figured out how to promote widespread team engagement. Eighty-five percent of professionals consider themselves disengaged. Disengagement leads to halted momentum, flattened progress, squelched innovation, and general discontent. On the flip side, strong engagement among colleagues has been linked to unparalleled creativity, a strong sense of community, more sustainable corporate development, employee-employer loyalty, and organic collaboration.
Investing in a robust knowledge management system can be a practical first step toward boosting engagement and company culture. But it won’t happen without effort. Leaders must implement and back up knowledge management implementation. Otherwise, their people will be less likely to take knowledge management seriously.
If your team lacks engagement or seems to exist without a cohesive culture, consider putting knowledge management into play. You’ll cut down on frustrating delays, as well as embarrassing customer service snags, due to a lack of consolidated information. Start by following these steps to share know-how across your organization.
1. Choose the right knowledge management software for your group.
To make things easier and less expensive, look for an existing knowledge management platform to store, curate, and analyze information. This could include documents, client messages, competitor intelligence, marketing statistics, and other data. You’ll be able to cultivate a more energetic and trusting work environment faster because you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Although you might be tempted to pay nothing and put everything on a shared Google Drive, think again. After all, you have confidentiality to consider. Rather than choose an open-source forum, go for something more sophisticated and protected such as Guru, Document 360, or Inkling Knowledge. Above all, look for a product that meets your company’s needs. Undergo a few test runs before making your final decision.
2. Begin migrating all information to your knowledge management system.
Remind your team, including your executives, that the only way that you can benefit from your knowledge management system is by actually using it. If only a few people treat it as an invaluable tool, it will never have the impact you want.
Beyond training everyone on your system, set up protocols instructing people on how to use the program. For instance, move all customer contact data to your knowledge management software. Then, instruct all sales and service personnel to type notes into the knowledge management portal instead of keeping them in separate private documents. Changing everyone’s workflow will take time; be patient as the new routines become second nature.
3. Give employees access to the knowledge management they need.
In most organizations, many team members won’t need full access to your knowledge management software. In fact, a few people may need very little access to limited areas, such as budget figures, marketing strategies, or secure customer data.
Determine how much access to give each member of your staff based on each person’s need to know. If someone balks at not being able to see everything, listen to the concerns. He might make a good case for having a different access level. Even if you decide that your original access authorization will stand, you’ll show your co-workers that you care enough to hear them out. That’s a surefire way to boost engagement.
4. Train new hires to value knowledge management.
As you bring more employees into the fold, introduce them immediately to your knowledge management library. Explain why it’s essential, and provide enough training so they can fully explore and utilize the platform. Don’t assume that a new assistant or manager fully comprehends how critical knowledge management can be, even if he or she claims to have used a knowledge management portal before.
By adding knowledge management to your onboarding, you’ll ensure that everyone who joins your team will automatically rely on the knowledge management platform to make their jobs easier. Plus, your long-timers will be more apt to keep using the knowledge management when they realize you’ve prioritized it so heavily with new hires.
5. Incentivize people to cross-pollinate implicit knowledge.
Your knowledge management platform isn’t the only place where you’ll see cross-pollination of ideas, especially ideas that are intrinsic and not typically written down. Informal mentoring partnerships, impromptu cross-silo brainstorming sessions, and similar engagements are prime examples of knowledge management happening in real time and without corporate enforcement.
How can you promote this type of natural sharing? The easiest way is through unexpected rewards. For example, if co-workers solve a large issue that’s been biting at the company’s heels for months, why not give those key players a special honor or public recognition? Gift cards, a day off, or a gourmet in-house lunch will show them that their proactivity and openness are valued. As a side benefit, everyone else will take the hint that you value participation in knowledge sharing.
As the old saying goes, “Knowledge is power.” What could possibly be more empowering to your corporation than making sure everyone has access to a wealth of information? Differentiate your culture as one that prizes and fuels engagement through the distribution and analysis of your team’s collective knowledge. It will boost engagement, productivity, and your bottom line.