So You Want to Hire a Knowledge Manager
You don’t mean to brag, but your workplace is pretty on track to having a bonafide knowledge-driven culture. You have the tools, you have the enthusiasm, and you even have some employees that love adding to your knowledge base. There’s only one thing you’re missing: a verified knowledge manager.
We know what you’re thinking. “Everyone loves Guru/ your knowledge management software of choice (which is probably Guru)! It seems like plenty of teams are already using it, do we really need to bring on a knowledge manager?”
We’re going to answer that question with an enthusiastic yes! Knowledge managers can do a lot more than keep your cards and knowledge base in order. In fact, hiring one can have a lot of surprising benefits.
Improve access to information and knowledge
We know that plenty of employees are already using your knowledge-sharing software, but a knowledge manager can truly help bring your knowledge-sharing game to the next level.Your teams have done a pretty good job of finding their own way to share knowledge within your established system, but a knowledge manager can help make things even more accessible and shareable. They’re experts at organizing and distributing important information, and they know how to turn a “pretty good” system into a “truly awesome” one.
It’s also important to know that knowledge management isn’t just limited to producing content to share. A true knowledge manager can help facilitate other kinds of knowledge sharing and mentor others on the right way to spread information.
Not sure what we mean? We’ll let Aprill Allen of Knowledge Bird explain:
I think of knowledge management as an overarching capability with the knowledge manager as coach and facilitator, nudging teams and individuals towards improving their knowledge-sharing practices.
They do that by enabling more streamlined information flow between tools, but also by creating the conditions for knowledge to flow between people. Those conditions could be informal opportunities to gather as well as formal structures like peer learning and mentoring.
Streamline the decision-making process
What’s the best way to format cards that outline the sales process? How do we change the title and tagging system to make it easier for people to find information?
Your workplace has no shortage of good ideas. The problem comes with deciding which good idea gets pursued. Sometimes the easiest way to get things done is just to have someone say “yes” or “no.”
The beauty of having a knowledge manager is two-fold in this space. You get someone that can be the official “decider,” and you have someone with the expertise needed to make those decisions. Instead of scheduling endless planning meetings and getting dozens of opinions, now you have one person you can lean on to make informed decisions.
Promote organization innovation and change
Is there a company that doesn’t want to be more innovative? Everyone wants to say their company made the next “big” thing in their industry. Knowledge management is a crucial stepping stone to innovation, and the right person can help you reach your goals.
Imagine inventing the "Pancake Tuesday" of your industry
Remember, knowledge management is more than just collecting and organizing important information. It also helps encourage the sharing of ideas and collaboration between employees and teams. When you hire a knowledge manager, you’re hiring someone that can help foster innovation. Your knowledge manager can help facilitate discussions, organize important knowledge, and help foster collaboration between teams.
Improve efficiency across departments
You’d be surprised how much more efficient things can be when everyone has the information they need to work. Then, all of a sudden, it takes much less time to do essential tasks because everything you need is readily available.
Consider what your teams could really do if they had enough time and bandwidth to work on different things. New projects can get underway, brainstorming sessions become the norm, and everyone is working in lockstep because the office is so much more organized and efficient!
How to set your knowledge manager up for success
We’re going to assume that you’re officially sold on bringing in a knowledge manager, so let’s talk about how you can set them up for true success. Workplaces that want their knowledge manager to succeed will going to need to do a little work to put them in the best environment possible. If you’re serious about bringing on a knowledge manager, here’s what you need to do.
Determine your ultimate goals
Giving everyone actionable goals is essential for workplace success, and your soon-to-be knowledge manager is no different. Stepping into this role at organizations that are new to understanding the value of knowledge management can feel a bit like boiling the ocean. So before you bring them on, think about what you want your knowledge manager to accomplish.
Imagine how satisfying checking off those boxes will feel
Many of the stellar results you see from your knowledge manager can be challenging to quantify in terms of hard business results. So instead of thinking about things in terms of revenue and sales goals, think about how they can improve structuring and sharing knowledge.
Make it a goal to have subject matter experts identified and fully integrated into your knowledge management system within six months of bringing your knowledge manager on. Task your knowledge manager with proposing a new content structure for cards by their 90-day review. Regardless of what you come up with, make sure you’re giving them attainable and actionable goals to meet.
Understand what they can and can’t do
Your knowledge worker can do a lot to help collect, organize, and distribute vital information among your staff. They can be seen as expert communicators, information architects, and masters of organization and distribution.
Knowledge managers can be a lot of things, but unfortunately, they aren’t miracle workers.
We don't recommend stress eating post-its (no matter how delicious they are)
Remember, knowledge management is everyone’s responsibility at work, but it’s the knowledge manager’s role to make sure everyone can fulfill that responsibility. They can help with the basic tenants of keeping knowledge organized and distributed. However, for that to work, managers and other employees need to be willing to contribute the building blocks of that information.
It’s entirely possible that, in order for that to happen, you may need to make some changes to your organization. But don’t worry, we’ll get into that in a bit.
Talk to team members about their knowledge management needs
What do your teams want to see from the knowledge manager? For example, HR may want to revamp the collections’ content hierarchy, and sales may want a better way to organize their prospects. Regardless of what they want, the only way to know is to ask.
Like we said earlier, we want to avoid having your new knowledge manager feel like they’re boiling the ocean, so prioritization is key. Think about the most effective changes a knowledge manager can make by asking the team the right questions.
What would make the day easier for your support agents? Is there anything you can do internally to improve the customer experience? What would help the engineering team ship code faster? When you focus on things that can make the most impact, it’s easier to get your knowledge manager started off on the right foot.
Create a welcoming environment
It’s going to be hard to contribute to your company’s knowledge base when you’re overbooked for the week and get side-eye from your manager when they see you’re not on project work. A lot of the time, switching to a more knowledge-driven workplace involves more cultural changes than anything else. If you really want to set your knowledge manager up for success, make it easier for everyone to work together.
Set the expectation with managers and team members that knowledge management isn’t an optional activity. For it to work effectively, everyone needs to take the time and effort to contribute.
Horror movie rules apply to work scenarios more than you'd think
Give everyone the time they need to create and organize knowledge. You don’t need to set aside hours each day to encourage people to add to and improve your knowledge base. Just giving everyone 15-30 minutes to make changes and add new information can be more than enough.
Want to truly make your knowledge manager’s day easier? Help them identify your knowledge champions on different subjects and teams. They’ll play an integral role in helping your knowledge manager and building out your knowledge base.
Set them up with the right technology
Your knowledge manager is going to have a lot of legacy knowledge to have to sort through. Make things easier for them by letting them know about all of the different areas in which knowledge currently exists at your company. Get managers from different teams involved to make sure that you leave no stone unturned.
Knowing where your knowledge exists can make finding the right tools and integrations easier. Once you know that, you could start using a genuinely great knowledge base.