You want your team to thrive. And according to a recent study from Slack, there are a few things they need in order to do that: more transparency, more communication, and more connection. One way you can achieve all of this? Improving your knowledge management system.
Knowledge management, in a nutshell, is how you gather, store, and organize information within your company. It’s how you capture knowledge from one person or team and how you make that knowledge accessible to the rest of your organization.
For example, it could be the way your team organizes its Google Drive so that everyone can readily access the files they require to complete a project, or how you share updates in a Slack channel to make it easily searchable for other teams. If you want everyone on your team to be able to share, find, and access knowledge freely, you need to have the right knowledge management system in place to organize it all.
How to maintain your team’s knowledge management system
“Having a knowledge management system [isn’t] productive at all,” says David Chaudron, an organizational psychologist and the managing partner of consulting firm Organized Change. “Using it is.”
Clearly, putting in place a knowledge management system is a must if you want to increase efficiency and productivity in your organization. But to successfully maintain that system, you need your entire team to get on board.
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1. Keep things simple
A huge part of getting your team comfortable with knowledge management? Not overwhelming them with systems that are confusing or unnecessarily complex.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Keeping things simple will allow you to train your team quickly—and will make implementing your knowledge management systems a lot easier for everyone involved.
“Part of our ethos at RunRepeat is to not be bogged down by processes and tools that we don’t fully utilize, so we’ve designed a simple system using really only four pieces of software for most of the team: Slack, Google Drive, [Google] Hangouts, and Trello,” says Paul Ronto, the chief marketing officer of RunRepeat, an athletic-shoe review site with a remote team of 55. “Between these four, we are able to really communicate and share knowledge and information in real time with the ability to pin, tag, assign, and attach any pertinent information.”
The processes, systems, and frameworks you use to manage knowledge at your organization are up to you—but if you want to increase efficiency, simplify wherever you can (your team will thank you!).
2. Involve your team in the process
“Allow your team to have a say,” says Erin Bailey, a partner at the digital marketing agency Matrixx. “They’re the ones who will be dealing with knowledge management most, so it’s important to make sure they’re comfortable with the procedures. Plus, they may even have some better ideas.”
As Chaudron says, getting your team’s insight into what kind of knowledge management system they’d like to use is not only useful for decision-making but also reduces resistance to what’s ultimately chosen.
“Having a knowledge management system [isn’t] productive at all. Using it is.”
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3. Create an environment of knowledge sharing
It doesn’t matter what knowledge management systems you have in place—if you don’t foster an environment that promotes the free exchange of knowledge, your team may hold back (and play things close to the vest with their most valuable insights).
“In competitive work environments, employees try to outdo one another and are less likely to share what they know with others,” says Dana Case, the director of operations at document-filing company MyCorporation.com. “It’s important for organizations to adapt a knowledge culture where information is shared instead of safeguarded for professional gain or benefit.”
If you want your employees to embrace your knowledge management systems, encourage different teams and departments to work together and share what they bring to the table. Reward people for sharing ideas, and give individuals and teams the credit they deserve when they do.
“The more your employees understand one another, their varied backgrounds, and what experience they bring to the team, the better they’ll work together and share that tacit knowledge,” says Ronto. “As people begin to understand that all boats rise with a rising tide, they will be less likely to [hoard] their knowledge.”
4. Keep things consistent
For your team to embrace your knowledge management practices (and increase productivity as a result), you need to be consistent in how you share, store, and organize information.
“We utilize Office 365/OneDrive, which is where all client files are kept and organized by fiscal year and project,” says Bailey. “There is a firm structure for how files are organized and named to minimize confusion. Consistency is key, and needs to be applied across all client folders.”
5. Ask for feedback
The only way to be sure that the knowledge management system you’re using is right for your team is to ask them.
“Always ask for feedback,” says Case. “It’s important to know if your organization’s training tools or practices were effective. Do your employees understand how to use the new system? Does the training guide need to be updated?”
Feedback on your systems and processes will allow you to identify what is and isn’t working—and to continue to evolve until you have the ones in place that make the most sense for your team.
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