Good knowledge management is a huge success factor for both employees and customers. Unfortunately, it’s not something that happens spontaneously. Someone has to take the initiative to get things started and then maintain those processes once they’ve been established. The best way for a company to do this is to appoint one of their staff to the knowledge manager role. But how do you decide who is right for the job? Read on to find out.
What makes someone a good knowledge manager?
Successful knowledge managers share one essential trait. They are always highly visible. Knowledge managers are ambassadors for leveraging knowledge in the company. In this role, they must always remain approachable for their co-workers and also reach out and connect with people as needed. Knowledge managers can function as supervisors of the editors who are tasked with processing knowledge while also managing the accompanying processes.
Or they can be very hands-on and get involved in the editorial work themselves. In both cases, perseverance is a core competence for successful knowledge managers. Emotional intelligence is another essential quality. For example, when employees hoard knowledge because they think it will give them job security, it’s important to ease their fears. It’s also important to be able to interact with different personality types and make their knowledge accessible. Being well-organized is another core competency, as is the ability to distinguish between important and less important tasks and set priorities accordingly.
Keeping knowledge management as lean as possible is an art. Knowledge managers must therefore constantly ensure that only truly necessary knowledge enters the system, and that content is kept up-to-date at all times. Making sure that editors receive the appropriate training is one of the keys to achieving that goal.
And finally, knowledge managers should ideally be very resilient and have nerves of steel.
What are the core responsibilities of knowledge managers?
The core responsibilities of knowledge managers can be divided into monthly tasks and daily activities. First and foremost, regular communication among editors is essential, for instance in the form of editorial meetings. Checking quality and offering training for editors is also part of the job. It’s important to review your metrics, too. Which texts are being accessed with the highest frequency? Which search terms are used the most, and what conclusions can be drawn from those insights?
In daily operations, the knowledge manager is the contact person for all things knowledge management. If this individual is heavily involved in daily knowledge work, they will also be responsible for creating and publishing texts. In addition, all the applicable tools must be continuously populated with the right knowledge once it’s been processed. New knowledge must be gathered on a regular basis and suggestions must be processed and classified. The knowledge manager is in the driver’s seat here, with their editors right behind them.
What are the biggest challenges that knowledge managers face?
The most important thing for knowledge managers is to constantly generate awareness and promote their initiative. The perseverance we mentioned above is essential here. A good knowledge manager has to know how to give people a nudge when they need it without aggravating anyone. The best way to achieve this is to view the role of the knowledge manager as an ambassador within the company. Anyone who knows how valuable well-managed knowledge can be and appreciates the person behind it will quickly warm up to the new way of doing things. Unfortunately, that won’t apply to everyone in the beginning. A good knowledge manager has to have a hand for dealing with these types of situations tactfully.
Which steps do knowledge managers need to take to successfully establish knowledge management processes in their organizations?
The right method of implementation can make all the difference. Because if you prepare your knowledge with the proper structure right from the start, you will have to make fewer adjustments later. Knowledge managers must therefore be well-versed at creating effective structures. In most cases, they function as a link between the company and any external consultants who may have been engaged to help deploy a professional knowledge management system.
But even if things are already completely off the rails and the knowledge manager is dealing with an unruly hoard of information instead of clean and structured knowledge, it’s no cause for despair. There’s no need throw it all out and start over from scratch. In these types of situations, ensuring rock-solid project management and receiving good consultation are, however, at least as important as when you’re beginning from square one. If colleagues have already put considerable effort into documenting existing knowledge, the knowledge manager will have to be very empathetic with them during the change process.
After the rollout, the knowledge manager will also need to wear the hat of the knowledge police in addition to their role as ambassador. This role demands action when incorrect behavior is discovered, but without sacrificing accessibility — it’s important to still be a friend and ally while steering people in the right direction.
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