Techniques and Tools for Knowledge Management
In this TransKerja.Com article, we want to identify all the efforts made by the company and the individuals themselves to improve current or future performance by transmitting knowledge, training attitudes and improving skills. That is why we will enunciate and describe a series of techniques and tools for knowledge management.
I approached the very booming subject of Knowledge Management in an intense way , they were times when the new economy, that is, companies based on knowledge were in full love with investors and the management of human capital was essential For the development of all these projects, some spoke that it would be another passing fad and others argued that those who generated wealth had finally been put in the place they deserved.
Today I understand that the positions are not so opposite and that all companies, both those of the new or old economy, have understood the true value of people and that is seen in the leading role and the increasing professionalization of the resource departments humans in all kinds of organizations.
In the development of this article I will expose some techniques that in isolation may not be identified as useful tools to manage and expand knowledge, but that seen together and as part of a business strategy provide great value in the management of this resource that always it has been there, even though we called it something else or downplayed its importance.
In the first place, I will rely on the ideas of James Jenks, who identifies the following tools for this purpose:
- Assessment : regular review of training needs, evaluating strengths and weaknesses.
- Development of assignments, job rotations or movements from one department to another.
- Development of projects or tasks in relation to your experience and special abilities.
- Develop and take advantage of the manager's public relations.
- Internal courses , originating from the company's training programs.
- External courses: short "canned" or pre-assembled seminars in relation to the needs of the company.
- Shadowing : On-the-job training under the supervision of a more experienced manager.
- Self-development focused on similar areas and directly applicable to work.
They are oriented towards perfecting the relationships that are established between employees, so that one of the employees, generally of a higher rank or the same, but more experienced, plays the role of advisor, behavior modeller, facilitator of contacts and support in general.
This figure of the coach, coach, is beginning to be used in some companies to assist senior managers. Nowadays it is possible to see them in the meetings of the leaders to speak and work on the knowledge acquired and the topics to be developed.
The general objective is to help leaders who need to intensify their skills or improve in a specific sector.
We can define it as: a planned development process aimed at discovering and unlocking a person or team's learning potential, in order to improve business results and personal satisfaction.
There are different categories of executive coaching :
Feedback-coaching: its duration is between one and six months, the executive receives feedback through a program that helps him to train to respond to specific needs.
Full development coaching: its duration is between six and twelve months, a more intimate and close relationship is established between the coach and the executive. A lot of information is collected from the person, interviewing different people, directors, colleagues, collaborators, and, sometimes, clients, suppliers and even family members.
After the data collection is complete, the trainer meets with the executive to analyze the results and draw up a development plan.
The coach works until the plan has been executed and it has managed to improve the objective pursued.
Task coaching: this type of coaching proposes to give executives knowledge and skills in a certain area, (marketing, finance, public presentations, etc.)
The trainers are experts in a specific discipline, and enough sessions will be gathered to ensure that the person has acquired the proper knowledge and skills in this matter.
It should be noted that executive coaching must in the rest of the strategy to develop knowledge and that this investment is not monopolized by one person.
A mentor is a figure with some experience who helps to learn , shows paths, accompanies. It is a facilitator of a process of discovery and affirmation.
It is always about two people who belong to the same organization.
Chip Bell, an expert mentoring consultant, tells us , the mentor, like his disciple, must have four key traits for the relationship to be profitable: humility, curiosity, trust and listening skills.
The steps to follow for a good implementation of a program are:
First, ensure the vocation of the intervening parties; the tutor and the person must be convinced of the benefits of the task to be carried out.
Second, this activity implies training and training , of the person under tutoring, and also of the tutor, since if he has never been before, he must receive some training in this regard.
This practice emerged in the eighties, when many companies dealt with deep staff regulations, structural changes, geographical and functional mobility.
Against this background, companies want values such as loyalty, trust, identification with the objectives of the company to be installed in the employee again.
That is why you try to share knowledge, experiences, criteria and decisions with them through mentoring programs.
These programs seek priority objectives such as:
- The training of future managers.
- The improvement in relations between managers and employees.
- The opening of a feedback channel from lower to higher levels.
- Knowledge management in the organization.
The relationship is based on the agreement to maintain regular contacts for a specified period of time. The relationship should not be subject to a direct hierarchy between those involved. Both mentor and disciple must be able to separate the term of the program without having to continue it informally. For this, the disciple must be clear from the beginning what he wants to obtain from his mentor, communicate it and strive to achieve it.
One of the possibilities that this policy gives us is the possibility of capturing tacit knowledge, where the most veteran employees can train those with less experience. The best leaders are thought to come from other leaders who have formed them.
With regard to knowledge management, the mentor aims to explain his knowledge of people management and business management and administration.
But the mentee has to ensure that the knowledge "circulates" throughout the organization, so that the process feeds back on itself and does not find that it must be repeated continuously.
People no longer work their entire lives in the same organization; thus; their careers belong to them and they must do something to direct them.
In the scheme of previous years, when companies were solely responsible for the career development of their employees, they were also responsible for maintaining their employability. In the current scheme where a person changes companies several times in the course of their working life, they are responsible for the changes they undertake and, from this perspective, they are responsible for their career.
Open Career or Job Posting
In these cases, the company opens all the positions and people apply for the positions they want to fill. It is a way of channeling the approach to one's own career starting from a personal action: stating that you want to participate in a search within the scope of the company itself.
Companies that successfully apply this tool do so first in an area of freedom of expression, where people can say without fear of retaliation that they want to change positions and grow.
Another key is information: you must transparently disseminate what the internal searches are and when you decide to go to market.
Young Professionals Plan
It is the selection of a group of people who with a training guided from the same program will in the future be managers or key people in the organization.
For these programs to be successful, it is necessary that the maximum leadership and the main managers have a clear idea of the career plan of these young people.
It is not only feasible to apply them in large organizations, but anyone who thinks of their human resources as the intellectual capital of their company and considers them strategic for their business, must take young people into account for the future of their organization.
The different youth programs:
- Scholarships and internships: for students in the middle of the career and up to 70%.
- Trainees: for university students with 85% of the passed subjects and studying the last year.
- Programs for young graduates who join the organization in a dependent relationship.
A key aspect of this process is recruitment through different channels:
- Ads : originality is sought and to convey the image and values of the company. They differ from traditional search.
- Universities: presentations are made with videos and company material is delivered.
- Referrals: youngsters from previous litters present interested parties.
- When the program is known, the curriculum can be entered from the company's website.
The characteristics and benefits of these programs in general are known, which is why the selection processes must work with large groups, which can exceed a thousand candidates.
The stages that the program entails begins with the reception and reading of the curriculum vitae, then group interviews will be held where the characteristics of the program will be exposed, group evaluations of potential and personality and assessment with the participation of future bosses.
Therefore, after passing the initial tests when looking for future leaders, this number is considerably reduced and a more specific phase of the process is entered, where in this individual instance:
- An in-depth individual interview with Human Resources.
- In-depth interviews with eventual bosses, which can reach five.
- Psychological evaluations.
- Technical Evaluations, in some cases.
- Language assessments.
- Final hiring interview.
The most frequent activities in these programs are:
- Traditional-style courses.
- On-the-job training.
- Special works (projects).
This technique described by Nonaka, on the management of the knowledge-creating company , consists of establishing an organization that duplicates processes, projects, operational activities and managerial responsibilities.
The fundamental principle of the organizational structure of Japanese companies is duplicity .
Duplication is important, because it encourages more frequent communication and dialogue . This creates a "common cognitive ground" among employees, and thus facilitates the transmission of tacit knowledge.
Because members of the organization share overlapping information, they can pick up on what others are trying to express. This allows the new explicit knowledge to be extended to the entire company, to be internalized by other employees.
The logic of duplicity should be understood as an overlapping process in which the different functional divisions work together through a shared division of labor.
Why assign two or more groups of employees for the same product development project?
Because when there is shared responsibility, information is multiplied and the company's ability to create and put concepts into practice is accelerated.
Free access to all company information serves to generate duplication.
The key is to continually encourage employees to re-examine what they consider to be proven and safe.
Turnover is another way to generate knowledge and increase the value of employees in order to develop new skills and get to know the company from multiple perspectives.
These programs are one of the most effective methods of transmitting knowledge, since in many companies, knowledge and experience are found only in a few people, so employees who are in daily contact with these experts benefit greatly from their skills and knowledge, but, nevertheless, their field of influence is quite limited, so the fact of transferring them to different parts of the company serves to facilitate the transmission of that wealth.
Collaboration and teamwork
Teams frequently turn individual effort into extraordinary successes. Studies of high-performing teams show that groups often drive individual talent toward collective achievement. Facing strong demands, teams solve problems better than isolated individuals, in addition to transmitting knowledge and a work style.
The idea is to invest in external providers that contribute ideas, new frameworks and instruments to strengthen the organization. Consultants and subcontractors, used effectively, can share their knowledge, create new ones and plan better than those who, being close to work, have not succeeded.
Many companies are learning to use advisers, not to depend on them. This approach requires adapting, not adopting, the consultants' models, since each company has its own way of applying these ideas. The knowledge must be transferred to the client organization so that the consultants end up being made unnecessary due to their own work.
The company must unravel the methods and tools of the consultants so that their employees can reproduce and deploy them later. Borrowing means focusing less on projects and more on methods of restructuring with the assistance of the advisor.
Using an advisor wisely means “borrowing their knowledge to make your own,” as opposed to renting it out.
When an organization has established what are the traits of a good leader according to its organizational culture and professional environment, it is essential that it designs, implements and guides the manager development system towards its own ends.
We must bear in mind that in an organization that pretends to be a transmitter of knowledge, the most important responsibility of a good leader is to develop other leaders personally.
We must invest in existing staff to strengthen and improve them. Some of the learning takes place in training centers and programs; much more takes place on the job. In both cases, managers cultivate their intellectual capital by investing in learning that combines inquiry with action, new ideas replace old ones, and behavior changes.
A constructive intellectual capital strategy works when senior managers ensure that development is more than just an academic activity , when training is linked to business results, not mere theory, when learning is active and when learning is systematically of work experiences.
In companies where disengagement occurs without traumatic events or due to the voluntary departure of the employee, in this instance we have a powerful opportunity to receive direct feedback from someone who, without being limited by their membership in the organizational structure, can provide information relevant first hand.
Some authors recommend allowing a period of time to pass between the departure and this type of interview, in order to achieve greater objectivity, while others recommend conducting it as soon as possible.
Following Dave Ulrich's idea, we think that managers should fire those individuals who do not perform the required minimum. Sometimes individuals previously qualified, but who have not developed new skills, cease to be so for new working methods. Other times they are unable to change, learn and adapt.
A company must have the courage to consistently fire the lowest performing percentage.
Staff must know what is expected of them; both those who leave the company and those who remain in it must know why.
I want to emphasize from my experience that knowledge is not a good that can be manipulated directly, so I have tried to highlight those techniques that benefit both parties, it is not that as area managers we manage to deprive people of their most precious asset , which is their know-how, what we try to do is create an environment where, from the meeting and exchange, the people involved can expand and develop those skills to meet the objectives set by the company, but without forgetting that the media continue to belong to them.