Monday, 23 May 2016

Leave no stone unturned to capture the tacit knowledge from your staff

Tacit knowledge is hidden and remains with an individual.
Water vector designed by Freepik

Explicit knowledge is only a tip of iceberg. More than 95% of knowledge remains within your staff member – like the bottom of the iceberg. And it’s becoming extremely difficult to retain quality staff these days. This means, all the time you are at the risk of losing a major chunk of organisational knowledge built both by the perseverance of your employee and the money and time you spent on his or her capacity building. Keep aside the learning that comes to him or her with the work delivery.

So, how do you extract the knowledge from your staff? Is it good to start nudging him or her as you get the hint that the person is on the verge of leaving the organisation?

The answer is NO. The knowledge extraction, I would better say, knowledge percolation should be planned from the day one – the joining date of the staff. However, embedding it in the job description won’t fetch you a 100% result. And there’s no full-proof method either!

However, still there are few methods that can help you tap some of the staff wisdom.

Sharing sessions
It’s simple but effective. Organise sharing sessions and multi-stakeholder sharing platforms regularly at your office and invite your staff and others to present their learning and knowledge. It will not only make them feel important but other staff and your organisation will also benefit from the sharing. Get the sessions recorded and transcribe the speech. Keep the video in the archive and make sure it is available to all staff all the time – upload it in the intranet.

While write-shops are organised to get reports and publications completed in one-go, they can be crucial in capturing the learning and experience of your staff. Like in the sharing session don’t forget to record the whole session. Any day, any time, the shared experiences might be handy for the organisation.

Exit interview
This is the most common practice to extract the tacit knowledge from a member of staff before he or she leaves the organisation. It’s useful and helpful but not a full-proof method to capture the knowledge, learning and experience from the defector. Also, as the employee is in the process of leaving and joining another organisation, there’s no enthusiasm in him or her to share the learning
and experiences. However, it’s a must-to-do process to get out whatever-you-can from the deserter. 

One-to-one meetings
One-to-one meetings in informal settings are another method of getting out the learning and knowledge from your staff. It works better if it is done with a cup of coffee in your hands – you can term it as coffee hour or coffee chat. So, who should be responsible for doing this? It’s obvious – either the HR person or the internal communications person in close coordination with the knowledge management team. 

Organisational intranet
Make proper use of intranet – make it mandatory to upload the field trip reports (with lessons learned), meeting minutes, work plans, draft reports, project progress and completion reports, and outcomes of brainstorming sessions. Though it seems clumsy, cumbersome and a process-oriented affair, it will in the long run, help you gather nuggets of knowledge, at least to some extent.

Make sure you have an opinion, lessons learned or takeaway section in the reports. It’s the part where the writer jots down his learnings and recommendations.

Mobile apps
What has a mobile application got to do with extracting knowledge from your staff? It sounds absurd but it’s becoming a reality. Teams are more and more depending on different mobile apps to accomplish their tasks in a timely manner and they have been using a variety of mobile applications and services to serve their purposes.

Take example of Trello, Yammer, Slack and a slew of mobile applications helping teams to converse and collaborate. Personally, I have been using Yammer and Slack and during the conversations with team members, sometimes unusually, find great shares by colleagues. I don’t mean to say that you should be scouring the conversation threads to extract the learnings, but taking note of some key spurts of knowledge sharing and opinions can prove to be a crucial piece in your jigsaw called knowledge management.

Have you got something more to add to this list? It would be great to hear your ideas on gleaning knowledge from an individual.

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