Recently I had a conversation with one of my colleagues regarding his organization’s loss of critical expertise.
As people started to move in and out of the company, valuable knowledge gaps appeared. In a statement of exasperation he asked, “Where have my experts gone?”
To address these gaps, the organization began hiring short term (6 months or less) expertise to perform specific duties. When these resources moved on the organization was back to square one. This lead him to ask, “How can we address this long term?”, “Where can we find experts to fill these positions long term?”, and… “How would you address this issue?”
Well I guess this is the million dollar question.
The first task I told him I would do is to prioritize the areas that have experienced knowledge loss and, based on that, perform a knowledge audit of the area that has been identified as the highest priority. In addition, further knowledge audits should be scheduled for the remaining areas as his organization became more comfortable with executing knowledge audits. I did inform him that the knowledge audit will tell him what specific knowledge gaps exist, who the current knowledge holders are, and what percentage of knowledge is tacit, explicit, or both.
Understanding if the knowledge gap is tacit, and the specifics of this tacit knowledge would help you determine the type of expertise you need to hire and for how long. In understanding if the knowledge is explicit, your key knowledge holders may have access to this knowledge somewhere in the organization (knowledge repository/portal, network folders, on the shelf, etc.), you may also have the ability to purchase this knowledge or perform research to document this knowledge. I also believe engaging the key knowledge holders when it comes to identifying the “right” personnel to bring in to fill key positions will start to address his concerns around where to find the experts he needs.
I know this is just a start to address his problem. I would like to know what others believe he should do, and why. In this current economy it’s only a matter of time before all of our organizations start to face this same problem!
This understanding will lead to determining which positions and personnel perform duplicate functions, which will lead to knowing the employees that should be terminated (better yet receive a package and convinced to leave!). Not only do you have to determine which personnel perform duplicate functions, but also who is more valuable through his/her experience, education, and importance to the organization going forward. The Human Capital Management Strategy is also an investment in employee selection and development. This contributes to the organization meeting its goals and objectives of not only the merger but for the organization on an on going basis.
Another aspect to Human Capital Management that we must keep in mind is that it can be the catalyst to increased adaptability, enhanced worker performance and with the current economic climate, having the ability to do more with your existing personnel resources.
In order to properly manage your organizations human capital assets it is important to identify who are the knowledge holders within the organization. Creating a knowledge map is an excellent tool to facilitate the identification of the key knowledge holders, knowledge gaps and identifies areas to leverage existing knowledge and where knowledge is eroding. However, performing a knowledge mapping exercise should focus on a particular department, functional area, or specific organization domain and gradually built upon until an entire knowledge map of your organization exist.
As part of a comprehensive Human Capital Management Strategy an understanding of the roles, work products (artifacts), and tasks (activities) are key for persons on-boarding and/or gaining understanding of what is required for a particular job. It is important for any organization to not only identify the corporate roles, tasks and work products but to also provide the necessary guidance around this aspect of the corporate structure. In doing so creating an environment in which all employees can go to for the specific role knowledge is essential. One way I found to accomplish this is to utilize the Eclipse Process Framework . This framework provided by the Eclipse Foundation will enable your organization to build a knowledge base of corporate roles, the tasks that each role performs, the work products that are produced along with the guidance (i.e., whitepapers, templates, FAQ’s, key contacts, PowerPoint presentations, video, audio, etc.).
For a moment consider the value of having such an environment and its many uses. Some that immediately come to mind is being able to quickly have a new person filling a role to come up to speed and create assigned deliverables. Or, perhaps having a repository of “knowledge nuggets” supplied by the experience people in that role that can serve as repository to capture worker knowledge, which will lead to performing that role more effectively and efficiently. This will undoubtedly lead to increased performance within the workforce.
Let me know what you think. More strategy “tid bits” to come.
If your organization is either losing valuable knowledge due to staff retirement, staff moving to another department or leaving the company altogether then your organization has a strong case for Knowledge Management (KM). Specifically I want to address leveraging KM to manage your Human Capital. This is a continuation of thought around capturing worker knowledge. Managing your human capital when staff enter your organization through employee orientation, mapping their roles, responsibilities and their work products as they perform their duties and executing a comprehensive exit interview are all aspects of a KM strategy aimed at moving your human capital to corporate capital.
During the next several days I will post more aspects of this strategy and what I believe has to occur to be successful in Human Capital Management. I welcome your thoughts, comments concerns and examples of what works for your organization.