Organisations leverage the many tangible and intangible strategic assets at their disposal to work towards their goal every day. But out of all these resources, many will agree that knowledge is the greatest of them all. Each business collectively creates and relies on this sum of skills, insights, capabilities, and experiences for its future endeavours. Not only that, it also affects all the activities in and around the organisation.
This is why Learning and Development (L&D) within the workforce plays such an essential role in maintaining a company's growth and sustainability, especially in today's rapidly changing corporate landscape. But as with any business function, L&D is beset with its own unique obstacles, such as retaining institutional knowledge or the accumulated information, skills, and wisdom that defines an organisation's character and is key to its success.
Below, we explore the challenges of knowledge retention and how a combination of centralised learning and technology can aid in its preservation.
Challenges in retaining institutional knowledge
One of the biggest contributors to the loss of invaluable institutional knowledge is high employee turnover rate. The departure of veteran employees inevitably means they also take their accumulated knowledge, expertise, and experiences with them. Thus, L&D teams must figure out how to keep this knowledge even after an employee exits the company and effectively pass it on to the new hires who take their place.
In addition, there is also the prevalent issue of knowledge being isolated within individual teams and departments across various organisations, creating information silos and a fragmented learning system that prevents information from being readily accessible. While this method of decentralised learning has its uses since different organisational units will have different audiences, drivers, and outcomes, opting for a predominantly centralised approach is, more often than not, the best way forward.
The importance of centralising knowledge
In addition to the issues presented prior, other problems warrant the switch to centralising knowledge. For instance, inefficient processes like digging through mountains of training resources or videos to find a particular piece of information lead to lost productivity as employees needlessly waste a good amount of their workday to these frequent information hunts. Therefore, having an arsenal of valuable information does not mean much if it is not easily accessible to those who need it. In fact, it becomes counterproductive instead.
Knowledge centralisation addresses these pressing concerns, particularly through a comprehensive Learning Experience Platform (LXP). This platform not just stores, arranges, and consolidates all internal information of a business but also functions as a collaborative platform. It allows individuals to ask and answer questions, providing diverse perspectives and serving as a helpful collaborative platform. Providing such a knowledge management (KM) system can reduce the amount of time employees spend on information gathering by up to 35%, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. And since they have the resources they need right at their fingertips, improved collaboration and communication are sure to follow, ultimately contributing to a significant uptick in overall productivity.
That said, not all knowledge is easy to share, particularly tacit knowledge that is often exclusively valuable in the department, teams, or environment where it was cultivated. This type of knowledge is formally defined as a professional's skills, knowledge, and abilities, all intangible by nature. Thus, unlike implicit and explicit knowledge, which are easily documented or communicated via centralised KM, tacit knowledge is difficult to codify, formalise, and transfer since it is often based on individual experiences, emotions, and insights.
Best practices to preserve and share critical tacit knowledge
Indeed, harnessing tacit knowledge is incredibly challenging but not impossible. With the help of the following best practices that leverage modern corporate learning management systems in Singapore, organisations can start on the right foot to capture such a valuable resource.
1. Foster a knowledge-sharing culture
Creating and encouraging a knowledge-sharing culture is arguably the first and most important step to codifying tacit knowledge, more so than anything else in this list. This should ideally be supplemented with promoting intentional learning so that employees proactively seek out and capture learning opportunities in their everyday workflow.
2. Show the process
Since humans are predominantly visual learners, showcasing as many business processes as possible is essential. One can achieve this by making video recordings of veteran employees going about the various tasks that are key to the business's operations. Alternatively, one could design a program that invites employees to shadow or watch the knowledge sharer perform their tasks in person. By prioritising the former approach and uploading it to a corporate learning management system in Singapore, organisations can preserve an invaluable resource to get the next generation of recruits up to speed in record time.
3. Document employee stories
Documenting each employee's unique story provides a wealth of tacit knowledge since they contextualise the information being shared, drastically improving knowledge reach. In addition, absorbing tacit knowledge is best achieved through experiences, with stories undeniably one of the best ways to impart them to others. A recommended way of effectively using storytelling for knowledge transfer is by recording Q&A interviews with employees since they can better provide insights into their thought processes and how they achieve certain results on the job. Having hundreds of these videos will surely become an invaluable addition to your growing organisation's knowledge bank.
4. Deploy an internal knowledge-sharing system
Technological advancements and modern corporate learning make internal communications easier than ever, even among hybrid and remote teams. This makes implementing idea management more feasible, especially with a knowledge-sharing system that can support capturing valuable tacit knowledge from employees and make it accessible on-demand across the organisation.
Proper knowledge management and retention allow an organisation to survive and, more importantly, thrive as it improves the workplace's consistency and quality. By having the employees operate from the same playbook, follow the same processes, and implement the same best practices, leaders can ensure that their workforce's output meets or exceeds expectations.