You don’t mean to brag, but your workplace is pretty on track to having a bonafide knowledge-driven culture. You have the tools, you have the enthusiasm, and you even have some employees that love adding to your knowledge base. There’s only one thing you’re missing: a verified knowledge manager.
What is a knowledge manager?
A knowledge manager ensures everyone in your organization has the information they need. They do this by owning the ongoing governance of a knowledge base or company wiki, including its overall health and best practices. They’re the ones that make important decisions around information architecture, technology, and the overall structure and use of an organization’s knowledge base.
Why knowledge managers are a valuable investment for your team
We know what you’re thinking. “Everyone loves Guru/ your knowledge management software of choice (which is probably Guru)! It seems like plenty of teams are already using it, do we really need to bring on a knowledge manager?”
We’re going to answer that question with an enthusiastic yes! Depending on the size of the organization, the type of knowledge base, and the knowledge management strategy implemented, a company may choose to create a dedicated knowledge management role.
Knowledge managers can do a lot more than keep your cards and knowledge base in order. In fact, hiring one can have a lot of surprising benefits.
Improve access to information and knowledge
We know that plenty of employees are already using your knowledge-sharing software, but a knowledge manager can truly help bring your knowledge-sharing game to the next level.
Your teams have done a pretty good job of finding their own way to share knowledge within your established system, but a knowledge manager can help make things even more accessible and shareable. They’re experts at organizing and distributing important information, and they know how to turn a “pretty good” system into a “truly awesome” one.
It’s also important to know that knowledge management isn’t just limited to producing content to share. A true knowledge manager can help facilitate other kinds of knowledge sharing and mentor others on the right way to spread information.
Not sure what we mean? We’ll let Aprill Allen of Knowledge Bird explain:
I think of knowledge management as an overarching capability with the knowledge manager as coach and facilitator, nudging teams and individuals towards improving their knowledge-sharing practices.
They do that by enabling more streamlined information flow between tools, but also by creating the conditions for knowledge to flow between people. Those conditions could be informal opportunities to gather as well as formal structures like peer learning and mentoring.
Streamline the decision-making process
What’s the best way to format cards that outline the sales process? How do we change the title and tagging system to make it easier for people to find information?
Your workplace has no shortage of good ideas. The problem comes with deciding which good idea gets pursued. Sometimes the easiest way to get things done is just to have someone say “yes” or “no.”
The beauty of having a knowledge manager is two-fold in this space. You get someone that can be the official “decider,” and you have someone with the expertise needed to make those decisions. Instead of scheduling endless planning meetings and getting dozens of opinions, now you have one person you can lean on to make informed decisions.
Promote organization innovation and change
Is there a company that doesn’t want to be more innovative? Everyone wants to say their company made the next “big” thing in their industry. Knowledge management is a crucial stepping stone to innovation, and the right person can help you reach your goals.
Remember, knowledge management is more than just collecting and organizing important information. It also helps encourage the sharing of ideas and collaboration between employees and teams. When you hire a knowledge manager, you’re hiring someone that can help foster innovation. Your knowledge manager can help facilitate discussions, organize important knowledge, and help foster collaboration between teams.
Improve efficiency across departments
You’d be surprised how much more efficient things can be when everyone has the information they need to work. Then, all of a sudden, it takes much less time to do essential tasks because everything you need is readily available.
Consider what your teams could really do if they had enough time and bandwidth to work on different things. New projects can get underway, brainstorming sessions become the norm, and everyone is working in lockstep because the office is so much more organized and efficient!
Who makes a good knowledge manager?
Anyone whose job it is to champion the use of a knowledge base can be a knowledge manager, but those who formally take on the role and responsibilities tend to include:
- Enablement managers (including revenue, sales, and CX enablement)
- IT managers
- Operations managers
- Program managers
- Learning and development managers
Example Knowledge Manager job description
You may be able to find someone internally to take on knowledge management work, or it’s possible that you may have to start recruiting for the role. Regardless of how you choose to hire your knowledge manager, success starts with having a thorough job description.
Your future knowledge manager (or wisdom warrior, knowledge ninja, or whatever quirky spin HR and brand want to put on the role) needs to come in with a clear expectation of their role and responsibilities. If you need help coming up with your job description, feel free to use this as a starting point.
The knowledge manager's primary responsibility is to encourage correct and widespread usage of the company's knowledge base. They should create guidelines for what information is captured, and by whom how it integrates with the rest of the tech stack, and how to keep it from growing stale.
An ideal candidate thrives in a dynamic fast-paced environment and has a background in leading content and information architecture strategy across an organization. As a Knowledge Manager, you will define the content/knowledge management strategy and lead the content architecture and strategy. The role will focus on developing, auditing, and maintaining high quality content for employees.
You'll work closely with key stakeholders across the company to maintain consistency at a global scale and align the content strategy with their vision. You will play a significant role in the development of a successful and effective knowledge base and will have a direct impact on employees day to day.
Primary Responsibilities include:
- Define the knowledge management strategy for our knowledge base and maintain high quality, up-to-date, and searchable content for audiences of varying skill level
- Work effectively across the organization with stakeholders, change management, service teams, trainers, curriculum developers and subject matter experts to develop and support new and existing products, features, and services.
- Leverage Guru's analytics to evaluate business impact, track the usage and define efficiency of the knowledge base content.
- Lead, coach and develop a team of authors from each department
- Establish writing guidelines based on knowledge base best practices and develop the team to ensure they are achieving or surpassing them.
How to set your knowledge manager up for success
When your search for a knowledge manager is finally over, it’s the perfect time to talk about how you can set them up for true success.
Teams that want their knowledge manager to succeed will going to need to do a little work to put them in the best environment possible. If you’re serious about bringing on a knowledge manager, here’s what you need to do.
A big part of knowledge management is having the right documentation. Before you bring on your new hire, help give them the tools they’ll need to start organizing and maintaining internal knowledge through repeatable processes and templates.
Not sure what we mean? Let the pros show you how they use templates to manage their most important work knowledge.
Does your marketing department need an easy way to create their standard operating procedures (SOPs)? See how the financial experts at bread make stellar SOPS by downloading their free template!
Want more helpful templates from industry experts and your friends at Guru? Check out our templates gallery!
Determine your ultimate goals
Giving everyone actionable goals is essential for workplace success, and your soon-to-be knowledge manager is no different. Stepping into this role at organizations that are new to understanding the value of knowledge management can feel a bit like boiling the ocean. So before you bring them on, think about what you want your knowledge manager to accomplish.
Many of the stellar results you see from your knowledge manager can be challenging to quantify in terms of hard business results. So instead of thinking about things in terms of revenue and sales goals, think about how they can improve structuring and sharing knowledge.
Make it a goal to have subject matter experts identified and fully integrated into your knowledge management system within six months of bringing your knowledge manager on. Task your knowledge manager with proposing a new content structure for cards by their 90-day review. Regardless of what you come up with, make sure you’re giving them attainable and actionable goals to meet.
Understand what they can and can’t do
Your knowledge worker can do a lot to help collect, organize, and distribute vital information among your staff. They can be seen as expert communicators, information architects, and masters of organization and distribution.
Knowledge managers can be a lot of things, but unfortunately, they aren’t miracle workers.
Remember, knowledge management is everyone’s responsibility at work, but it’s the knowledge manager’s role to make sure everyone can fulfill that responsibility. They can help with the basic tenants of keeping knowledge organized and distributed. However, for that to work, managers and other employees need to be willing to contribute the building blocks of that information.
It’s entirely possible that, in order for that to happen, you may need to make some changes to your organization. But don’t worry, we’ll get into that in a bit.
Talk to team members about their knowledge management needs
What do your teams want to see from the knowledge manager? For example, HR may want to revamp the collections’ content hierarchy, and sales may want a better way to organize their prospects. Regardless of what they want, the only way to know is to ask.
Like we said earlier, we want to avoid having your new knowledge manager feel like they’re boiling the ocean, so prioritization is key. Think about the most effective changes a knowledge manager can make by asking the team the right questions.
What would make the day easier for your support agents? Is there anything you can do internally to improve the customer experience? What would help the engineering team ship code faster? When you focus on things that can make the most impact, it’s easier to get your knowledge manager started off on the right foot.
Create a welcoming environment
It’s going to be hard to contribute to your company’s knowledge base when you’re overbooked for the week and get side-eye from your manager when they see you’re not on project work. A lot of the time, switching to a more knowledge-driven workplace involves more cultural changes than anything else. If you really want to set your knowledge manager up for success, make it easier for everyone to work together.
Set the expectation with managers and team members that knowledge management isn’t an optional activity. For it to work effectively, everyone needs to take the time and effort to contribute.
Give everyone the time they need to create and organize knowledge. You don’t need to set aside hours each day to encourage people to add to and improve your knowledge base. Just giving everyone 15-30 minutes to make changes and add new information can be more than enough.
Want to truly make your knowledge manager’s day easier? Help them identify your knowledge champions on different subjects and teams. They’ll play an integral role in helping your knowledge manager and building out your knowledge base.
Set them up with the right technology
Having the right tech stack is essential for any worker, and that’s especially true for your knowledge manager. Take some time to learn how having the right tools can set employees up for success before you start your tool search.
Your knowledge manager is going to have a lot of legacy knowledge to sort through. Make things easier for them by letting them know about all of the different areas in which knowledge currently exists at your company. Get managers from different teams involved to make sure that you leave no stone unturned.
Knowing where your knowledge exists can make finding the right tools and integrations easier. Once you know that, you could start using a genuinely great knowledge base.