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Effective Techniques for Closing Organizational Knowledge Gaps

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Effective Techniques for Closing Organizational Knowledge Gaps

Feb 24, 2024   |  By
KMI Guest Blogger Amanda Winstead

It’s a relatively well-understood concept that the more knowledge someone has, the better they can perform. This idea is especially true in the workplace. The professional knowledge an employee has will have a direct impact on their role and performance within the company.

If an employee or even multiple team members have knowledge gaps, this can lead to inefficiency, less productivity, and overall lower job performance. In some cases, knowledge gaps can lead to mistakes
that end up costing the company a lot of money.

Knowledge management practices, however, help employers stay on top of discrepancies between what their employees know and what they need to know or learn to help the company succeed. By identifying these gaps quickly, it can help keep things in the workplace running seamlessly and avoid any costly mistakes made due to a lack of knowledge. 

Why Knowledge Management is Important

While your company might go through a rigorous hiring process to ensure you are bringing on well-trained and experienced employees suited to the job, it’s natural for knowledge gaps to form over time. This is especially true today with our rapidly advancing technologies. It’s common for an employee to have the skills they need one day and be behind the next.

This isn’t the employee’s fault, however, and should not be treated as such. Instead, it’s the company’s job to ensure their employees have the opportunities they need to continue learning and growing so they can succeed in their role and also help the company grow.

A company is only as good as its employees. So if you want your company to succeed then you must make the effort to enable your employees to succeed as well, which means helping them fill knowledge gaps as they arise.

Knowledge management is important because it improves productivity and employee experiences, and it helps companies learn from their past mistakes so they can do better moving forward. In contrast, knowledge decay can hamper innovation and negatively impact profitability.

Knowledge Management Best Practices to Address Gaps

For knowledge management to truly be effective, your company must be proactive in identifying and addressing knowledge gaps by following knowledge management best practices.

1. Clarify Objectives

Any time a company develops a new program or strategy, it is important to first sit down and clarify the objectives for the process. It will be easier to stay on track and achieve the desired results if you clearly lay out your goals for the strategy first and what you hope to achieve.

Consider where you need to focus your knowledge management efforts and what your needs are when it comes to knowledge gaps. Asking questions can help you establish a better knowledge management plan that is specifically suited to the needs of your employees and your company.

2. Conduct Gap Analysis

Gap analysis is a method used to compare entities to identify differences that might signal where there are discrepancies or potential risks. This method can be used in various ways within an organization as a form of risk assessment, but it can also be used to identify knowledge gaps and what is causing them.

The three main elements of gap analysis are:

●      Analyzing performance: This first step involves assessing the current state of performance within the company, which can help you identify areas of deficiency or underperformance.

●      Analyzing potential: This next step is about identifying where there is potential for improvement.

●      Establishing a plan: Last, once gaps are identified, you will need to analyze them to determine how best to fill them.

When you use this method for knowledge management, the best way to fill gaps is often through training or providing resources and opportunities for employees to be proactive about advancing their knowledge and skills.

3. Evaluate Current Processes

Continuous process evaluation is crucial for many reasons to ensure the success of a company, but it plays a particularly important role when dealing with knowledge gaps. You might think that evaluating your employees directly is the best way to identify knowledge gaps, but it is often more helpful to first evaluate your business processes.

If a process within your business is not achieving the desired outcomes, then you will have better direction with regard to identifying the specific gaps your company needs filled. For example, if after evaluating a process, you realize that the issue is it takes up too much time, the answer might be you need to adopt a new tool or technology to make that process more efficient. In this case, you would fill the gap by upgrading to that new technology and then training your employees so they have the knowledge they need to properly use that technology.

One of the best ways to evaluate processes to help identify gaps is by using process mapping. By mapping out every step of a process you get a clearer picture of how everything works or isn’t working so you can more easily identify the issue and find a solution.

4. Leverage the Right Tools and Technology

Another crucial knowledge management best practice is leveraging technology. Having the right tools can significantly boost your knowledge management strategies.

Knowledge management tools are designed to serve a range of different purposes, including document management, information storage, file organization, content management, and knowledge sharing. Artificial intelligence (AI) is commonly used in knowledge management tools as it can help with automating knowledge acquisition and better decision-making.

When surveyed by Verizon about how to overcome business challenges, a compendium of experts including business coaches, entrepreneurs, and owners notes it’s important to “embrace new ways of working to keep employees happy.” This includes using tech tools such as knowledge management software to improve their uptake.

Some common knowledge management tools used today include:

  • Document360
  • ClickUp
  • Guru
  • Confluence
  • Notion
  • Trainual
  • Slite

These are just a few examples of the wide range of tools available today. It’s best to first evaluate your processes and identify the gaps in your company before you can decide which tools are right for your company’s specific needs.

Wrapping Up

After you’ve developed a quality knowledge management strategy and have implemented the right tools and technologies, another important part of preventing knowledge gaps moving forward is building a strong knowledge-sharing culture within your company.

Foster collaboration and open communication where employees feel comfortable speaking up for their needs. This requires a top-down culture supported by management teams that can guide employees and help them get what they need so they can perform better at their jobs.

In the end, knowledge management works best when everyone is working and collaborating together to achieve success as a whole rather than only focusing on the success of one entity.

Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Northwest US area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. She has been following Knowledge Management for several years and it's one of her favorite topics to explore.  Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts.

If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn or check out her portfolio.

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