There’s no doubt that Enterprise Q&A programs like Quandora provide a valuable service by documenting the procedures and policies followed by current employees in order to make this critical knowledge available to other teams and future workers. We’ve already touched on the importance of documenting this information in past articles on disaster planning and employee training – so I won’t rehash why this is such a good idea in yet another post.
Today, I want to deal with the “how” – not the “why.”
Really, it’s one thing to say that knowledge management is a priority for your organization – it’s another thing entirely to “walk the walk” in this pursuit. You can set up your own corporate Quandora Knowledge Base and populate it with questions, but if key staff members don’t actively participate in sharing their hard-won information, what’s the point of pursuing an Enterprise Q&A system in the first place?
Stop me if the following example sounds familiar…
Think about the employees within your company who work directly with your customers. Maybe they’re technical service people, maybe they’re sales people – the important thing is that they’re out there in the field every day, building very practical, highly valuable experience that could benefit others within your organization.
These workers have seen plenty of situations that only occur in real life, meaning that they can’t be learned by reading books and documentations written by those without this personal experience. But unfortunately, because these same employees spend most of their time in the field, they aren’t always able to share this important information within others in your company, simply due to the isolation of working apart from other internal departments.
Clearly, these particular types of workers represent an ideal source of information for your company’s Quandora Knowledge Base. Capturing these experiences provides more robust, “real world” content that can be used to inform internal practices used by all the departments of your company.
The challenge, of course, comes from getting these primarily-remote workers to take an active role in your Enterprise Q&A system!
Because these employees may see themselves as being either a) too busy, or b) separate entities apart from your main office, encouraging them to participate can take some extra finesse. Consider any of the following techniques to improve their motivation and expand the base of knowledge that can be found in your Quandora installation:
Praise the type of knowledge gathered by client-facing workers
There isn’t anybody out there who doesn’t benefit from an ego boost every so often! If you want your “in the field” workers to participate more actively with your Enterprise Q&A system, make it clear just how much you value their unique information and insights. Simply knowing that their contributions are appreciated may be enough to compel otherwise-reticent employees to take the time to share their experiences in your company’s Knowledge Base.
Make meaningful policy changes based on their contributions
Similarly, demonstrate how important the knowledge contributions of these remote workers are by actually effecting changes based on the information they share.
Often, client-facing workers are the ones who best see the disconnect between the policies set by your corporate headquarters and how these procedures are implemented in the “real world” by customers. In fact, your remote workers may even be the ones offering clients the “workarounds” that help customers bypass the seemingly-restrictive or nonsensical policies put in place by your company!
If any of these situations arise, avoid disciplining your remote workers. Instead, to continue to encourage their participation, use the knowledge they share to make policy changes that suit the needs of both your company and your customers.
Make Enterprise Q&A a mandatory part of post-client follow-up
Finally, if your company uses a post-client visit follow-up procedure (which typically involves submitting reports or forms detailing the progress achieved by the customer meeting), make posting any lessons learned from the interaction to Quandora a part of the process. Doing so will make knowledge generation a regular expectation – rather than something client-facing employees should do whenever they feel like it.
Ideally, these techniques should allow you to capture critical “employee know-how” from the workers who interact directly with your customers. Treat this information as incredibly valuable, and you’ll be rewarded with a robust knowledge management system that can be used to improve the performance of your entire organization as a whole.