It’s an exciting time in the world of knowledge management (KM)! You have a monsoon of knowledge-related data like never before; knowledge managers that can make sense of all this data to improve knowledge are in-demand.
The job growth rate for knowledge manager titles sits at 11% year over year according to Zippia—higher than the national average of 5 to 8% annually. The best way to equip yourself for success is to stay educated, sharpen your skills, and add new skills if needed.
Leading a team of knowledge managers or looking to advance in your career? Here are 5 important skills to work on.
1. Change management
No matter what knowledge management system you have…you must implement new technology and processes occasionally. This involves changing systems and processes.
As a knowledge manager, get familiar with change management—the process of planning, implementing, and monitoring changes to a business or organizational system. Prior to any new KM evaluation, it’s a good idea to have a change management plan in place that includes:
- Risks and benefits of the change
- What will change, and who will be impacted
- When and how the change will take place
- How change will get announced
Why change management is important in knowledge management
Change management is critical skill for knowledge managers because KM systems must get successfully implemented, adopted, and tweaked to remain effective.
You still need humans to change behaviors and processes, which can be difficult without a plan.
If changing systems is imminent, you’ll need great communication skills, an understanding of what the company culture is like, and the ability to lead.
3 ways to to improve your change management skills
To learn more about change management or to add to your current knowledge, here are a few simple tactics.
1. Read up on the latest literature and research on change management
The ADKAR model—an acronym that stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement, connects individual change to organizational change.
This model is used to identify the critical elements of successful change management.
2. Take classes or workshops on change management
You can find a variety of classes and workshops on change management offered by universities and business schools.
Prosci is a good online resource for studying different knowledge management methodologies. They specialize in change management and offer a variety of online change management workshops and programs depending on your needs.
3. Attend knowledge management conferences
You can commonly find sessions on change management at a few of the top knowledge management conferences.
Chatting with other KM pros is one of the most practical ways to learn what works, what doesn’t, and how to apply change management principles in context to your role.
2. Data analysis
As a knowledge manager, it helps to be able to identify patterns and trends, and draw conclusions based on the results. There are a few different data analysis techniques, visualizations, and statistical methods that can help to know a bit about.
The value of data analysis skills
Knowledge management systems produce a ton of data. Even though some knowledge management platforms have more advanced reporting, you need to be able to draw conclusions no matter what system you use.
Many legacy systems may not include reports that include insight into:
- Frequently accessed content
- User adoption
- Analysis of feedback from customers or employees
- Unused content
- Empty search queries
Yes, enterprise knowledge management tools include many built-in analytics reports that can be helpful, but you may be asked to provide data needed for other systems. If you don’t have the luxury of an operations or technical team, understanding a few basic concepts can give you an edge. Here are a few areas of focus to consider:
- Descriptive statistics
- Regression models
- Machine learning
- Neural networks
Develop or improve basic programming skills
Some level of programming knowledge can also be extremely helpful as a knowledge manager. You should consider learning a programming language, such as Python or R, specifically designed for data analysis. It also helps to familiarize yourself with basic HTML/CSS depending on the type of KM product you support.
Familiarity with data visualization tools like ggplot or Tableau can be helpful to learn as well, depending on your org’s reporting requirements.
3. Presentation skills
To be a great knowledge manager, you really do need a mix of data-related skills and soft skills. This includes organizing and structuring your thoughts about a process, developing a clear and concise messaging, and creating presentations that won’t bore a team of contact center agents or executives.
Why presentation skills are essential for knowledge managers
Good presentation skills are essential as a knowledge manager because you must communicate processes and change to others not as familiar with knowledge management.
KM is a new concept in many organizations; you must present your your findings clearly and concisely for others to understand their role in your KM system. A great presentation can help bridge the gap between KM experts and decision-makers, since many CEOs and executives many not be up to speed.
Great presentation skills can also help you build buy-in for knowledge initiatives that require sign-off from the C-suite, especially if your organization has an RFP process.
Keep it simple
Don’t try to overwhelm the audience with too much information—knowledge management can involve some pretty advanced methodologies and concepts others may not understand.
Stick to the key points, keep it simple, and make sure you always tailor your presentations to the right audience. It’s better to focus on one or two key points and back them up with evidence than cover too much ground.
Quick Tip: Learn how to create a knowledge map —this is a good way to help others visualize processes, people, and technology.
4. Cross-functional communication
Since knowledge management involves a lot of people in your organization, great communication can help others see the value in KM and support you.
Think about everyone in your organization who uses or contributes to knowledge. You likely have subject matter experts who create content, technical admins that help out, and customer support leaders who come to you with requests.
KM is a team game
Every knowledge management team is unique, with unique processes and roles. As a knowledge manager, you need to be able to communicate why knowledge management is important and how it can help employees accomplish their goals…if everyone works together.
Knowledge management is a team game, even if not everyone in your organization understands all the nuances.
Ask for feedback
Knowledge management at its core involves people, processes, and technology—with people at the center. Some people will be creators, while others will be consumers who can provide really valuable feedback.
For example, you may find your new proposed taxonomy isn’t as intuitive to use for employees as you thought. You may also discover contact center agents don’t like weeding through multi-page process documents when on a call with a customer. In this example, it could be time to look into knowledge management solutions that offer decision trees as a content type.
5. Fluency in knowledge management software
As a knowledge manager, work to master the knowledge base or enterprise knowledge management solution you’re in charge of.
Your knowledge management software vendor may offer virtual training or a series of self-guided training videos if you need a refresher. It’s a good idea to learn about new and existing features that can save you time.
Start by mastering the basics of your system if you haven’t already, including:
- Access controls
- Configuring user groups
- Adding and removing users
But also take time to learn how to set up any workflows or automation available. New productivity-boosting features you’re not yet familiar with can save hours of your time.
Knowledge management software has stayed the same for years, but there are a few recent developments worth knowing about as we’ve covered.
Check out this 2023 guide by DMG Consulting, LLC, Knowledge Management for the Enterprise, if you want to learn what enterprise leaders are noticing and looking for in KM software these days.
As a knowledge manager, you need the right skills to capture, process, and manage knowledge-related data—including personal communication skills!
You can find a few different certification programs to help you up-skill, including the Certified Knowledge Manager and Certified Knowledge Specialist programs offered by the KM Institute.
There are also a few knowledge management consulting firms that can offer advice and guidance on a variety of KM topics—like a company-wide knowledge transformation initiative.
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