"Knowledge" is a trendy and overused buzz-phrase, but the principles behind it are important to every team leader. If your team identifies, documents, and shares what it knows and learns, you can create a knowledge base on which to build future growth and improvement.
Take this quiz to see how your team's knowledge-management practices stack up. For each item, rank your team from 1 to 5, with 1 being "never" and 5 "always":
- Every member of the team helps orient new members.
- We have a resource library, accessible to every member of the team, where we keep materials such as trade publications or training manuals for future reference.
- Every member of the team knows how our group's files are organized and has access to them.
- When team members go for off-site classroom training, they are expected to share what they've learned by giving some sort of presentation to the full team.
- We have a "logbook"--either in paper or electronic form--that the team uses to keep a record of its efforts.
- I ask team members to identify their key skills and competencies, as well as areas they think they've mastered and ones that they feel need improvement. We update these lists at regular intervals.
- We prepare reports on each project once it's completed, whether we need to submit them or not. Each member of the team contributes to these reports.
- I encourage team members to share with the team what they're interested in, and what activities they may be involved in, outside of work.
- I conduct exit interviews with departing team members. If possible, they train their replacements; if not, I ask them to teach other team members how to do their key tasks.
- When interviewing applicants, I think about ways my team members can use all their skills and knowledge, not just those that the specific position requires.
What do your answers mean?
If your total is 35 or higher, your team is doing a good job capturing and managing its knowledge and making it work toward improving results.
If you scored between 25 and 34, your team probably has some strong knowledge management practices, but it could use improvement in others. By reviewing the items above, you can identify whether you need to improve recordkeeping, or sharing knowledge within the team, or capturing the skills of each team member.
If you scored less than 24, you likely need to pay closer attention to all these areas. Remember that knowledge management doesn't have to be something you do in addition to all your current work. Good knowledge management practices can be part of your everyday routine. Without putting in more effort than you already do, you can greatly increase the effectiveness of your team.