5 Ways You’re Wasting Your Team’s Knowledge
Your team is smart.
Every single person has been handpicked from a pool of talented candidates. They are curious, hungry, interesting and hardworking.
You don’t have to direct their every move. This bunch of engaged, assertive individuals take initiative, discover the pain points in your company and look for fresh solutions.
Are you making the most of what you’ve got?
Every single person in your company has unique skills, talents and knowledge. Yet, most organizations either let that knowledge sit and do nothing with it or watch it slip through their fingertips.
That is a huge mistake that costs you time and money.
Peter Massingham from the University of Wollongong found that loss of knowledge negatively affects your company’s productivity, output, earnings and client relationships.
So, let’s take a look at the five most common ways we waste knowledge.
1. When a valued team member leaves
Employee turnover is one of the biggest contributing factors to knowledge loss.
People move on. It’s a sad, but unavoidable, fact of being an adult in the workplace.
It happens for all sorts of reasons. Some seek growth opportunities and a new challenge, others the mythical work/life balance and a place that values them. A few even retire for good!
As the work landscape continues to evolve, turnover rates keep on climbing.
It’s part of the work cycle now. The digital age and advances in machine learning have revolutionized the way we work. And, while this has brought some incredibly positive changes it has also brought some new challenges.
Very few people stay in the same place for life. According to the latest stats from the US bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person spends 4.2 years with the same employer. That is enough time to build up valuable, niche knowledge.
Unless you have a robust system in place that captures that knowledge, when that team member moves on, their know how and expertise leave with them.
And, while companies are putting handover practices in place, that isn’t always enough.
It’s hard to remember everything you’ve learned at the very end! You’ve got your mind on other things.
The real problem we face is that we don’t know what’s been lost until it’s too late.
Don’t wait until someone on your team hands in their notice to capture their knowledge and expertise.
2. Losing track of key relationships
Relationships make the world go round.
The quality of our relationships with clients, and their relationships with our products, drive sales.
There’s a reason CRM software has become pretty indispensable!
A valuable team member builds and develops those key, strategic relationships throughout their time with us.
What happens to those relationships when people change roles or move on?
How many valuable relationships, leads and opportunities are slipping through the cracks or get abandoned by accident?
And, it’s not just client relationships. What about important industry contacts and sources?
It’s hard to record the personal yet, as businesses strive to be more human, the personal and the professional collide and they will keep on colliding.
We need a way to harness the power of relationships built within our company even when people change roles or take on new responsibilities.
3. Lack of communication
Jacob Morse from Brainspace divides knowledge into two main categories: work product knowledge and insight.
Insight is made up of the knowledge exchanged in notes, emails, watercooler conversations and random thoughts. It doesn’t have a permanent home, so it gets lost.
We need to find a way to capture that ephemeral knowledge or risk losing it forever.
Recording insight knowledge stops team members from wasting time working on projects that have already been started or ideas that have been tried out but never finished.
Instead of covering the same ground work over and over again, this allows your team to build on pre-existing work and focus on improving and innovating.
4. Ignoring the non-critical players
Sometimes, organizations can ignore the knowledge of less critical or more peripheral roles.
A lot of what gets done on the outskirts of a company goes unseen by managers and even other team members. And, while important, it can remain unappreciated.
If you’ve hired someone for your team, you clearly believed that there was a need for that role.
That’s why we need to consider the knowledge those team members hold and find a way to capture it.
We hold on to knowledge for all sorts of reasons.
To make ourselves indispensable in an uncertain economic climate, to appear better informed in front of our colleagues, to maintain an air of mystery or just because no one’s ever expressed an interest.
Knowledge hoarding can bloat an organization and when a certain team member isn’t around to share a specific insight, it creates problems.
Possessiveness can be avoided by embracing the team spirit and freely sharing knowledge between teams and departments.
We aren’t islands. Accomplishments aren’t created in silo.
Unless there’s a specific, legal reason to keep certain information under wraps documenting knowledge will make your team stronger.
It’s time to leverage your team’s knowledge
The real difference between the companies that make it and those that don’t is their ability to work as a team. A real team.
Knowledge is power. And, the way you empower your team is your company’s greatest asset.
Ultimately, losing knowledge means that your team has to spend more time trying to cover the same ground as before instead of moving forward onto new and better things.
And it’s this improvement and innovation that will ultimately determine your success or your failure.
What are you doing to stop knowledge walk out that door? Let us know in the comments!