Q&A: Managing a new knowledge management strategy when your team won’t buy in

In our recent webinar, Creating Institutional KM Change that Sticks, our expert panel shared lessons learned in implementing new knowledge programs.

In this series of posts, Jennifer Crippen, Senior Consultant at DB Kay & Associates, and Dave Cutler, VP of Customer Success at Venafi, are joined by Irrevo’s Knowledge Strategists, Melissa Burch and Laurel Poertner to respond in detail to the questions our audience shared during our Q&A session.

How do you deal with individuals or teams who don’t want to use the “single source of truth” and maintain their own sources of info? Do you push them into your KM flow, or meet them halfway and encourage them to share what they have developed?

Melissa Burch:

Luckily, within organizations there are always more who are eager to participate than those who actively resist. Acknowledge those who are participating in knowledge sharing as you have visualized. Put the spotlight on those individuals and teams by publicly acknowledging their contributions toward the strategic objectives. Leave those who are not cooperating out of these conversations. Take advantage of the natural tendency of people to want to be accepted and acknowledged. Keep messages coming with consistent messages that articulate the vision and strategic direction. Soon you will see fewer and fewer team members who resist the changes you are visualizing.

I would add a caution though. If there continues to be individuals and teams who are actively resist, then you need to step back and evaluate the organization with a critical eye. Evaulate as objectively possible and look for the common mistakes made by leaders. Are they guilty of losing focus too quickly? Have communication and messaging been consistent and frequent enough to be effective? Does everyone understand their role in meeting the strategic objectives of the organization? Do the measures used by the organization align to these new strategic direction? It is never too late to adapt. Persistence is the most important leadership characteristic in times of change.

Laurel Poertner: 

It may be more about timing than anything. If the KM program is relatively new and the single source is still ramping up, you may want to give them more time to see the value. Ask yourself what outcome you are trying to achieve. Is it to bring new employees up to speed faster? Is it giving customers more resources and information before they call support? Focus on the outcome and how the team or individuals can impact that. Find the “What’s in it for me” answer to help them see the value for themselves. Once they do, they will freely share and move knowledge into the single source.

Learn More

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar. Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new answers.


The one person who can make or break your new knowledge program

The best laid plans of knowledge managers oft go astray, as the saying goes. It doesn’t have to be that way. Strategic planning up front that takes into consideration the pitfalls you’ll likely encounter greatly improves your success.

We asked the panelists for our recent webinar, Creating Institutional KM Change That Sticks, to share their thoughts on one essential question that’ll keep your change on track:

Who’s the most important person to have on your side as you implement a change? 

Melissa Burch, Knowledge Strategist, Irrevo:

Lasting change within an organization relies heavily on the ability of executive leaders to convey the strategic direction they are taking. It is difficult for team members to understand why they are doing something in a different way if they are not able to visualize the connection to the bigger picture. Successful change initiatives are ones where the executive leaders make those connections very clear to everyone. The messages from the executive leadership team need to be consistent and continuous to solidify the change into the muscle memory of the organization. Without the consistent involvement and support of the executive leaders, change initiatives will struggle to achieve results.

Jennifer Crippen, Senior Consultant, DB Kay & Associates:

The curators and consumers of the knowledge are the people I would make sure to have aligned and bought in to the plan and vison. That’s important to making it stick because when you get them to participate in the planning and decision making they gain a vested interest in seeing it come to fruition.

Dave Cutler, VP of Customer Success, Venafi:

In my opinion, the support analysts are the most important people to ‘win over’ to improve a knowledge management program, and it takes a focused effort to educate & engage each of those individuals so they become ‘converted’ to a new way of thinking in order to create lasting change.

Laurel Poertner, Knowledge Strategist, Irrevo:

It is hard to pick just one because like any team, if one group doesn’t pull their weight, it can fall apart. Many would say the Executive Sponsor is paramount to making a lasting change but the middle managers directly leading the knowledge workers have a greater impact. This group has one of the toughest jobs because they need to promote the change while keeping up with customer demands to show a smooth transition. There is tremendous pressure coming from all sides to allow the knowledge workers additional time to train and ramp up plus pressure from customers to keep services levels from dropping. These leaders need to see that their effort will bring value for their teams.

To hear more on this topic, and other tips on implementing change within your knowledge program, watch the recording of our webinar, Creating Institutional KM Change That Sticks.

4 Strategies to make your Knowledge Management changes stick

Why is it that people often say, “third time’s a charm”?  What is magic about the third time a program is implemented that it generally “sticks”?  Do we have to go through the pain and suffering of failing the first two times after spending all the time and effort to gain enthusiasm and momentum only to have it fall off after six months or so?

These are questions that many executives and directors wonder as they discuss ways to make sure their visions around Knowledge Management are carried out. Here are a few strategies on avoiding the pitfalls you’ll likely encounter when you launch a new KM program, or make dramatic changes to your existing program.  We explore these and other methods in more detail in our recorded webinar, Creating Institutional KM Change that Sticks.

Getting the right people involved

org_change_happen_fasterManagers and leaders are often told that if you build it they will come.  This way of thinking does not typically work for implementing and sustaining a valuable and successful knowledge management program.  People who want to participate need to know they have people they can trust that will care for their knowledge to make sure it gets into the right hands.  They also want to see that it is making a difference for customers.  Find people in your organization that want to take on the responsibility of being the caregivers of the organization’s collective knowledge.  Then give them the authority, budget and priority to make it accessible and valuable to all that use it.

What’s in it for me?

Knowledge comes from within.  We choose to share it and if we don’t see a reason to share, we won’t.  Managers often turn to incentives to entice people to share their knowledge to keep a program moving but it results only in short-term gains.  Competition between teammates may spike knowledge sharing participation at first but there needs to be a more compelling reason to sustain it long-term.  Not to mention executives can’t afford to keep handing out incentives indefinitely.  The value of sharing one’s knowledge must be realized by the people contributing and the way to do that is make it as visible as possible, like:

  • Publish customer testimonials on how knowledge has helped them.
  • Post positive KM metric trends to show team members their impact on the ecosystem
  • Talk with individual knowledge contributors about their positive experiences and post them for all employees to see

Managing the pace of change for sustained growth

Part of making change stick is having patience. It takes 12 weeks for the brain to develop a new habit so make sure goals and objectives are realistic.  Communicate the progress and focus on the positive changes. Then, establish a good pace that team members feel comfortable with.  It is a good idea to get input from various teams when establishing long-term goals and milestones to get the buy-in needed to keep it going.

Unite and align for a common cause

The new Knowledge Management program should be part of every meeting, conversation and communication.  Metrics are the best way to start conversations around knowledge. They need to be top of mind from the CEO down to the individual knowledge contributor.  Align team and individual objectives with program outcomes by adding them to performance reviews and quarterly company objectives.  Managers should discuss KM program process in weekly meetings and executives should set aside time during quarterly operations reviews to focus on the KM program.

These are just a few ways to create a KM program change that will be long-lasting and successful. Watch our recorded webinar to hear more from a panel of experts who have successfully executed institutional KM changes within their organizations.