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Social Knowledge Management & Social Business Strategy

Social Knowledge Management & Social Business Strategy

One of your loyal, hardworking, and trusted employees is leaving the company.

Whether it's new opportunity at a different company, going back to school, moving locations, having a baby, or any other reason, employees can leave your company at any time.

Sometimes the change is expected, and other times, it just happens out of the blue, whether it is an emergency, a personal reason or the employee was fired.

Regardless of the reason, change is underway and your company is affected.

And when people leave a company, there is often a loss of knowledge.

As an employer or manager, you may struggle to adjust to having to train a new recruit to replace your old faithful employee ... whose experience and knowledge of your company is invaluable.

So, what can you do to mitigate this risk? 

Let's take a look at a few ideas.

Knowledge is Often Locked-Up in Employee's Brains and Emails

With a traditional knowledge management system, you might just be dead in the water.

When your valued employees leave your business, you lose not only the skill and camaraderie of your collaborative team efforts, but you also lose valuable knowledge they may have learned on the job.

So much of business communication in traditional systems involves the use of email ... and when an employee leaves, that knowledge contained in those emails usually also disappears - whether it is locked or deleted.

Replacing that knowledge - both information and experience - can be costly, difficult, and time-consuming.

This traditional method of knowledge sharing that entrusts information to the brains of employees is not effective. Instead, having a method to back up, share, and retain valuable employee knowledge and experience is essential.

If you had a system for managing knowledge that enables you to save the knowledge and insight from your employees on a collaboration platform, you would have access to this rich knowledge base at any time. You could connect people, ideas and content quickly so that you can find the right people for the right projects.

When you use a system that is inherently collaborative, colleagues have immediate access to new knowledge and information is instantly shared and communicated.

This prevents knowledge from being siloed or lost.

This method of sharing, saving, and creating knowledge within a collaborative platform online is the essential structure of an effective social knowledge management system.

Social Business as an Effective Strategy

Social business consists of optimizing the method by which a company operates to benefit its entire ecosystem, ranging from owners to management, employees and clients.

Creating a culture of collaboration is essential to this process, helping people be more effective in their work, share their knowledge and communicate well.

Social software is a highly effective tool but it will not make the company successful alone. It requires active participation by people within the company to be effective and to truly leverage its potential.

In essence, social software helps companies be more effective by making work easier through swift access to relevant information when needed and encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Avoid Reinventing the Wheel

You can avoid reinventing the wheel when an employee leaves, because the information gathered and created with that employee stays at your company even after he or she leaves.

How do you retain valuable employee knowledge?

The answer is using an effective social knowledge management system to collect, share and retain valuable employee insight, work and ideas.

An effective social knowledge management system should be an essential part of your social business strategy.

Easy Access to Information - When You Need It, How You Need It

Social knowledge management systems offer easy access to different versions of files and editing options, they show comments, feedback, and updates in real time.

For many businesses that use traditional or old-school knowledge management systems, sharing and archiving information primarily consists of heavy usage of email and a file sharing system.

Knowledge management for many businesses is declining because it is not defined.

This file sharing system, if online, often consists of just a storage space where files are essentially dumped. They are not organized beyond being placed in folders and hence seeing files simultaneously or pulling up all the relevant information on a specific topic can easily become cumbersome as well as ineffective.

These systems do not allow for easy access to different versions of the same document or project in process nor do they show notes and feedback.

Knowledge can easily become siphoned off to just a few individuals, creating information silos and bottlenecks as well as preventing better decision-making that stems from accurate and thorough information.

Streamline Knowledge Management

When you use a social knowledge management system, your business benefits from having a single platform to access, share and create information.

You can archieve all employee expertise and experience automatically as soon as employees create and share information.

The information posted within your social knowledge management system is immediately searchable.

Social Business Ties into Online Marketing Strategy

In a previous post, we took a closer look at how social business fits into your online marketing strategy by accelerating branding, generating leads and sales, engaging customers and nurturing leads, as well as increasing customer retention and improving customer service.

The benefits of having a social business are substantial.

How do you get your company to work socially? Below are five suggested steps.

Five Steps to Facilitating Your Business Working Socially

1. Identify Your Vision

It helps to identify what you wish to accomplish.

Perhaps your goal is to increase transparency, or maybe you are looking for a way to simplify editing and versioning of documents.

You may want to break down communication barriers that happen when knowledge is siphoned off into emails and are looking for ways to encourage open knowledge sharing and innovative ideas.

Whether your goal is to increase efficiency, speed up communication, simplify knowledge sharing, increase transparency, or all of the above, it is important to identify your purpose first before you enact your social business strategy.

2. Figure out how your strategy works with your business values

What are your business values?

What is your USP - unique selling proposition?

Is it to be innovative and offer original products or services?

Does your company offer convenience and lower prices?

Is your company flexible, offering numerous options to customers?

Identify what your key strengths are and what you want your company to be associated with. These elements constitute your key values and your social business strategy (and any other business strategy that you implement) must align with and strengthen these values.

You will be able to communicate more effectively with your clients when you clearly identify these core values and build your strategy around them.

With a social business strategy, you immediately gain insight from tapping into the expertise of your company network. You gain valuable insight, feedback, and inspire new ideas through the engagement of your social business network.

3. Link Your Strategy with Realized Impact

Your social business strategy must tie into results or the impact you have or want to have.

Perhaps the immediate result that you want to see in your business is faster response rates as information becomes accessible and your staff responds to customers quicker.

As you enable employees and clients to engage, you create an open culture, encourage ownership among employees and build loyalty among both staff and clients.

A collaborative platform also enables your human capital to share knowledge and insight easily, spurring engagement and innovative ideas.

This all builds brand loyalty internally, while also facilitating employee empowerment and productivity.

4. Put Your Strategy to Work

After you have a) defined your goals for your social business strategy, b) empowered your team to engage socially, and c) identified the impact you want to have, it is time to implement your social knowledge management system.

Ideally the system that you choose will have a robust collaboration platform along with a enterprise-level social network, using features that you are familiar with and your staff can quickly learn.

It is essential that the system you choose is easy to use with intuitive tools.

When you put your strategy into place, your new social software should enable you to streamline communications into one single, collaborative platform that is easy and enjoyable to use.

Your entire team can quicky share and communicate using this system and it becomes a natural aspect of daily work.

5. Review and Adapt

After you have initiated your strategy, it is helpful to periodically evaluate successes and failures, and adapt accordingly.

When you change your organization's culture to be more social, you are transforming the way that people engage and even your operational process. This change can take some time and adjustment.

It helps to pay attention and see what is working and what needs to change so that you can assist employees or clients that need help and improve your strategy to meet your goals and have the impact you desire for your company.

An effective and successful social business strategy requires the active participation of leadership, easy-to-use and robust social software, and periodic reviews to improve and evolve.

Leading by example, a company executive, manager, or owner can quickly engage employees to come on board with a new communications platform.

It is advisable to persist and work out any problems that arise.

Your social business strategy is working when your knowledge management system is accessible, highly functional, and collaborative.

You will notice results -- such as increased productivity and a more effective operations process with happier, engaged employees and satisfied clients when your social business strategy is implemented well.

 

A Guide to Understanding Knowledge Management

 

Tim Eisenhauer
Written by Tim Eisenhauer

Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions and author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. He’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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