better to develop, manage, exploit and protect our employee know-how

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Introduction

The purpose of my report is to suggest measures to the company's board of directors which consider adopting in order better to develop, manage, exploit and protect our employee know-how. My suggestions will be shown in a business word report. The report will be focussed on Knowledge Management.

Background and context

To give you a general idea about knowledge management, I have given you a brief description of what it is and facts surrounding it.

Data, Information and Knowledge

  • Data is simply raw facts and figures
  • Information is a collection of data (facts and figures) with meaning.
  • Knowledge is basically information with given direction which normally results in action.
Knowledge Management
  • Knowledge about the company
  • Knowledge about customers
  • Knowledge about the company's business processes

Knowledge management is the explicit and systematic management of vital knowledge and its associated processes of creating, gathering, organising, diffusion, use and exploitation, in pursuit of organisational objectives. Two most common types of KM, tacit and explicit.

Explicit knowledge is knowledge that individuals are able to express quite simply using language or other forms of communication (e.g. visuals, sounds, movement)

Tacit Knowledge is collected knowledge that cannot be transferred easily. It can be attained through dialogue, job shadowing, storytelling, and sharing of best practices and lessons learned.

Intellectual Capital

Intellectual capital is the value, or potential value, of an organisation's intellectual assets (or knowledge assets). An attempt by organisations to place a financial value on their knowledge. There are three types of intellectual capital, human capital, structural capital and customer capital. I feel Human and structural capital can help resolve our problem.

Human capital can be defined as "activities that influence monetary and psychic income by increasing the resources in people".

Structural capital involves the usual trademarks that support employee productivity (internet, computers, desks etc). But when they have finished work, they leave everything behind and go home.

Why would Knowledge Management and Intellectual Capital Matter?

Knowledge Management matters due to the benefits it can offer our organisation. One of the main reasons that it matters to our organisation is that it can enhance employee retention rates by realising how valuable the employee's knowledge is and rewarding them for it. Also improving the flow of knowledge, this can decrease redundancy for our workers and in the long run increase productivity. The most important reason for knowledge management is that it is the best way to exploit and transfer tacit knowledge.

Intellectual capital is important as there important advantages of adopting Human, structural and customer capital strategies that could help us with the problem we are currently facing.

Human capital consists of taking care of the employees, by valuing them highly. If done correctly it can motivate employees and create a good working environment.

Structural capital is when employees finish work they leave all there working worries with their equipment, in the office. Allowing them to have less stress on the mind.

Recommendations

I have three main recommendations; the first is to adopt the human and strategic capital concept with our employees, so they feel a level of importance, feel valued and less stressed as when they finish work they can leave stress problems related to work in the working environment. Secondly is to invest in personnel with Knowledge management expertise. This is so that knowledge can be developed, managed, exploited and protected correctly and efficiently. Lastly is to bring knowledge sharing into our working environment so that tacit knowledge can be used to its potential and therefore benefit the organisation.

Develop

I feel the best way to develop employee know-how is to use two main methods. Training and skill alignment can be used to develop new skills and manage knowledge. Skill alignment is something that can be used to align our employee's skills to our organisations needs. Veterans (our workers with numerous years of experience) can supervise in order to help and give their own advice to our new employees. Training can keep our employees sharp, learn new information and skill alignment ensures that the correct people are working on the correct tasks giving to them. If we could introduce an E-learning system within the organisation, it would allow our workers to learn skills and knowledge, an E-learning system can contain chat forums, expert-led discussions, virtual classroom sessions and much more. Excelling at knowledge management will allow us to allocate tasks to the correct workers.

Manage

Managing employee know-how (tacit knowledge) is not an easy thing to do as it comes from within the mind of each one of our employees. Two things that are essential to managing employee know-how are trust and good people management. If trust is established between employees and they are being mentored by people with good knowledge management skills and experience, managing can be made easier and can be more effective. There are many methods which can be used to manage employee know-how and they tend to be based around working with others. Knowledge sharing events are a great way of managing. Brainstorming with fellow peers with diverse skills can help as long as everyone remains focussed on the topic and ideas are encouraged. Cognitive maps are also a great way of generating great concepts and ideas.

Exploit

A good way to exploit our employees would be to maximise knowledge sharing throughout our company, doing this can exploit tacit knowledge and can increase explicit knowledge.

If knowledge can be shared, then tasks and decisions won't be repeated. This can save time and save costly errors. It also will stop duplication of effort within the organisation, instead of two people doing the same task, making the same product or one person doing a task that's already been completed; they can be doing another task which will maximise productivity. One of the most important benefits of sharing knowledge is so that mistakes can be learnt from. Increasing knowledge flow through our working environment by sharing can motivate employees as people can listen to their concept and ideas and this will make them feel valued. There are numerous ways to increase knowledge sharing, from having an intranet, creating a social network within our organisation or communities of practice.

Protect

Due to turnover being high, knowledge sharing is something that can protect knowledge. Although we can't stop someone leaving with knowledge from within our organisation, at least knowledge can be retained. Specialisation is something that can damage us. If one of our specialists leaves and due to them specifically working within a significant role, only know a certain type or content of knowledge, if their knowledge has not been shared we are left with a hole within the organisation.

Training can be used to enforce knowledge sharing, letting employees know how to share knowledge and how to do it safely. Standards and norms can be developed in order to ensure that knowledge is protected within our corporation.

Potential barriers

There are numerous barriers that could occur when trying to implement Knowledge Management into our organisation, there are numerous barriers than can appear.

The People

For knowledge to be shared successfully, our employees must trust one another. If they don't then they won't feel comfortable sharing their concepts and ideas.

Its general behaviour for people to want their friends to succeed and people they don't get along with or have competition with to fail, this can have an effect on their information-sharing behaviour.

Sometimes what can block sharing is extra effort it takes to share knowledge with strangers or workers in a different department of an organisation. Sometimes it can require extra documentation which may seem like too much effort just to share thoughts.

The Organisation

As we have such a large organisation, implementing the changes quickly may create a disorganised knowledge management system and having a disorganised KM system is ineffective and could be a waste of time and money.

Increasing Staff inconsistency rates are normally due to the high demand for quality trained skilled and experienced personnel. A low amount of motivation/reward schemes can also contribute to staff turnover. It's very influential on KM implementation. The loss of our knowledge through our staff inconsistency is a critical blow of knowledge management.

Technology

The role of technology can't be overlooked. Lack of technological infrastructure is one of the barriers in implementation of KM. Having a good technical foundation provides a stronger platform to KM and enhances its impact in an organisation. The wide varieties of technology such as business intelligence, knowledge bases etc can Support KM activities and the selection of appropriate technology improves the performance of businesses.

Removing Barriers

Below are recommendations on how our organisation can remove or avoid the barriers that may/will occur when implementing KM.

Removing the people barriers

To remove the general behaviour barrier of people with our organisation, social interaction should be increased within every department and different departments such increase their interaction in order to boost employee working relationships.

If our employees can get to know others in the organisations, friendships are likely to form and trust will begin to grow within the organisation, this should mean that knowledge sharing should increase and the common goal of our organisation doing well will motivate employees to get along. This can help to form a family organisation culture.

Removing the organisation barriers

To overcome this, employing personnel with a large amount of KM experience would be the first step. Implementing KM into the organisation slowly in order for it to be fully efficient would be better than no KM at all. Suitable realistic targets can be set up by the new personnel and the organisation can work towards those targets.

To gain most consistent staff rates and lower turnover, incentives should be offered to our employees. Whether it is chances for promotion, or wage bonuses. Depending on whether there theory x or theory y workers should determine what type of incentive is offered. This will keep them continually interested in us and will limit the likelihood of them moving to our competitors.

Removing the technology barriers

Introducing technology is something that can be done to enhance the use of KM in our organisation, whether it is E-Learning or an intranet. An investment should be made into technology so it can support the KM implementation and speed up the process. Asking employees on what technology should be bought may increase motivation as they will feel involved and it's them that will be trained to use it. Otherwise seeking external consultancy will be a good idea so that money is not wasted and is used efficiently.

Conclusion

I conclude that knowledge management is the most effective way to improve employee know-how, sharing information within the organisation has multiple benefits (the most being the transfer and exploiting of tacit knowledge), all of which should affect our organisation and our employees positively.

In terms of decreasing the employee turnover, adopting human and structural capital is something that will help them to remain with us, as long as reasonable incentives are put in place for the employees. Valuing the employees highly, will give them a sense of belonging and should create a good working environment. Structural capital will allow them to put in as much work between working hours, knowing that when they finish the day they won't have to think about work until they are next in.

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