We’ve all been there. We identify a problem, we do our research, and we invest in a technology solution to solve that problem. But then what? Far too often, the solutions we purchase never take off, employees never learn to use them (or use them correctly), and your company is left with wasted resources and the same problem you originally set out to solve.
We don’t want your knowledge sharing platform to be another plot in your company’s software graveyard. Here are four common knowledge sharing mistakes and how to head them off so your team continues actively sharing, searching, and identifying the information they need.
Outdated, Irrelevant, and Duplicate Content
The more content is not always the merrier when it comes to managing your knowledge sharing platform. Outdated, irrelevant, or duplicate content only serves to add clutter to your platform and make it harder for your employees to find the information they need, right when they need it, to do their jobs.
This problem can be easily solved with a spring (and summer, fall, and winter) cleaning. Every quarter, dedicate a day or two to evaluating all of the content in your knowledge sharing platform.
In a spreadsheet, divide content between the members of all relevant teams. Each employee involved should evaluate the content assigned to them and mark it in the spreadsheet as either green (leave content as is), yellow (the content is necessary but needs to be updated), or red (the content is no longer relevant and should be archived), and act accordingly.
Before everyone begins color coding their content, make sure you have an agreed-upon set of criteria. For example, you may agree that all content over a year old needs to be either updated or deleted. This best practice will ensure that tip-top content resides in your knowledge sharing platform for minimal effort each quarter.
Q&A functionality within a knowledge sharing platform won’t do you much good if users aren’t answering the questions their co-workers post. And there’s no better way to frustrate people who have posted questions than to let those questions go unanswered for days.
If people don’t get the answers they need through your knowledge sharing platform, they’ll revert to the tactics they were using before. They might send an email to a subject matter expert or tap the shoulder of a knowledgeable team member. They’ll get the information they need this way, but it won’t be available to other co-workers who might have the same questions.
When you start using a new knowledge sharing platform, consider creating an internal service-level agreement (SLA) that will establish a timeframe in which all questions should be answered. This will make expectations clear from the start and help prevent questions from collecting dust.
Another way to encourage engagement with the Q&A tool is to make it as easy as possible for users to answer questions. For example, you could look for a platform that sends email or Slack notifications when a new question is posted so that no one misses the memo (or feels like they have to check the platform every hour for new updates). You could also look for a platform that lets you tag specific users in posts so they know when their expertise is needed.
All Work and No Play
All work and no play makes your employees, well, hate work. Add some fun to your knowledge sharing platform by creating categories and polls specifically for social purposes. Does your company have a fantasy football league? A wine and cheese club? A solid population of cat enthusiasts? Your knowledge sharing platform is a great place to organize events, socialize, and unite employees to keep them engaged.
One great way to get more team members using the social features of your knowledge sharing platform is to find an executive champion who will lead by example.
The executive could post short weekly videos with a company culture-related update, write a shout out to an employee who has achieved something great, or ask employees to try out a new product and share their feedback. It won’t take much of the leader’s time, and it will show team members that there’s buy-in at the top.
Just Because You Built It Does Not Mean They Will Come
It’s very likely that your employees already have access to a cluttered and frustrating file cabinet, email inbox, or Dropbox. They don’t need another repository where content goes to die. To maximize the ROI of your knowledge sharing platform, you must make the platform worth your employees’ while, or it will enter the graveyard of under-utilized software taking up valuable space and resources.
So how do you get your employees or team members to use a new knowledge sharing platform? Show them how it makes their lives easier.
Invest in a knowledge sharing platform with an extensive system of categories and tags (including automated tagging), and hold regular trainings on using those features correctly. Accurately tagging and categorizing information in your knowledge sharing platform renders that content easily searchable and accessible to all who need it (effectively putting an end to hours of searching through old emails to find one document).
Effectively managing a knowledge sharing platform doesn’t have to be hard. Avoid the four common knowledge sharing mistakes above to keep your team members engaged, your content up-to-date, and your workplace fun.