Every action an employee takes is guided by the professional knowledge they’ve gathered throughout their education, career, or tenure with your company. And when employees are more knowledgeable, they’ll make better-informed decisions that help your organization achieve its goals.
But how do you know every member of your workforce has the knowledge they need to do their best? In many cases, business leaders don’t realize employees lack critical knowledge until they’ve made a costly mistake. And that’s why it’s vital you find, analyze, and fill knowledge gaps.
Knowledge gaps are discrepancies between what employees know and what your company needs them to know. And if your company doesn’t have a reliable process for identifying those gaps, they can impede productivity, hinder cross-team communication, and negatively impact the employee experience (and your bottom line).
Here are three ways knowledge managers can quickly diagnose and close employee knowledge gaps before they cause additional challenges:
Perform a Knowledge Audit
A great place to start when identifying knowledge gaps is to perform a knowledge audit. This is a thorough investigation of the information within your company, how it’s stored, and how you maintain it.
Unlike a content audit, which analyzes all content your company has created, a knowledge audit examines how employees leverage knowledge content. It also helps you better understand whether you have any areas of opportunity in your knowledge gathering, sharing, and management processes.
There are five steps to a knowledge audit:
1. Clarify your objectives
Why are you doing a knowledge audit, and what do you hope to achieve? For example, you may want to craft a knowledge management strategy, identify wants and needs for your knowledge management platform, or determine where to focus your knowledge documentation efforts.
2. Assemble an audit team
Loop in a few stakeholders from various departments or teams to help you better understand all the knowledge within your organization. Having a variety of perspectives will shed light on how other teams compile and use knowledge.
3. Inventory existing knowledge
Catalog the knowledge within your organization and where it lives. This information may exist within your company’s intranet and shared drives, or platforms used for internal department documentation. You may also field and analyze questionnaires and conduct subject matter expert interviews.
4. Examine the flow of knowledge
Review your knowledge inventory and evaluate how that knowledge is transferred between systems and people. Pay special attention to how and where employees access information and who shares it.
5. Identify obstacles and knowledge gaps
Pinpoint potential gaps, such as duplication issues or whether knowledge assets are spread across disparate systems. You’ll also want to identify whether there are any systems or processes some groups don’t know about or if anyone is hoarding knowledge that’s unavailable to other employees.
Once you have a better idea of where knowledge gaps exist within your organization, you can set to work creating new assets and improving access.
Support and Facilitate Knowledge Sharing Across the Organization
In addition to completing a knowledge audit, you’ll also want to give employees an opportunity to share what they need. And that’s where a knowledge management solution with a Q&A tool comes in handy. This way, employees can ask questions when they cannot find the information or assets they’re seeking, and you can use that information to spot gaps.
For example, suppose there are several drafts of a customer service call script, and reps aren’t sure which PDF is the final version. Or perhaps the sales and marketing teams have a revised process for lead hand-offs, but it’s only shared via word-of-mouth, and no one has clued in the newest team member. These questions can help knowledge managers zero in on what’s missing and quickly meet employees’ needs with relevant content.
Additionally, knowledge managers using Bloomfire can even run a report of all unanswered questions in the platform to see where knowledge gaps exist and identify which subject matter experts are best qualified to address them.
Use Data to Identify and Fill Gaps
Beyond finding unanswered questions, a knowledge management platform can also help you analyze user behavior and identify trends in knowledge usage. For example, you can discover which types of content receive the most engagement and examine the most frequently searched terms. If there’s something people are searching for that doesn’t yet exist, you’ll know to prioritize creating that asset.
To make this easier, Bloomfire shows which common search terms aren’t generating results, thereby highlighting existing knowledge gaps, so you know where to focus your energy.
Once you’ve identified your knowledge gaps, the next phase will be developing new resources or updating existing resources to close them. By staying on top of discrepancies between the information employees have now, and what you need them to know, you can avoid inefficiencies and prevent knowledge silos from forming.
By making sure all employees have the knowledge they need when they need it most, you can improve the employee experience and help your organization meet its objectives.