All successful businesses, big or small, have one thing in common – Extensive business knowledge. In big organizations this knowledge can reside in entire teams, or units. In small organizations such knowledge is restricted to the people who founded the business, and maybe a few key employees that drive company strategy. In either case, scaling and sustaining organizational growth might be difficult, if the knowledge discovered, collated, and curated by the team is not stored for future reference. And that is why it is important to have Knowledge Repositories.
Before going any further, let us understand what knowledge means to a business. Business knowledge is a sum of skills, experiences, capabilities and expert insight, which you collectively create and rely on, in your business.
Knowledge can exist in many forms, but can be broadly categorized into:
- Tacit knowledge – Personal know-how or skills rooted in experience or practice (Eg. Skill, Competency, Experience).
- Explicit knowledge – Articulated knowledge recorded in documents, memos, databases, etc.
- Embedded knowledge – skills and understanding locked in processes, products, rules or organizational culture (Eg. Informal Routines, Codes of Conduct, Organizational Ethics).
Your understanding of what customers want, combined with your workers’ know-how, can be regarded as your knowledge base. Storing, searching, accessing and using this knowledge in the right way is together known as Knowledge Management (KM).
At its core, KM has important implications on decision making in an organization. Effective KM supports the process of decision making and strategic planning and makes it possible to create, transfer and apply knowledge at different levels in a coherent and productive way.
All of this is sounds great, and we can look up to major organizations such as Microsoft, Amazon, etc. for how they manage knowledge. However, implementing this in small businesses might create some challenges.
To do it right, a small business should
- Start with thorough research to find the right tools for knowledge management
- Implement these tools, without shying away or getting intimidated by new technologies
- Thorough documentation goes a long way in Knowledge Management such as developing SOPs and guidelines of workflow.
- Lastly, simple creative measures such as mentorship programs and discussions ensure effective flow of knowledge sharing and develop awareness amongst employees.
All the efforts of Knowledge Management are pointless if it is not safeguarded and backed up. A surprisingly unsettling statistic shows that 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the data disaster. In addition to replacement time and irretrievable data, catastrophic data loss can destroy client confidence, leading them to take their business elsewhere. Retrieving the data requires an embarrassing explanation, and lost data could even lead to lawsuits.
Given the risk loss of data poses, it is important for every business to have a reliable backup solution. If your business has physical servers, backing up these entire systems are critical. As a small business owner, this should not be a big task once you have a proper plan. Backups can be created using two basic methods: file level and image level. File level is perfect for backing up files and folders on your file server. Image-level backups are perfect for when you want to protect an entire system at once. Backups can be done in full, incremental or differential manner. A right backup strategy would also include backups such as Cloud Backup, Encryption of Data In-Transit, 3-2-1 Strategy, and Testing Backups.
Knowledge Management helps you run your business more efficiently, decrease business risks and exploit opportunities to the fullest. So, treat and safeguard your organizational knowledge as carefully as you would a sack of diamonds. Because it is every bit as valuable or more.
One of the most difficult tasks that an organization faces during a crisis is managing morale. In the event of a non-pandemic crisis, we would have immediately hosted events such as offsites, after-work gatherings, bake-offs, and raffles. However, the inability to bring people together, without risking their health, is making uplifting employee morale an uphill task. Here are a few things that you could do to keep your team going at times like this.
Work out a weekly plan for the team. This provides them with clear goals that they need to achieve over a finite yet not-too-short period. With their goals in sight, the team can structure their days to and work towards achieving them.
Define working hours
WFH gives us the luxury of flexible hours but procrastinating and putting work off is a side-effect that some employees may face. Along with managing deadlines, encourage the team to complete their work during office hours itself. If an employee has finished their work for the day, try not to bother them post office hours.
Encourage them to create an office like atmosphere at home
A lot of people working from home are complaining of backaches, frozen shoulders, etc. Ask them to create a work like ergonomic at home. Setting up a desk with a comfortable chair that supports their back is a good idea. They should also try and take small walks every hour. This will help them be more productive while avoiding aches and pains.
Get your human resources team to run employee engagement activities even during WFH. A weekly chai session over VC or a quiz competition are just a couple of ideas that you could use. Such events will help in keeping the team’s spirit going.
Keep Up the Human Touch
Of course, you have your numbers, targets, reports, presentations, etc., to discuss. But what really helps in keeping people motivated is keeping the human touch. Asking them, “how are you?” or “are you and your family safe during this time?”, will go a long way.
You do not have physical proximity to ensure that your team members are doing well. So, ensure to chat with them on not just work-related stuff but their wellbeing as well.
Cut them some slack
If you hear their kids, pets, parents, or spouse in the background do not get irritated, cut them some slack. All of us are juggling between managing homes and work at the same time – and it is not easy. We are dealing with such a pandemic for the first time, there may be some slips.
Focus on your employees today, they need your support. Choose to do what is right for the organisation.