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Establishing a Successful Knowledge Documentation Program

Critical industry knowledge might be permanently lost as tenured Energy and Utilities (E&U) employees across the country continue to retire at an extraordinary pace. Additionally, the highly specialized nature of utility work makes training new employees to fill these roles particularly challenging.

One way to mitigate this risk and retain essential knowledge is to establish a knowledge documentation program focused on capturing sole performers’ unique knowledge. However, knowledge documentation can be challenging and time consuming. So before you get started, here are some key considerations that will help you get the highest possible ROI: 

Make it Proactive and Repeatable. Don’t wait until someone gives their notice. Take the time up-front to develop prioritization, methodology and reusable templates.

Prioritize Clearly. Target sole performers based on the criticality of their role as well as their tenure. The prioritization criteria should be objective and clear.

Assign Adequate Resources. Make sure to assign qualified resources, such as business process analysts, to provide support. Partner with the employees’ managers to align on scope, allocate sufficient time and ensure deliverables will meet expectations. Asking an employee to document their own knowledge “in their spare time” without support or structure will inevitably lead to frustration.

Show Empathy and Patience. Help employees understand why they are selected and why capturing knowledge is crucial. Some will be eager to share their hard-earned wisdom, while others may see this as a threat and exhibit resistant behavior. Make it clear that knowledge documentation does not mean their job is in jeopardy.

Don’t try to Document Everything. Focus on unique knowledge – things only they know. If another employee performs the same or similar work, documenting it may not be a priority. Don’t forget to document an employee’s network (who they work with or get information from) and where they store important files and information.

Transfer the Knowledge at the Same Time. When possible, involve another employee who is newer or from another team – this can serve as a fantastic training opportunity.

Ask for Feedback and Adjust Regularly. Getting a program stood up takes time, but asking for and applying the lessons learned from each knowledge documentation will help drive incremental improvement.

Just as you invest in maintaining physical infrastructure, it’s critical not to neglect your intellectual infrastructure. Knowledge documentation can be an important tool for creating a resilient and future-focused organization.

 

To learn more about how Unify can help your organization establish an effective Knowledge Documentation program, please reach out to us at hello@unifyconsulting.com.

Visit our Energy & Utilities page to learn more.