A valuable route to business success
By Rhys Madoc, CEO, UHY International
How do you ensure that people in every part of your organisation have the knowledge they need to do their jobs well? The short answer is, with difficulty.
A lot of information is documented. It is written down and stored in files and folders, on paper and digitally. In this case, sharing knowledge is a management challenge.
- Is it easy to find?
- Do the people who need it know it is there and have access to it?
- Can it be easily revised and updated over time?
- Where does the responsibility lie and who has ownership for updating these documents?
- What governance is needed?
There need to be formalised processes in place to make sure all this happens, or the risk is, that it will not. Often, there are legal requirements around storing and sharing certain types of information.
THE VALUE OF EXPERIENCE
Sharing knowledge is not easy because knowledge is, by its nature, diverse, fragmented, always changing and often inaccessible. For example, if a nugget of relevant information about a great promotional opportunity is hidden away in your lead partner’s mind, what happens when they retire?
These informal, undocumented and often highly valuable tips and tricks evolve organically and in response to real business challenges. They are the value of experience, tested by time and proven to be effective.
What kind of knowledge do I mean? It might be knowing the time of day when a major client is most receptive to a phone call. It might be an effective exercise for promoting remote team engagement. It might be insight into the nuances of business culture in a cross-border market.
This is the kind of information that lubricates the cogs and wheels of business and is easily lost when employees leave or retire. Even if they stay, too often organisations do not have processes in place to share this kind of applicable insight across departments or teams. That limits its effectiveness. It may be highly valuable, but if it is siloed it cannot be put to wider use.
As a global network, we understand the complexities of sharing knowledge across an organisation, and we know its benefits. We distribute more formal information, such as the kind of technical knowledge a professional services network must continually share and develop, in the usual ways, for example through a comprehensive digital archive available on our intranet. We also organise a calendar of national, regional and global meetings at which expert speakers from inside and outside the network share specialist knowledge. We run a yearly timetable of educational webinars and internal newsletters.
It is fundamental to UHY that our member firms share insight across borders, allowing them to serve international clients more effectively.
We use mentoring to disseminate the knowhow that is accumulated by experience. We encourage secondments across the network so that individuals get to try new ways of
working, experience business culture in other countries and bring that knowledge back to their firms.
We work to promote continual communication, within and between the member firms in our network. Regional and international events create a collaborative environment. Special interest groups bring together colleagues with similar specialisms. We hope and expect that conversations which begin when colleagues come together, continue, in other forms, when they return to their firms.
Sharing knowledge and knowhow can be complex, and requires different channels for different kinds of information. Do it in the way that best suits your circumstances - whether through digital knowledge centres, informal chats, training sessions, secondments or anything else - but do it. The continual communication of knowledge is the key to success.