Knowledge Management – The key to managing your IT heroes
In the first article in this series, we talked about the IT superhero – those wonderful people who race in and save the day, leaving happy customers in their wake.
Now let’s look at how you recognize an IT superhero in the wild, and then think about what we can do to mitigate the risk they pose to the organization.
Spotting a hero
The first place to look is probably in the mirror! What would the business do if you just didn’t come back to work tomorrow? Would someone be able to step instantly into your shoes and know just what to do? Would the business even notice that you had gone?
If you have done your job well, no-one outside of your immediate co-workers should know that you have gone, because that means that you have equipped your team with the wisdom and knowledge they need to carry on without you.
Everybody’s first responsibility at work should be to make sure that they are 100 percent replaceable.
Recognizing heroes in your team can be a little bit harder; occasionally heroes do like to fly under the radar. But just ask yourself a simple question as you scan the room – is there anyone there who makes you think – “you better not win the lottery tomorrow” or someone who you dread going on holiday. If you can picture somebody now, then they are your target, your single points of human failure, the people who the business relies on and without whom things can quickly go wrong, and go wrong very badly.
Once you have identified your trouble spots, now is the time to do something about it. Act now, before it is too late. You have been lucky that nothing catastrophic has happened to your heroes already – or maybe it has, and that is why you are searching for a solution now!
How do you rid your IT organization of superheroes?
The answer is quite simple – you need to have a robust and manageable program of knowledge management. But while the solutions are easy to identify, it is often not so easy to implement because your heroes like being heroes and, more often than not they do not want to change the way they do things now. They like the way being a hero makes them feel and the way the customers love them.
You can come up with the best knowledge management process in the world, but if it is going to be circumvented by unhappy people, then it is not worth anything. You can try to force compliance by brandishing a big stick, but the chances are that this will just make things worse and will force your heroes out the door, probably before they have documented their knowledge.
The massive change in behaviour that introducing a knowledge sharing culture requires cannot be underestimated. It is not about tools and process it is about people and attitudes, and if you get that wrong, then you will lose the battle.
In the final article in this series, we will look at strategies aimed at getting your heroes onboard with a knowledge sharing initiative.