How to Capture Tacit Knowledge 2022
Everyone knows the importance of documenting the established rules and procedures for their company. Your business certainly has a manual to give to new hires outlining everything from security protocol to appropriate workplace attire.
While this knowledge is undoubtedly crucial, it’s not the only information necessary to keep your business running smoothly. It’s just as important to be sure to capture and pass on your company’s tacit knowledge.
What is Tacit Knowledge?
In his book, The Tribal Knowledge Paradigm, Leonard Bertain defines tacit knowledge as, “The collective wisdom of the organization. It is the sum of all the knowledge and capabilities of all the people.”
More specifically, tacit knowledge is the unwritten knowledge of your company that is amassed by employees over time. It’s most often undocumented, but stored in the heads of your team passed down through your company from employee to employee.
This vital knowledge could encompass a wide range of expertise like:
- How to most effectively communicate with important clients.
- How to operate specific equipment.
- Individual strengths of various team members.
- Demographic information for particular regions.
- Where to find more coffee supplies in the office (or better yet, the best nearby coffee shop).
Why is Tacit Knowledge Important to Your Business?
Tacit knowledge is accrued by long term employees during their tenure in a company, and it’s constantly evolving. It’s often comprised of a combination of your company’s core procedures and on-the-spot problem solving as new, unexpected situations arise. This wealth of experience allows employees to remain flexible while maintaining quality standards.
While this is knowledge that can only be gained over time, once learned it can be passed down to save team members from having to go through the process time and time again. In order to provide a consistent, positive customer experience and a supportive workplace culture, tacit knowledge needs to be shared.
The Importance of Documenting Tacit Knowledge
Since tacit knowledge is gained through daily on-the-job experience, it’s very specific to your business, and documenting it has a number of benefits:
- It goes beyond standard procedures. Manuals and other best practice guides offer the important day-to-day information your employees need. But situations arise where this information won’t be sufficient. Tacit knowledge informs your team how to handle outside-the-box situations.
- It’s a training tool. Capturing your company’s tacit knowledge helps your newest team members become seasoned pros in no time, having access to years of acquired practical knowledge at their fingertips. This also relieves your senior staff from the responsibility to pass this information on to new hires.
- It increases productivity. Instant access to your company’s tacit knowledge empowers employees to problem solve quickly, reducing time spent away from their core duties.
- Documenting it prevents losing it. Since tacit knowledge is most often held by senior team members, it can be lost when those employees retire. Documenting it while they’re still on the team prevents this loss
How Can You Capture Tacit Knowledge?
- Develop a strategy to manage tacit knowledge. Before you start collecting your team’s tacit knowledge, be sure to have a platform in place for storing and sharing it.
- Identify the “knowledge holders.” Who are your team’s tacit knowledge holders? Begin with your most senior team members, but be sure to identify all employees who team members seek out for tips and advice.
- Determine what knowledge they have. This can be tricky as tacit knowledge is often deeply ingrained. Try asking these knowledge holders to document a typical day, or ask other team members to recall a time when another’s tacit knowledge was critical in their success on a task.
- Document knowledge as you go. There are many different ways to document tacit knowledge, so companies and team members should choose what works best for them. You have so many options, including audio or video recordings, an interview process, or even a written account.
Tacit knowledge doesn’t have to remain a well-kept secret known only by select team members. It can be the backbone of your team’s communication and efficiency. Making it easy to document and access your company’s tacit knowledge will help every member of your team excel.
Our team at eHire is always here to do more than connect your business with the right talent. We help equip your team with the latest information to help your team succeed. Reach out to us anytime for help finding the key players needed to grow your company.