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Tips to Encourage Collaboration Between Learning and Knowledge Teams

Friday, March 6, 2015
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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
—Proverb

If you’ve been in in the training industry for at least a few years, you’ve likely heard this Proverb used several times. It’s what we are asked to do each day. Put someone in the classroom (or online), teach him a skill, get him to perform it successfully, and send him off into the world with a “good luck.” Lately, it seems that we are being asked to push learners out the door more quickly, with less time and fewer resources. So, how can we achieve the training goal while still minding the budget?

The best place to start is by thinking beyond a learning event. Classroom and online learning are still needed, but we must help learners to tap into all of the other resources available to them beyond that one-time event. We know there are moments during the day when employees need additional information to do their jobs, whether it’s answering a customer question, validating a completed task, or learning about a new procedure. If you can’t be there for every employee every time she needs to learn or re-learn, who can? Enter, the knowledge team.

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The knowledge team should already be familiar to you because its members supply your team with the tasks, steps, and procedures on which you train employees. They are the keepers of subject-matter knowledge and the support for your learners after training. Let’s be honest—a learner is not going to remember step six of the third process for completing task A, which she reviewed in a classroom more than 30 days ago. Both the learning and knowledge teams have the same goals—enabling your employees and organization to be successful. Have you ever stopped to think about how the two teams might be able to partner together to support each other’s work? Here are some ideas:

  • Have a meeting of the minds. There are misconceptions on both sides of the teams. The learning team may view the knowledge team as the “hoarder” of knowledge, processes, and details. The knowledge team may perceive the learning team as the “marketer” of knowledge—prettying up all of its hard work. Use a meeting between the two teams to really talk about what each team does and the common goals shared between the two.
  • Select a project on which to partner. With a common understanding of the end goal, learn from each other, starting with a specific project. The learning team will need to train the learner to search for the knowledge. The knowledge team should think about how to ensure that it is providing enough context and information for the learner to be competent. Both sides need to ask tough questions:
    • What has the learning team heard from learners about how processes work in the real world? Are they too wordy? Are they working?
    • What has the knowledge team heard from employees about the learning event? Was it enough? Too much?
  • Be willing to shift. Joining to understand where each team is coming from will help the teams better support the employees/learners and the organization. “This is the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t work in business today. You need to be willing to shift, change, and grow.

The opportunities that can come from a partnership between the knowledge and learning teams are boundless. Each team shares one goal—to help employees grow and sustain their knowledge.
Would you like to know how to build this partnership and achieve exceptional results? Learn more from our March issue of TD at Work, “Ensuring Success Through Learning and Knowledge Sharing” or register for an upcoming Knowledge Management Certificate program.

About the Author

A life-long learner, Emily has spent her entire career enhancing her skills in the training industry. Much of her focus has been spent on eLearning design and development, and most recently, she has been exploring the connection between knowledge management and learning. Emily is an Enablement Designer at Anaplan. She and her husband live in Minneapolis.

About the Author

For more than two decades, Dr. Adam Krob has studied how to use knowledge management practices to uncover and deliver tangible, long-lasting value for organizations. His work focuses on how sharing knowledge across organizations can increase productivity for entire teams and decrease the time to competency for new team members. He also studies how improved knowledge sharing can enhance practices like ITIL, COBIT and Agile and can fit into organizations like sales engineering, professional services, learning and development, human resources, and customer/technical support.  Dr. Krob has an MBA and a PhD and is a recognized expert in knowledge management practices. He is the Co-founder and CIO of Klever and lives with his wife and daughter in New Orleans.

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