September 4, 2006

Laborious Thoughts: Sleep, pee, eat, watch 24, repeat

Over the Labor Day holiday I was anything but laborious, enjoying a lazy weekend of sleeping, snacking, napping, and playing solitaire on my laptop while binging on Seasons 1, 2, and 3 of 24. I didn't get into the show when it first aired, but having the opportunity to watch it straight through from the beginning, I have to say I'm hooked. I'm only on Season 3, disc 5 so I don't know what happens from this point on, but I have to say that Sherri Palmer has become my favorite love-to-hate character.

Anyway, I've finally broken free of my "sleep-pee-eat-watch 24" cycle to write this blog on reruitment and retention (R&R), hallelujah!

For the last few weeks, I've been fascinated with the impact of KM on R&R and exploring the influence of the KM function in how organizations acquire and develop knowledge - not just in knowledge capture and delivery.

It occurs to me that for most organizations, KM is utilized primarily as a loss prevention mechanism, with the intention of preventing as little information from escaping the organization as possible. I've read articles, online discussions and threads that focus on the need to capture critical knowledge and information in an employee's exit interview (and in the days/weeks/months leading up to the exit) and the role of KM in those efforts (unfortunately, I didn't think to grab links to those sites), but I've yet to read any literature that describes the potential benefits of KM as a recruitment tool.

In today's increasingly tech-savvy economy too many companies have become tech-lazy. HR recruitment functions have been relegated to automated systems that identify candidates through stringent keyword filters based on narrowly defined job descriptions that, often, HR representatives themselves don't understand. Recruitment and selection for most companies is a joke - I say this as someone who, just four or five years ago participated in campus and city job fairs as an exiting college student only to hear from each and every recruiter "check our website for jobs and submit your resume online". Sometimes they took a hard copy of your resume, gave you a card, and discussed your career goals, but always they sent you online, even though I'm pretty sure every student at those fairs had already been online and was standing in line to get a job - not the run around. Unfortunately, talking to recent graduates and experienced job seekers as a recruiter I hear the same stories today.

How do organizations improve their recruitment strategies? Trust me, it ain't with Monster! You need a clear grasp of the organization's long-term strategic direction and a firm understanding of the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will get you there, that's KM baby! It's not just about what you know, but what you need to know to get where you're trying to go.

As to retention, once you've captured the knowledge and information you're after, and let's say, for arguments sake, that you even got a lock on some of that difficult to acquire tacit knowledge - what then is the incentive to retain the individual(s) who provided the knowledge? I mean, I know what the theoretical textbook response might be ("knowledge development is a continual process, and 'high producers' have value beyond what they may share or contribute at any one point in time"), but let's be honest - do we really believe that the leadership in most companies today has achieved that level of awareness? Do we accept that organizational leaders are progressive and/or focused enough to see any individual employees value beyond either the job description or their (the organizational leaders') perception of an employee's (potential) skills, ability and knowledge?

Knowledge management needs to inform the Training & Development function, just as much as it does recruiting; taking the lead in influencing the cycle of knowledge dissemination and innovation. All too often, KM professionals ask, "How do you get people to participate in the knowledge sharing process?" You do it by integrating KM into an organization's overall development strategy.

When I sketched out my very first graphical representation of KM as a college Junior, I envisioned it existing at the intersection of IT, HRD (Training, Education, and Development), and HRM (Selection and Recruitment, Placement, Benefits and Compensation Administration). Over time, within the context of an all-out guerilla KM strategy, I've pondered the subsumption of these functions by knowledge management. Perhaps this concept is a bit premature given that so many organization have such limited awareness (if any at all) of KM, but I think that with increased awareness and adoption, the merger of these functional areas will create a powerful vehicle for creating fundamental changes in how organizations acquire, capture, manage, and leverage knowledge and human resources.


Anonymous said...

You are a very good writer, have you thought about possibly writing a book about your concept of KM? I am not a publisher, but I think that this info would be greatly appreciated by new/old companies.