Often, when the term knowledge management is mentioned, the next part of the conversation is followed either by
“what do you mean?”
or “do you mean the data base system?”.
The mistake will be to spend time trying to explain it. Too often, explaining about knowledge management only end up labelling it ultimately as a cost initiative.
In a service industry, I like to start with people, the employees who sell and provide services. When a recruitment company sell their services, they are implying a worth in the people who will be performing the services. They deliver services at the best of their knowledge and they way they perform is packaging that adds to a customer experience. If we continue with this train of thought, knowledge is integral to a service industry, it goes straight to top line sales and bottom line profits.
For many knowledge management practioners, initiatives in knowledge management often turned into a cost versus profit discussion. Often it ends up on the losing end of the battle along with other cost centres such as training and development, human resources with funds redirected to systems upgrade and even marketing. Here’s what I will propose as the pillars of success in a recruitment company using knowledge.
In recruitment, each consultant often holds his/her own list of clients. Leaders in the industry will be familiar with this story, lose a good person and lose a list of clients and it is straight to the bottom line. Whether it is a sudden departure of staff or through retirement, to build a sustainable business that can survive the change in personnel, succession planning is important. And knowledge management has a key role to play.
Creating programs that encourages sharing of knowledge from seniors to juniors or peers will mean continuity and retention of knowledge in the company. The knowledge that is shared will allow other member staff to step up when there is a staff departure. It also gives confidence to clients to continue work with the company.
Upstart new starters or junior staff
While training is the most basic form of initiating new staff, it oftens lack the depth and practicality of daily operations. It is common for a new starter irregardless of seniority to take 3-6 months before creating profits. Knowledge management can provide a new starter with the essential knowledge to kick start their performance.
Programs such as mentoring, seminars will bring similar subject matter experts in contact with new starters. Through sharing of experience and working knowledge of the company, the culture and politics will help a new starter settle in quicker and focus on performance. Such program’s can also benefit new starters.
Recruitment is one of the most fragmented industry full of companies in various sizes. A client has a wide selection of companies to work with and often, the client can ony rely on past experiences to decide. Often, it is simple as how comfortable or confident they feel about the recruiter. It can be hard to qualify how to increase such a confidence.
Knowledge is by far a much better argument to raise confidence. To industrialise the recognition of a company’s knowledge and thus expertise, it will require a recruitment to use expertise as a forefront of their positioning. There are other positioning elements such as size, geographical reach for example that are commonly used. However, if you ask a person who has a severe headache who they prefer to see, it will be a head specialist than a generalist.
A client is not just the company a recruitment firm is working with. In the people business, it is the individual hiring managers and decision makers. Whilst they may not have working knowledge of recruitment, they have working knowledge of their industry and function for the role a recruitment firm is asked to recruit.
Creating client intimacy requires a few tactics. One way will be to speak their “language”. This can be easily achieved if a recruiter has knowledge of their client’s area of work. Knowledge management programs that provide a recruiter with such knowledge or enable them to be more knowledgeable will help. Also, don’t forget, your client has knowledge you can tap into and it is often free.
The next time the subject of knowledge management comes up, it should be a topic of necessary investment and not optional cost.