A day in the life of a Knowledge Manager

My typical day has 2 different starting time. The first one at 8AM, CET (Central European Time) where I’m geographically located in Grenoble, France. The second time starts at 1:00 PM CET or 7:00 AM EST (Eastern Standard Time) just when my eastern US based colleagues wake up with the same energy as my European colleagues 6 hours earlier. I must keep the same reactivity level for both time zones. I admit, I enjoy the role of an organizational learning and Knowledge sharing leader for a global energy company with over 45k+ employees distributed in 65 locations. It’s very dynamic place to experiment a variety of situations and configurations.

Now, let’s walk through the day activities and ultimately the opportunities that show up during the day (and night). After multiple occurrences, I learned that whenever I have over 40+ new emails, normally, it’s due to a new group of recruited engineers and they are asking for access and permissions to the multitude of platforms and tools! Yes, even non-KM tools, I ended up being the admin and approving the access requests. I try not to get overwhelmed by access and permissions management and refocus on the KM mission. I switch directly to the online knowledge sharing community platform and skim through the questions that hasn’t been answered for over 24 hours. For those questions, I contact the community core members (moderators) and ask them to make a response whether an answer is available or not.

Next, I prioritize emails that are soliciting help for the first time for their work. Usually, they describe the same need to share their knowledge using their own vocabularies and work terminologies. I quickly setup a meeting with the demander, usually for the next day and in worst case scenario the next 48 hours depending on the agenda availability. When I meet with the leader/ manager for the first time, I try to speak his/ her language and give him/ her the impression that I’m one of them, I rarely pronounce ‘knowledge management’ in the first meetings. I show him/ her what we have done with other teams and how we could leverage the knowledge sharing platform to solve the issues in the field and capitalize on the solutions. The first reaction from the leader/ manager will be “..and what the other team used as a voucher code in time tracking tool?”. I keep calm, collected, and reply with confidence “what voucher code, have you used when you sent an e-mail?”. I seize the opportunity for a quick education speech (not so long or I’ll lose his/ her attention). The winning argument is when I show how may times a given solution was reused by colleagues with same role and responsibility. Consequently, how many hours the team from region X could save by implementing the solutions developed by the team from region Y. I conclude the meeting with the next steps, right after I send the meeting minutes and setup a follow-up meeting for the upcoming days.

Next, I go back to my mailbox and find out that my sponsor is urgently asking for analytics and reports, my sponsor is having a meeting with a company executive and asking for a 1 slider showing the KM program adoption and progress. Because I learned my lesson from a previous situation, I keep my data and metrics updated and ready to communicate.

Next, I check my scheduled meetings, most of times, they are either: 1) follow-up meetings on work in progress or 2) training and awareness sessions: 1) Work in progress meetings typically involve aligning the knowledge sharing applications to the teams’ activities and processes. It’s worth to mention that the knowledge sharing platform is internally developed and most of the features were crowdsourced from the community members themselves. During my research studies, we found out that involving the end-users in the development process will increase the likelihood of the platform adoption by the end-user. 2) Training and awareness session take the form of a workout rather than a presentation, I usually ask the attendees to prepare ahead of the session some success stories, experiences, issues, questions, or any useful information that they would like to share with the community. I demonstrate during the session the “how-to” and then let the attendees practice with their own stories, questions and/ or information. I keep an on-going dialogue with double-listening stance, there’s always something new to learn from the participants. I take note. It will ultimately lead to the overall program improvement.

It’s afternoon (Europe) and late morning (US) and I have a private appointment (For example, a health related). I keep following the work from my mobile. Sitting in the patient waiting room is now also a place to work from. Once I finish my appointment, I drive back home, however the day is far from being done. While driving, I start to self-reflect on the discussions, challenging questions, and ideas that got my attention. Back to home, I end up re-working a presentation, re-formulating an argument, re-writing a communication, or updating the learning materials.

The post-covid era has introduced new working modalities, the time-allocation is shared between the professional and the private commitments, in such situations - outside the work routines, I tend to adopt the Hensei attitude, a lean principle that encourages the self-reflection to learn from our experiences. A posture to re-question what we know and how to do the work differently for continuous improvements.

When it happens to be the third Tuesday of the month ;), I make sure to block my agenda at 5PM CET and attend the monthly SIKM call . By attending events and webinars, I intend to make sure that I’m following what my peers and KM colleagues are developing. I learn from other experiences, as I inherently believe that KM challenges are common across the industry. Building on top of previous experiences will accelerate the diffusion of the KM discipline in a never-ending thought-provoking endeavor.

It’s late evening, I finished the last follow-up meeting with the eastern colleagues and I’m preparing to turn off my PC and have some rest. My colleagues from Bangalore (India) and Tianjin (China) are waking up and I start receiving a new bunch of emails! At this moment is it the third time I start my day? Or I should just get my rest?

What would be your day in the life of a knowledge manager?

A day in the life of Rachad EL BADAWI EL NAJJAR