Coaching is a critical enabler for KCS, and a robust licensing model is an essential means to insure knowledge quality. The KCS Practices Guide, the KCS Adoption Guide, and in various posts in this blog hammer this point home. When we work with a team practicing KCS to do a KCS Tune Up, our most useful recommendations usually focus on coaching and licensing.
What can you do to increase the value of coaching and licensing in your KCS program?
Give Coaches Time to Coach
We worked with a small support team that selected two coaches. These were positive, personable, and patient people who had a real passion for KCS. They were just right for the role.
As the program rolled out, one coach was extremely effective, while the other seemed to struggle. Given their manifest fitness for coaching, I was surprised. But after a few conversations, the issue became clear. Unlike her fellow coach, the struggling coach conveniently worked in the company headquarters, and when any special project came along, she was so good that they assigned it to her. She was overwhelmed! When the company freed up her time to coach, she immediately became as effective as her colleague.
Managers must do the hard work of preserving coaches’ time to coach. Fortunately, once you get over the hump of getting people licensed, the time commitment drops considerably.
License Based on Competencies
Being given full rights in KCS requires more than just writing articles that follow the content standard. You need to know how to search, when to stop searching, and—most elusively—how to capture an article while you’re working the case, rather than after the fact. Yet some organizations license people after they just submit a certain number of articles that score well against the Article Quality Checklist (or Content Standard Checklist).
We recommend you build a list of competencies that knowledge developers, coaches, and managers all share. Coaches and those being coached can use these competencies to help chart a path to getting licensed. We’ve created a free competencies checklist template that we distilled from Appendix D of the Practices Guide.
Don’t Create Permanent Candidates
Some enterprises implement a practice called “up or out.” If you don’t get promoted within a certain time window, you must leave the organization.
We don’t want people to leave the organization! But we do recommend a kind of up or out model for KCS licensing. Once you’ve been trained how to do all of the solve loop (which often means you’re called a “Candidate,”) you have a relatively short time period to get fully licensed. I personally like two months, but I’ve been convinced by our clients that three months is probably more realistic. If someone doesn’t get licensed by then, we’ll stop coaching and they’ll stop creating content.
An up or out program focuses the attention and creates a sense of urgency. It also means coaches limit the amount of time they spend with people who aren’t serious about learning KCS.
If you’ve invested in coaches’ time, reserved licenses for those who demonstrate true proficiency, and limited the time they can take to get their license, you’ve ensured that licensing is really meaningful. Getting licensed is a significant achievement—let’s celebrate it!
Every corporate culture is different, and there’s no one way to recognize those who have gotten licensed. We’ve seen people be proud to get a bobblehead (owls and Einsteins are popular), a traffic cone for their cube, their name on the wall, a robot they can construct, and even a Golden Snitch from Harry Potter.
Most of these forms of recognition tie in to a theme for the program. Themes can be creative, fun, and a good way to market the program. If you haven’t already, brainstorm about a theme that would be a good fit for your culture and your program, and recognition ideas will flow from there.
People who get licensed have done something difficult and important. We can do something better than to print out a certificate for them.