These days, I get a ton of questions about what it means to do knowledge management, and how to hire knowledge managers. People often stuff so many responsibilities into the JD of your average knowledge manager that it's almost impossible to get someone who can do it all.
I find that credentials on paper only help me so much. In a Knowledge Manager, I'm looking for someone with really strong skills in critical thinking, synthesis, and problem solving who is willing to take a customer-service oriented approach. I've more or less figured out what to look for in people that I work with regularly to see who'd be a good fit.
Curiosity: People have to want to find out more, and always be looking for new information that they can apply to problems. Look for people whose reflex is to ask “Who else has done something like this?”, “How did it work?” or “How can I learn more?” Those people are more likely to start building on strengths and existing ideas, rather than re-inventing the wheel.
Sociability: A key part of knowledge management is the network of people we exist in. Being able to tap into what they know, and share what we know with others who need it is critical to making KM systems work. Look for people who want to share ideas. The ones who ask “who else needs to know about this?” are a good place to start.
Citizenship: A lot of people think they’re trading off between KM and “real work”. The return on often comes outside of the team who generates the original idea, so there’s not always an incentive to take the time. But we all need information from others to do our jobs. Everyone needs to be putting what they’ve learned into the learning universe of the organization (this is where a well ordered platform is critical) so that everyone benefits. An attitude of organizational citizenship helps tremendously here.
Adaptiveness: Having information doesn’t do us much good if we don’t act on it. Look for people are willing to make changes based on new information. “What does this mean for my work?”, “How can I do this better?”, and “What do we change?” are the kinds of questions to look for.
But how do you identify those skills in an interview? I've started giving people writing tests where they take an evaluation and boil it down to an executive summary, key tags, and a list of audiences they would share it with. I've found that people who interview really well often struggle with this task, so it helps me winnow out candidates who don't have a good sense of audiences and priorties. But I'm anxious to hear other people's suggestions. What do you do to get the very best knowledge managers?