It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 minutes into a new job or going on 10 years with the same company—questions pop up at work. For all of us. What’s one thing that separates those who rise to the top? Their ability to find answers and solve problems, fast.
It sounds so simple, doesn't it? But it’s tough to connect the dots when information is buried in more stale documentation. It’s hard to keep moving forward when you’re spending half the day gently nudging your subject matter experts. And it’s slow-going to recreate best practices that weren’t properly captured, stored, or shared.
What you need is a knowledge manager.
People in this role often fly under the radar, but they keep a lot of important plates spinning. Knowledge managers make sure everyone has access to the information they need to do their best work.
The best in the field:
- Manage collective knowledge like a product
- Implement company-wide knowledge management strategies
- Align knowledge operations with business priorities
- Oversee knowledge transfer between teams
- Dismantle information silos
- Engage senior leadership
…and so much more.
Ultimately, knowledge managers promote a culture of knowledge sharing—and underscore the value of treating institutional knowledge as intellectual property. They empower everyone to capture, follow, and continuously improve the processes that help employees do their best work and companies stay ahead of the curve.
What improves, as a result? A lot more than just productivity.
Read on to find out what a knowledge manager does, why the role is gaining in popularity, and how you can support the natural knowledge champions on your current team.
Knowledge manager responsibilities
A knowledge manager is a trainer, documenter, project manager, data architect, and everything that fits in between.
A true-to-life list of their responsibilities could go on forever. Instead, we’ll save you a few scrolls and highlight the most common knowledge manager responsibilities.
- Championing a culture of knowledge sharing that empowers the entire team to capture, follow, and constantly improve their workflows. 🧠
- Measuring, managing, and reporting on the effectiveness of the team’s knowledge sharing program with executives and the wider team. 📏
- Managing the team’s knowledge base so information is up-to-date, easy to find, and easy to navigate. 🔎
- Creating and improving the quality of training documentation to minimize repetitive questions, meetings, and interruptions. 🖐️
- Speeding up workforce mastery of new software, tools, and other new technology. 🏎️
- Helping new hires ramp up faster in their roles. 📈
- Distributing and promoting process documentation, SOPs, and other knowledge resources to encourage team-wide adoption. 🧾
- Training the entire team on knowledge management processes and documentation best practices to make knowledge sharing easy for all. 🧑💻
- Streamlining training, documentation, and approval processes for subject matter experts (SMEs), leaders, top performers, and other collaborators. 🛫
- Collecting feedback and optimizing knowledge documentation as best practices and the team, industry, and market change. 📩
- Identifying new tools the team can use to both improve knowledge sharing and to help improve their day-to-day work. ⚙️
- Creating new opportunities and resources for employee development. 🧡
Common knowledge manager skills to look for
Knowledge managers have a lot on their plate, so they’ll need certain skills to be successful. Soft skills lean into personal traits and interpersonal expertise, like empathy or communication. Hard skills are more technical and refer to the expertise learned on the job, like software proficiency or experience training new hires.
Below are some of the top knowledge manager skills to keep in mind when looking for your unicorn. 🦄
- Verbal and written communication
- Priority management
- Public speaking and presenting
- Attention to detail
- Knowledge base and workspace management software proficiency (E.g. SharePoint, Confluence, Access)
- Industry-specific automation platforms proficiency (E.g. ServiceNow, InfoPath)
- Translation management software proficiency (E.g. Smartling, Lokalise)
- Project management tools (E.g. Jira, Asana)
- Content management system proficiency (e.g. Contentful, Webflow)
- Productivity platforms proficiency (e.g. Microsoft 365)
- Certifications (e.g. ITIL 4 Foundation Certification, Project Management Professional (PMP))
- Data-driven reporting
- Data analysis and collection
- People, project, and change management
Why teams need a knowledge manager
Having a knowledge manager means you’ll have a dedicated teammate to manage your knowledge operations.
If you don’t have a knowledge base yet, a knowledge manager will help create one. If you have dozens of knowledge gaps, they’ll help fill them. If you’re spending too much time answering repetitive questions, they’ll create a system to scale what you know so you can focus on more strategic work.
Sounds nice, right? What’s even nicer: more productivity, autonomy, innovation, and growth for your team. 🌱
Below are the top benefits your team can expect with a knowledge manager on board.
- More effective knowledge sharing culture and a knowledge base that makes it easier to learn on the job and continually improve team best practices.
- More collaborative approaches to documentation and regular reviews from your team’s experts.
- Easier and more scalable processes to create and capture team knowledge and help them keep up with changes in their company, industry, and market.
- More documentation than ever before that’s easy to find, share, and apply in real-time.
- Better quality documentation that’s easier and faster to create.
- Stronger trust in the team’s knowledge base, leading to more self-service and independent problem solving.
- Improved productivity across the team as a result of less time spent on questions or searching for resources.
- Up-to-date institutional knowledge that’s accessible to all, not siloed with top performers or missing when teammates leave.
- Better overall operational excellence as a result of a strong knowledge sharing culture.
- Fewer mistakes, faster decision-making timelines, and minimized project management challenges as a result of consistent knowledge sharing.
💃 Let's Tango: Knowledge documentation in seconds
You don’t need a special title or special skills to document your team’s best practices. With Tango, anyone can be a knowledge champion. 🏆
Download the Tango Chrome extension to capture your steps while you work—and help everyone following your lead find answers fast.
See Tango in action here:
Knowledge manager job description example
To find a great knowledge manager, you can tailor your job description to your team’s needs, goals, and current tools. Here’s an example of a knowledge manager job description you could use to get you started.
Knowledge manager career progression
A knowledge manager can end up wearing lots of hats during their career. 🎩
What growth looks like depends on industry and specialty. An IT team’s knowledge manager will have a very different workload than an executive-level knowledge management leader. (Think department-level data management vs. organization-level strategic planning).
Titles and departments can explicitly include “knowledge,” but responsibilities can also spill into other roles in areas under Learning and Development and People Operations.
Below is a broad overview of a knowledge manager’s potential career progression.
- Education knowledge managers need can range from various business communication or operations-related degrees. Some institutions are also beginning to offer knowledge management-specific degrees and certificate programs.
- Entry-level roles can help knowledge managers learn the basics of knowledge management—from creating knowledge and training resources to managing information systems on a small scale.
- Mid-level roles can lead to specializations for specific needs, like maintaining the team’s knowledge base or training teammates on specific knowledge management tools.
- Manager roles can involve managing senior knowledge specialists and developing and executing knowledge management strategies for growing teams.
- Executive roles may oversee/evolve an entire organization’s knowledge operations and manage multiple knowledge managers. This person creates and implements the knowledge operations strategies that support company-wide goals.
Is there someone on your team who already manages and promotes your team’s knowledge base? Are they helping others learn how to document their processes or create award-worthy documentation? Your next knowledge manager might be closer than you think. 😉
How to support your in-house knowledge champion
If you can’t hire a knowledge manager right away, you may still be in luck. Check out these tips to help any knowledge champions you have advocate for effective knowledge operations across your existing team. 🌟
- Get on the same page with their knowledge management goals and the overall team’s goals.
- Adopt a system to help your knowledge manager understand and prioritize knowledge and documentation needs across the team.
- Set expectations about how teams will manage their own learning and knowledge sharing.
- Support and promote team-wide adoption of the best practices and systems that are in place.
- Help incentivize SMEs to share their knowledge to create, review, and advise on documentation.
- Help your knowledge champion keep documentation current and the knowledge base organized.
- Encourage continual optimization of documentation by helping them monitor results, collect feedback, and continue to refresh your processes as needed.
- Provide the resources and budget needed to support knowledge operations and streamline their work.
- Find opportunities for them to continue their professional development.