7 key qualities of an effective Knowledge Manager

When introducing knowledge management (km) strategy to an organisation, overcoming hurdles and helping people understand km is just the first step.  What are the other key qualities of an effective Knowledge Manager?

With the help of our km guru, Paul Whiffen, we explore some common km challenges and 7 key qualities needed to overcome them.  

"When introducing knowledge management strategy to an organisation, there are some familiar questions and barriers to overcome.

The most common ones I hear are:

  • we tried lessons learned before without success;
  • isn't this mostly about when people leave or retire and we need to get their knowledge?;
  • we found it very theoretical and conceptual;
  • isn't km mainly about IT?;
  • it's hard to convince the Business that km has real value; 
  • we found it very theoretical and conceptual."

1) An educator

To overcome these questions, its vital to educate people so they understand what good km looks like and its real value to the Business. 

An effective Knowledge Manager has the ability to bring km theory to life in a language that the whole organisation understands.

2) An influencer

For km to be a success in any organisation, you need both the leadership of your Senior Management and the support of the other professions in the Business. 

Senior Executive support and their buy-in to the km vision is vital; without their support and leadership any organisational change will not be effective.   As well as leadership support from the top you also need bottom up support from other professions in the Business; you'll need everyone on-board for km success. 

Effective Knowledge Managers can influence at all levels across the organisation. 

3) A strategist

A good Knowledge Manager understands the wider Business Strategy and creates a km roadmap that aligns to it. Strategic km goals should integrate with the strategic Business goals and an effective Knowledge Manager demonstrates how km supports the Business's overall plan.

Further reading: Why should you integrate knowledge management into Business Processes

Close up image of hands connecting puzzle elements

4) A good communicator

Good km is mostly about change. People's ability to adapt to change varies, however they are more likely to embrace change if they understand the reasons for the change and how they will benefit from them.

Key to this is effective communication and good relationships with other professions, such as Quality, Human Resources, Risk Management, Communications and Innovation. You'll need everyone on-board to make change successful so developing a comprehensive communications strategy and plan that includes training is vital to km success.

Further reading: How to use knowledge management to future-proof your organisation

Young man wearing futuristic glasses against blue background

5) Be a Planner

An effective km strategy requires a robust plan and framework as a solid starting point from which an organisation can develop the tools and skills to make km real. 

In simple terms, km plans mean

  • setting out business (or individual) context;
  • setting out what tactical KM activities need to apply and when.

For example, a project km plan may establish the project’s objectives, risks and constraints and then think about:-

  • how required knowledge flows in to the project from the wider organisation at the start;
  • how project knowledge develops as the project delivers and;
  • how knowledge flows out to the wider organisation at the end.

Further reading: 7 Benefits of a successful knowledge transfer plan

Silhouette of human head with gears instead of brain-1

6) Be patient

Good km is mostly about learning and change. Learning from past culture change initiatives in the organisation; what worked and what didn't.

Change is not only about a shifting of processes, tools and techniques but also about a fundamental shift in culture. The processes, tools, techniques then become embedded in the culture and part of Business As Usual (BAU)

This process can take years so patience is needed in order to achieve real km success.

Key indicators of km success are:

  • Km has been authentically adopted;
  • The Business understands the value;
  • It is being applied as part of ongoing BAU.

7) Be resiliant

Good km takes courage!


The key qualities needed to be an effective Knowledge Manager are

  1. Educator
  2. Influencer
  3. Strategist
  4. Good communicator
  5. Planner
  6. Patience
  7. Resiliance

Are you 'Knowledge Ready'?

Knowledge management is a difficult challenge that every organisation is faced with.  Being able to retain and transfer valuable knowledge in your Business can be the difference between success and failure. That's why, in collaboration with our Knowledge Management Thought-Leader, Paul Whiffen, Hydra has produced a free downloadable ebook.   Managing the Right Knowledge & Managing the Knowledge Right shares the key questions and solutions for improving your knowledge management capabilities to help you become 'Knowledge Ready'.

In this eBookCover of managing the right knowledge and managing the knowledge right

  • Understand the most difficult barriers to successful knowledge management
  • The tools and strategies to improve your organisations knowledge management capabilities
  • Learn how to make knowledge management real 


Download Playbook


whiffenAbout the author, Paul Whiffen

I have been working in KM for 20 years, including Head of km for three organisations in different sectors. I understand the theory and know how to make km real and effective from experience gained in both leadership and supporting consultancy.  If you would like to learn more please visit my blog page 

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