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August 9, 2022

How do you encourage knowledge sharing?

The previous blog looked at why employees hoard knowledge, and described the benefits of sharing. In this second part we suggest tips and tricks organizations can use to encourage knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing is critical to a company’s success. It makes onboarding easier and gives every team member the context they need to excel at their job. Plus, knowledge sharing helps your teammates stay connected. The more knowledge you share, the more you shape and define your company culture.

When employees freely share knowledge and information with each other, experts agree that it builds competence and rapport, encourages collaboration and teamwork, and improves outcomes for the entire organization.

So how do we encourage individuals and teams to share the knowledge that enables success:

Use knowledge management technology - Using the right tools like KnowledgeIQ can be a way of embedding knowledge sharing. Pooling knowledge into an easy and efficient platform that sorts the important from the outdated and learns from all the interactions you have with your customers is vital.

Sometimes, knowledge hoarding results when staff are worried about revealing sensitive information such as trade secrets or details that should be restricted to a specific team or client account. Technology can help by creating secure systems, permissions structures, and review procedures that allow people to store and share knowledge confidently

Remember technology alone isn’t enough to create a knowledge-sharing culture, it does though give workers a handy way to collaborate, but there have to be other efforts in place.

Create a knowledge sharing culture - We all have knowledge compiled from years of experience, from interactions with customers, from every conversation with every person. Keeping that knowledge locked away doesn’t help anyone – least of all your customers. A few tips below:

  • Establish an open-door policy - Employees should be able to feel as though they can approach anyone in the company to ask questions or find out information at any time. The employee should feel free to do this without being judged for asking questions or saying that they don’t know something. To build a knowledge-sharing culture, it is necessary to create a sense of trust and mutual understanding within your organization. Establishing an open-door policy eliminates any hierarchical barriers in an organization and encourages employees’ approach anyone to find the information they need.
  • Lead by example. When you think and work by giving knowledge a value, your team will understand the importance of being an active part of the knowledge-sharing culture. Moreover, they will act and rethink their roles and positions and contribute proactively.
  • Motivate employees - Employees may be reluctant to share knowledge due to the fear of giving away their ideas and expertise. They need to be educated on the personal benefits of knowledge sharing and how it improves the quality of the work they produce. It is also important to make employees understand that, in an environment where everyone is actively contributing, it is normal to make mistakes. These mistakes can be fixed and can be beneficial in helping others avoid them in the future.
  • Recognise and reward employees - Celebrate sharing. When sharing happens and there is a positive outcome, recognize the people and teams involved. Give feedback on results generated because of the shared information. Providing rewards and incentives is also a fantastic way to acknowledge contributions as well as being a great motivator for other employees to share their knowledge.

Train people - To create an effective knowledge-sharing environment, employees need training on the dos and don'ts of knowledge sharing. Provide training on how to create engaging content for the knowledge base as well as on the rules and regulations specific to your organization. It is also important to train employees on how to use the tools your company provides for knowledge sharing to create and consume content without any hassle.

Find training that will help your team collaborate. In a more general way, professional development gives employees the chance to build skills and boost confidence. This will make them more receptive to sharing.

If people hoard knowledge because they want to protect their careers, show them the opposite is true. Tie KM to performance expectations and career progression to show that sharing knowledge is the way to get ahead

Time flexibility. Much of the way that knowledge sharing naturally takes place is just through office chatter. You might find out about a different department’s new initiatives while you’re at the watercooler or checking in with your friend on the other side of the office. When managers expect people to constantly be “working” they might be preventing knowledge sharing from taking place. Give employees signals that it’s okay to step away from their desks, to talk to their colleagues, or to not always be working on a concrete task.

Set aside time to share information. If you want the experienced member of staff to mentor the newbie, they need time to do this. If it’s a large amount of information, the person may need help with existing work so they can find time to share.

Revisit your onboarding process. It’s extremely important to set the tone from the beginning with your new hires. Take a look at your onboarding process; where can you include more opportunities for knowledge sharing other than in manuals, guides and documents? For example, inject new elements into your onboarding process, such as:

  • Presentations from other teams so new hires understand how everything fits together and get to know people outside of their immediate team
  • Time for your new hire to shadow someone in a similar position to get some insider tips and tricks that might not be in your formal training materials
  • Pairing new hires with a mentor (this doesn’t have to be someone in the same department) that they can turn to with questions or challenges.

Create clear guidelines. No one on your team should have to guess what’s worth sharing. There needs to be clear instructions and context, otherwise, you risk inactivity.

Inactivity creates siloed thinking within your team and robs your co-workers of potentially valuable information. Every team should have clear guidelines on what goes into a knowledge base and what doesn’t. Communicate clear guidelines for what is—and isn’t—OK to share.

Sharing knowledge empowers everyone, gives everybody opportunities, and improves experience at every level. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being in control because of a lack of access to the knowledge you need. Equally there’s nothing more irritating for customers than poor service attributed to lack of knowledge

Want to find out more on how KnowledgeIQ can help you bring together and retain your organizations knowledge. Request a discussion with of our experienced team members today or download or brochure for more information.

Article written by Toby Milner

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