Knowledge sharing is the process of passing on tacit and explicit information from one person to another. We have already explored this fact and how is it important among human capital professionals in a prior article. In an organization, the benefits of knowledge sharing are many. For instance, a sustained mechanism of knowledge sharing and training of young employees will help the company scale future business environments. Its importance cannot be overlooked. Pushing the boundaries of collaboration and innovation in all areas of life is a matter of learning from the people who trail-blazed the paths the same as you and in turn sharing everything you learn with the individuals coming after you.
The easiest and most effective way your firm can unravel the process of sharing is by incorporating it as part of your culture. Here are 5 ways you can improve knowledge sharing across your company.
1. Encourage & Foster the Right Mindset
According to studies, 83% of people are happier at work when they are passing on their intellect and accumulated expertise to the coming generation. However, several challenges can create bottlenecks in this process, i.e. siloed expertise and disparate teams. Silos, in particular, lead to people only sharing knowledge with their closest colleagues. Here are ways to foster a fruitful knowledge-sharing mindset.
• Adopt a top-down approach. If necessary, ensure the model is adopted by the top stakeholder and then trickled
down to the bottom.
• Use intrinsic motivation and autonomy. Help make work enjoyable for your employees and do not breathe down
their necks at every turn. The happier they are, the more motivated they will be to share their knowledge.
• Experiment with learning and encourage “failures”. Promoting this message will empower them to experiment
and removes the fear to push boundaries. This makes space for more learning.
• Dismantle information silos and make knowledge sharing easy. If one half of your team is using a particular tool
for passing information and the other half another, this can cause inconsistencies or irregularities in stored
information. Remove these information silos by installing a single centralized platform for storing information.
2. Create Spaces for Sharing to Happen
Traditional office setups can act as silos blocking knowledge sharing and collaborations. For instance, you may be working in cubicles possibly closed off from your colleagues. In the present day, according to findstack.com, there has been a rise in remote work by 140% worldwide. Remote work or WFH provides another set of hurdles to knowledge sharing. Organizations need to craft virtual spaces for employees to share knowledge.
If your office space is made up of cubicles, they can become physical barriers to knowledge sharing. If that is the case, it is good to implement common areas such as “Rec Rooms” with coffee machines and coffee tables where employees have an environment that motivates conversations. On the other hand, if your office space is made up of Open-Plan workspaces, like most of the modern workplaces, consider introducing quiet areas where your staff can communicate sans distractions. Other ideas to improve communication between employees, which will, in turn, increase knowledge sharing include the introduction of coffee machines across the office building in the hallways between departments, informal conference room settings, and casual seating areas.
3. Encourage Several Forms of Knowledge Sharing
Multiple forms of knowledge sharing boost employee engagement. Gallup.com says that employee disengagement can cause up to $7 trillion loss in productivity. Providing them options to choose from empowers them to make the choice that suits their personality and skills best. Additionally, find time throughout the week for employees to meet and share something learned with a colleague. And then have regular round-up meetings with the full team so that they can share what they learned that week or in the interesting resource they found. If required, try off-site events where a new scenery will inspire colleagues.
4. Lead by Example
According to a study by the Society of Human Resources at the University of Colorado Denver, Fortune 500 companies lose under $32 billion annually simply because they operated out of siloes with regards to knowledge sharing. Management teams play a major role in inculcating a culture that fosters knowledge sharing and growth and leads it from the front. While providing opportunities and building trust, senior managers have the responsibility to practice what they preach. Prioritize collaboration over hierarchy and show by example the benefits of knowledge sharing. If you are a team, know that a leader who openly shares his successes and failures with their team will encourage the team to do the same. Every individual in the organization regardless of their position in the hierarchy has the responsibility to co-create and co-share. This will help normalize knowledge sharing.