Why and how to adopt a culture of knowledge sharing

Published on 1st March, 2019 in Employee Engagement, Workforce Optimization

 

What are your businesses key resources? We’re willing to bet that your most precious one is in-house knowledge.

It’s simple really, all your employees need to be experts in their fields, be that engineering, sales or accounting, plus they need to know everything about your business and its products or services. The success of your company literally depends on keeping this knowledge in-house.

One way to facilitate this is to look into your knowledge sharing strategies. So what exactly is knowledge sharing, why do you need it and how can it be implemented?

What is knowledge sharing in a business?

Knowledge sharing can be defined as a designed process where employees exchange both their implicit and explicit knowledge in order to create mutual understanding, resulting in new understanding. This can sound a bit complicated but basically it’s any process that allows employees to share their expertise efficiently with each other in order to generate new ideas and retain important skill sets within a company.

True knowledge sharing consists of:

  • Knowledge donation – i.e. communicating an individual’s intellectual capital to others.
  • Knowledge collection – i.e receiving and computing another person’s intellectual capital.
Knowledge sharing is important for organisations. Knowledge sharing requires both donation and collection of information.

Businesses with an effective knowledge sharing structure often support these processes with carefully selected technology. This means that information can be accurately stored and distributed digitally to other employees in the case of someone leaving the company. It can also make processes like training and onboarding more time efficient, as employees can work through information at their own speed rather than attending classes.

Why should you adopt knowledge sharing?

As the old adage goes, knowledge is power. Without exception, groups are better at achieving goals when everyone involved has all the skills and knowledge required to do so. This means giving them key information about the process, teaching them the required skill set, and communicating effectively within the group so that everyone can perform a useful function.

Here are some further reasons why knowledge sharing is important:

  • Eases growing pains: Growing a company is always a difficult process, particularly when it comes to deciding who needs to know what. Who will train new staff and what are the clear chains of command? Having a clear knowledge sharing process can help to alleviate these problems at the source. Creating solid infrastructure that guides the onboarding process and ensures that everyone is getting the right information when they need it most.
  • Prevents knowledge hoarding: Knowledge hoarding is damaging for businesses. It means that when employees leave your company they take all of their expertise with them, leaving their team flailing. This is particularly important for organizations where specific client knowledge is essential for the working relationship. Knowledge sharing means that this expertise can be retained and built upon rather than dependant on certain individuals.
  • Retains your top talent: Providing people with all the information they need to succeed lets your best and brightest shine and prevents dissatisfaction from chronic communication problems. After all, no one likes being left in the dark, particularly when it makes their jobs ten times harder.

3 ways to create a knowledge sharing culture

Knowledge sharing can be a tricky culture to implement, largely because so much depends on how your specific company currently works. However there are some necessary basics that you can put in place.

1. Consider all the ways that knowledge is shared and encourage these activities

Ideas are exchanged in all sorts of ways depending on the situation and the characters involved. All the varied forms of knowledge sharing should be encouraged to ensure that you are getting the most from everybody. For example:

  • Face to face meetings and collaboration: Sometimes the best way to get to the core of a situation is to get some one-on-one time and bounce ideas around. It’s also a fantastic way to get the more shy older members of your team to contribute valuable insights. Setting regular time aside to communicate in this setup is often an important grounding for your knowledge sharing plan.
  • Offsite events or meetings: From company social outings to training events and conferences, changing up the scene is a great way to set collaboration in motion.
  • Presentations: Presenting ideas to a certain team or even the company at large means that everyone can keep up to date with developments and also take the opportunity to learn about things outside their roles.
  • Team sharing times: Whether its an hour every week to go through client updates or a quarterly break down, scheduling a regular opportunity to update everyone on progress keeps the team in the loop.
Outings are a good way to share knowledge. Knowledge can be communicated in a variety of settings.

2. Redesign your office to include more sharing space

Don’t underestimate the impact the physical space has on collaboration. There is nothing like planning a meeting only to find there are no rooms available. Building an office environment that encourages and enables easy collaboration makes knowledge sharing much more possible.

There are two effective ways to do this. One is to provide enough meeting rooms so that those who prefer private and quiet communication have space to carry this out. Secondly setting up common spaces so that employees can sit and work together. This allows casual get togethers and collaborative work to take place with ease.

3. Consider a knowledge sharing platform

A lot of knowledge sharing can be supported by new technology and associated platforms. This takes away many of the manual processes involved with storing information and giving staff access to relevant files and folders. Researching and finding a knowledge sharing software solution could help your company to more efficiently manage information and remove the heavy lifting aspects of processes.

If you’re interested in finding out more about knowledge sharing and streamlining your workforce solutions, get in contact with the experts at Call Design today.

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