We all know the old adage, “knowledge is power” but what takes that power to whole another level is when we share it.
As a business, your objective is to thrive, not just survive. And while that may sound a bit doom and gloom, the secret is, when you manage knowledge properly and give people a platform to share and access it, you open yourself up to opportunities you didn’t know existed.
In this article, we dive deep into knowledge management and knowledge sharing in the workplace for more effective and productive teams.
Knowledge sharing at work is important for various reasons:
Effective knowledge sharing is one of the pillars of successful organizations. There are various ways you can do this which include:
Instead of blindly searching for ways, ask your team how they want to share knowledge and how they think the workings of the organization can be improved. This could be forums, posts, intranets, or a wiki. However, work has changed quickly--hello remote work!--and there are a plethora of tools from task management apps to CRMs to docs.
A modern intranet should be the glue that brings these together.
This involves training and mentoring employees to do their job well. There’s a slight difference here–this isn’t about telling them how to do their job. It’s about giving them the tools and knowledge that they can use to succeed at their job.
For example, what worked in the past vs what didn’t, data that can help them think in a specific direction, or clearly laying down the expectations.
Encourage a marketing professional to try sales for a few months and vice versa. This will give them an opportunity to better understand how another department functions, its challenges, and strengths. It’ll help broaden their knowledge which eventually will help them succeed in their role.
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” — Denzel Washington
A mentor shares their experience and learning with the team member who needs the guidance and initial push on how to handle certain situations at work and navigate sticky situations and problems. The advice helps the mentee develop the right mindset to perform and be productive.
There are hardly any downsides of sharing knowledge and even if there are, the benefits far supersede them. For example:
Knowledge sharing encourages clear and effective communication between teams which eventually leads to better teamwork.
Employees who share their knowledge with others do not need as much training because they already know how things work in that organization.
The more new things and ideas people learn at work, the more ammunition they have to perform better. It gives them the necessary motivation to do a good job because they have better ideas and it makes them shine among their peers.
With benefits so good, the only question that stands is how to implement knowledge sharing at work. Here are some ways to do that:
Whether it is helping new joiners learn about the company, or teaching someone how to use a certain software; teams should be encouraged to share knowledge at all times. According to a study of 350 companies, longer onboarding programs are associated with stronger talent and business outcomes such as employee engagement, business reputation, quality hires, and the percentage of diverse hires. Promote an open-door policy making it easy for people to reach out and ask how something is done.
A study released by the learning platform provider, Docebo, showed that three out of five employees believed learning opportunities affected their workplace happiness. 36% of those employees surveyed – and nearly half of millennials – would actually consider leaving a job that didn’t offer them any learning opportunities. So, if you’re not providing learning opportunities, it could make it very difficult to hang on to the best talent.
As a team lead, consciously create an environment where everyone feels comfortable asking questions, sharing their experience, and ideas. Start yourself and it’ll eventually flow across teams encouraging teams to participate in training activities that help develop their skills.
You’re using tech to organize your day, your calendar, your life; so why not use it to improve communication across different teams. It can also be used as a tool for knowledge sharing allowing employees to access information quickly and easily.
There are various ways to improve knowledge sharing at work. Some of them include:
1. Asking team members to share their ideas and knowledge with others. For example, if someone is good with a particular software or knows killer productivity tips, ask them to share their ideas with others. This will make them feel good and encourage others to share their ideas.
2. Create an environment of learning. For example, you can block one hour every Friday where the team gets together to learn something new. This serves as a knowledge sharing and a bonding activity.
3. Create a centralized hub where people can share information, ask questions, and interact. Friday is able to do this to help companies stay aligned and share context. It functions as your place for top-down communication, but also a check-in to know what other team members are working on. It's like a modern intranet for the distributed age.
There are two broad strategies:
This is your regular watercooler chit-chat. It involves communication between employees and managers on a daily basis. This could also involve teams sharing their experiences with each other outside of work hours.
This is a more organized way of transferring knowledge in the workplace where employees are given training or seminars to learn new skills and gain more experience from their colleagues.
A culture of collective knowledge sharing in the workplace can go a long way in building more involved and productive teams. Here are a few ways you can use to create the right culture for knowledge sharing:
It’s vital that team members feel comfortable simply interacting with each other in the workplace. According to a McKinsey report, well-connected teams see a productivity increase of 20-25%.
Employees should be encouraged to talk about work-related issues as well as non-work-related ones at all times so that they can share ideas and learn from one another's experiences.
For example, a games night where everyone gets together and plays games. The more time people spend together, the better they get to know each other and the easier it becomes for them to communicate with each other on a professional level when they return to work. Employee retention increases by almost 4.5 times when people can freely communicate with one another.
It is important that people learn as much as they can in order to improve their knowledge and skills at work.
Business productivity increases by 31% when employees are happy. And one of the best ways to keep them happy is to reward them regularly. Here are a few ways to reward knowledge sharing at work:
When team members share their knowledge with each other, it shows their willingness to help others and make them feel comfortable at work. It’s important that people who have shared their knowledge be recognized for the effort they put in so that it encourages others to do the same.
Innovation is introducing new ideas into something old improving upon its functionality or usefulness. To encourage innovation, reward those who come up with new ideas which can help improve the company's performance.
The two key barriers to knowledge management include:
If teams don’t communicate with each other and work in silos, it gets challenging for them to share their knowledge with one another which hinders the company’s growth in the long run.
There’s often a fear among people that once they share their ideas with others, someone else might take advantage of that information and make them redundant. This basically shows a lack of trust within teams which isn’t good for the organization.
Instead, with asynchronous weekly check-ins, one-on-ones, and team updates, workers will feel empowered to share what is happening and pass on more details than they may do in a typical large company meeting.
Communication is the key tool for knowledge sharing. When people talk to each other about their work and non-work-related issues, it helps them share ideas improves the quality of their work in the long run.
Types of tools to consider:
All of these tools have their pros and cons, depending on your company. If you want to invest in an async-first mindset, consider this tech stack.
For too long, knowledge sharing has been relegated to the dustbin of knowledge management software and wikis.
Friday aims to change that with an approach that makes knowledge sharing more immediate. With team check-ins, posts, goals, a planner, and more the concept of knowledge sharing takes on a whole new dimension.
What do we mean?
Think of it this way--where are the most important things at work? And how often are they accessed?
You can do this at Friday without relegating your value and culture away from your everyday, daily work.
It’s easy to get started, too. Sign up for an account and invite your team.
When it comes to knowledge sharing, there’s no one size fits all. Throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.
A company’s most valuable resource is the knowledge of its people. Your business idea and processes may get you far but what will take you to the top is the people and their knowledge that makes magic happen.
When teams share their knowledge, your company reaps the benefits of everybody’s intelligence. That is why knowledge management plays a fundamental role in business success.