The foundation of anything great in this world comes from knowledge sharing. It’s a fundamental way to make each other better when attempting to accomplish a common goal. Knowledge sharing among your employees can make the difference between barely scraping by and leading the way by innovation.
If your employees aren’t sharing as much knowledge as you’d like, it’s time to plant the seed and watch that innovation grow.
Through a Mentorship Program
Assigning the most prolific to mentor the ones most in need on specific subjects will make everyone well rounded. Some employees may need to be a mentor as well as receiving mentorship. It all depends on where strengths and weaknesses reside.
Match up your employees effectively and give them specific goals. It’s a two way street where everyone benefits – mentors will feel empowered by your confidence in them, and the people who are struggling will appreciate the extra help.
By Incentivizing Sharing
A lot of things in the workplace can easily be gamified. Knowledge sharing is no exception. There are many ways to directly incentivize the sharing of knowledge, but one of the easiest is with material rewards.
If you allow employees to write up other employees for sharing knowledge, they’ll be as helpful as they can be in order to get that positive write up. Use those positive write ups to name someone as the Knowledge Sharer of the Week – similar to an Employee of the Month, but for smaller good deeds. You can reward them with something simple like a free lunch or a “Get out of work” early card at the end of the week. It doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective.
With Regular Meetings and Gatherings
The more often your employees get together, the more opportunities they’ll have to learn from each other. A combination of both casual and formal meetings will naturally accommodate the exchange of information.
Spaces where employees can openly collaborate are important for this organic knowledge sharing. Create spaces in your office design for employees to work together. If your office is small and designed for independent projects, you might want to find a new office space with more open areas.
Make Constant Communication Easy
When your employees aren’t in a situation where they can make eye contact with each other, how do they communicate? Collaboration apps, social networking groups, and internal instant messaging or texting can keep communication flowing while your employees are working on projects.
Employees will never need to share knowledge more than they do when they’re working together to complete a project. Things will get done faster, there will be less miscommunication or assumption, and employees will be able to get the knowledge they need in real time.
Incorporate It Into The End of a Project
The end of a project is prime time for learning and reflection, no matter how that project went. If things go great, you want to talk about what made the project such a raging success. If things were a little rough, you want to discuss how obstacles and bad habits will be overcome in the future. Worst case scenario, the project fails, and you need to do some forensic exploration of what went wrong. Regardless, you’ll need to evaluate the outcome.
Give everyone a chance to talk about what they learned during the project. Encouraging everyone to discuss what they could have done better, or the skills they developed to help them complete the project will profoundly stimulate knowledge sharing. Everyone is already in a reflective state of mind, and they’ll feel compelled to exchange as much information as possible to create an accurate portrait of the team’s collective strengths and weaknesses.
Create an Employee Written Guide
If you’ve ever needed quick and easy information, you’ve likely used tools like Wikipedia or Wikihow for quick knowledge or tutorials. What if you encouraged employees to create their own knowledge sharing guide similar to those sites? If everyone is encouraged to contribute their special tips and tricks, they’ll feel valued. They’ll see how the knowledge they impart benefits everyone around them.
Another benefit to creating a guide of this nature is that employees will never feel singled out or condescended to about their weaknesses. They can review this knowledge sharing and use it at their own discretion, and having equal opportunity to contribute to the guide validates them in their own skillsets. Everyone will feel empowered and useful.
Be a Knowledge Sharer
Part of being a great leader is strengthening the interactions between your employees, and you get to decide how these interactions are best enhanced. Perhaps the best way to encourage knowledge sharing is by example. If you, as the leader, set a standard for knowledge sharing and collaboration, you’re creating the tone and the environment to inspire others to follow suit. We’re all lifelong learners, and openly sharing what you’ve learned can inspire others.
Some employees will naturally share knowledge with others, while some will need a little more encouragement to open up. Make sure you’re allowing your employees to express their knowledge in the way they most feel comfortable.
About the author:
Michelle Arios is a Project Assistant Manager and Careers Consultant, currently supporting Datastical - an online data library. As a huge fan of self-improvement and constant learning, Michelle might often be found taking online courses or listening to motivational speeches on YouTube. Feel free to reach out to her at @MichelleArios.