How many working hours have your employees wasted looking for answers that already exist, repeating mistakes and doing the same things over and over again? According to the study of McKinsey Global Institute, an average worker spends almost half of the week just managing emails and looking for internal information. Not as productive as you’d like them to be, right?
Fortunately, there is a way to tackle this problem and that is a knowledge sharing culture. Some companies claim to have it, some simply don't have one. Whatever your situation is, this article will help you break down inner-office barriers and achieve more collaborative environment.
So, what steps are needed to be taken to increase knowledge sharing among your employees?
Set an example
Be the change you want to see. Nothing will encourage your team to share knowledge more, than the attitude and behavior of upper-level colleagues. Hence, make sure the executives contribute to developing a knowledge sharing culture, too.
Use leaders of the company as ‘evangelists’ and let their experience become the source of motivation for the juniors. Remember: it’s not only the manuals that help employees gain new information. It’s the personal success stories which make them inspired, optimistic, and more productive.
Stick to the half-open door policy
Most of the time people are literally afraid to ask others for help because it means they don’t know something important. So instead of turning to their colleagues or mentors, they simply work in isolation struggling for days and making new mistakes.
In order to prevent that, try to keep your door half-open. Encourage the team members to talk about their problems, arrange one-on-one meetings, and cultivate an environment of trust in every possible way. As soon as your employees feel free to walk up to their colleagues without a fear of being judged or mocked, they will gladly open up and share knowledge in return.
But why half-open? Because the wide-open door policy doesn’t work anymore. As Karen Baetzel, CEO of BattleAxe and retired Navy pilot says, "I think it is an invitation to organizational turmoil. What I think is much better policy is a 'half-open door,' and when I was Commanding Officer, I would use it a lot."
Make a game out of it
Gamification is a great tool for motivation nowadays and it is effectively used in lots of organizations to promote knowledge sharing as well. So if you haven't thought about it yet, it’s the right time to consider implementing a system of points or some kind of reward program for learning vicariously.
It will generate curiosity and interactivity among the team members, and even may double the positive effect if you decide to provide employees with a monetary bonus. “Even though such approach brings a radical change in traditional business environment, it definitely makes knowledge management work”, — explains Jason Galaif, an associate attorney at RJS LAW and the founder of Cpaexamguy.
Create a centralized knowledge base
Keep all the information at one place so your employees wouldn't get lost among multiple tools and databases. Ideally, that place should be available any time and accessible on various devices so people can look for information even at home or while riding a subway
However try to avoid tools that have the same roadmap as social networks, especially if you have a young working team. Otherwise, you'll face employees being even less productive and sharing not quite that kind of knowledge that you intended them to.
Convert offline to online
Transform corporate knowledge into digital form. Scan handwritten learning materials, record training programs, and workshops, etc. Simply put, make everything your organization does offline available online.
And do not underestimate traditional knowledge sharing activities like meetings. A lot of key information is mentioned there. So don't forget to designate someone responsible for taking notes and converting them to digital. The employees who couldn't join you will highly appreciate this initiative.
Linking knowledge to a real colleague helps to increase its value and chances it will be actually applied by your employees. Thus “John William’s Cold Calling Techniques” will be shared among them way better than a guide written by a bunch of no-name authors.
Moreover, putting the name on the title makes those team members who contributed the knowledge feel admired and cherished. It does not only maintain their sense of ownership and responsibility but answers the “who will get the credit” question. Plus, if you don’t want to highlight each employee individually, you can always honor the whole team.
Prepare your office space for conversation
Designing office space is not the first thing that you would think of when trying to increase knowledge sharing. Nevertheless, do not underestimate the impact of physical workplace on the relationships among your team members.
Draw an analogy from fast food restaurants. Their main purpose is to move clients through as quickly as possible. Hence they create an environment that discourages long conversations and increases the flow of customers at the same time.
Whereas your goal is to achieve the opposite effect, create a space that will encourage collaboration. For instance, set up a few coffee stations in the office so the employees could chat a bit while waiting on their tea to brew. Or place a couple of casual group seatings in busy common spaces to make your office more social-friendly.
As you can see, knowledge sharing is essential for a corporation to be run smoothly and effectively. Valuable information exchanged within the team enhances the performance of the company and supports a healthy professional relationship. So start laying the foundation for knowledge sharing as soon as it’s possible and impressive results won't be long in coming.
Author : Silvia is an HR manager and freelance writer. She helps people write the perfect resume and land a desirable job. She is also an active guest contributor. Sylvia’s writing has been featured on Forbes, Next Avenue, TLNT and more.