It’s not easy to create an office environment where knowledge sharing is a common practice.
One of the most common barriers to sharing knowledge is fear of rejection. If employees think that their ideas will be rejected, they are far less likely to share them. Another problem that inhibits knowledge sharing at the workplace is the hierarchical structure prevalent in many office environments.
Now that you know what the two biggest obstacles to knowledge sharing are, here are 7 tips to help you encourage employees to share their knowledge with others and build an open environment for knowledge exchange that will drive innovation.
1. Learn what’s their passion
It is common for employees to have their most and least favorite parts of a job. There may be areas about which they feel especially passionate and excited. Identify these areas and find a way for employees to spend more of their energy there. You will be rewarded with a higher quality of work and potential pathways for knowledge sharing. For example, a successful social media manager may be able to share their methodology that will benefit other areas of your marketing department.
2. Provide knowledge sharing tools
Knowledge sharing is about creating a specific culture that encourages open communication, and you’ll need specific tools to support that.
For example, you can use a social intranet such as Igloo or Honey that will serve as a platform where employees communicate and exchange information. Slack is an interesting option as well. Even though it doesn’t describe its services as intranet, it contains communication and file-sharing features that are similar to good intranet products.
You can also use a Kanban tool to help employees share knowledge about their workflow process. Kanban is a type of a workflow system that helps to organize tasks into buckets that represent different stages of a process (or example “prototype”, “in development”, or “completed”). Kanbanize and Atlassian offer Kanban tools that were created with organizational needs in mind. Helping employees see what their colleagues are working on will increase transparency in your team but also give your employees greater knowledge about the project’s progress and needs.
Consider tools that will help your team create a knowledge base that can be shared with everyone at the company. A note-taking tool like Evernote is a good investment – when inspiration strikes your employees on the go, they can simply jot down a note in their Evernote app and share it with their coworkers instantly.
3. Lead by example
Nothing works better for encouraging knowledge sharing than good leadership and proper management. If you want employees to be involved, you need to be involved yourself. Be open to sharing your expertise about topics you’re proficient at and try to be transparent when offering advice or best practices to help your employees collaborate and share information.
4. Make knowledge sharing part of performance reviews
When knowledge sharing becomes an expected part of the job that is being measured, employees will approach it in a completely different way. If you implemented a knowledge management solution, you can set an expectation that employees update documents or share information on a given time basis. You can also ask them to contribute or comment at least once a week. Make sure that the objectives you set are reasonable and achievable – if they’re too much, employees may easily get discouraged.
5. Make it easy to share
Sharing knowledge is not only about the tools, but also writing skills. In many cases, employees may have knowledge that is innovative but they’re simply not good at writing down information for others to benefit from. Be flexible and consider different ways of transmitting that knowledge, for instance, in an interview, by summarizing the existing documents, or even filming a demonstration.
6. Reward employees for sharing
When employees are engaged in creating original content and new ideas, the ownership itself is very satisfying. But it’s smart to send them a congratulatory email once in a while or give them a prize for free lunch. Reward your employees for being engaged in your knowledge sharing project. This is how you will be able to sustain the momentum and keep everyone involved in the long run.
7. Organize face-to-face meetings
Traditional brainstorming session are the best way to encourage employees to share their thoughts and ideas. Make sure that your meeting doesn’t end up to be an informal chat where employees just talk about ideas and never implement them. At the end of your meeting, employees should have full clarity about what to do next and how to put these ideas into action.
Use these 7 tips to encourage employees to share their knowledge and build a greater expertise at your workplace – you can be sure that the entire organization will benefit from it.
With her entrepreneurial spirit and a great interest in unique ways of creating and growing a successful business, Elizabeth Lee is currently supporting PACK & SEND, experts in the field of logistics. Feel free to check and verify PACK & SEND on ABN-Lookup.
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