Do you know what are the most valuable assets your company has? The answer is employees and their knowledge. Their expertise, experience, original and innovative ideas are necessary for your company’s growth. Without them, the organization can’t be competitive in the market. Thanks to these two elements, you are able to provide one-of-a-kind customer service and enhance the bottom line. Thus, it is in your company’s best interest to encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration on the organizational level.
Give Employees Space
One of the most practical steps towards knowledge sharing involves giving employees much-needed space. It can be a virtual space, such as a communication channel, or a physical one. For example, you can create a space designated specifically for knowledge sharing. While this may sound like an easy step, for most companies it isn’t. Some companies are still using cubicles, which disables employees from opening up and sharing with colleagues. Others have open offices, which at times invades their privacy too much.
The key is to find the right balance between the two. You can try including employees in the creation of such space. They can share ideas that you can use to make a convenient and functional space for collaboration.
Reevaluate Onboarding and Training Methods
What most HR managers don’t realize is that training and onboarding methods play a key role in the knowledge sharing process. They find them tedious and time-consuming. That is why they do only what is absolutely necessary and let new hires adapt to the new work environment by themselves. When it comes to training, managers rarely take time to update materials and use modern teaching approaches.
If you are looking to improve knowledge sharing on an organizational level, you should definitely start with onboarding and training techniques. Have an experienced and hardworking employee take a look at them, reevaluate your strategies, and update them. Besides, why wouldn’t you use an intranet for onboarding and training? It already serves as a knowledge library. All you have to do is maintain it regularly and allow access to new hires.
Collect and Keep Knowledge
The truth about business is that staff members come and go, especially in today’s modern world. While they work for the company, they learn and share knowledge with coworkers. More importantly, once they leave their job, their knowledge and expertise don’t disappear. They are more likely to leave some part behind.
For this reason, an important part of your knowledge sharing strategy should be collecting and keeping that knowledge for others to use. If you don’t collect it, you won’t keep any knowledge when employees move to another company. Therefore, create an online library and make all knowledge accessible to every employee.
No employee will be ready to go above and beyond for their company if there is no trust between them and the management. Therefore, to encourage knowledge-sharing, you first have to develop trust with employees across the organization. Furthermore, the trust you should try to build should be reciprocal. One of the best ways to build trust is by encouraging upward and candid communication instead of downward. Also, employees should know each other well because that is the only way they can grow together as a team and organization.
Offer Rewards to Employees
While knowledge sharing may be a top priority for you, your employees might think differently. Namely, most of them are focused on their personal and professional growth. Some of them are busy with engaging and creative projects. Others are working hard hoping to get promoted soon, so they don’t have enough free time to develop a course or a workshop.
While some may be willing to share wisdom and experience with their coworkers, others might need a slight push in the form of a reward. In this case, you will have to think long and hard about knowledge sharing strategy and what are you willing to offer to your employees in return for their engagement in this process.
Make a Long-Term Strategy
There is one thing managers are usually unaware of. Most knowledge sharing happens behind their back. Employees walk around the office and interact during coffee and lunch breaks, or by the water cooler. Additionally, they exchange information daily through communication channels and in an informal environment after work. To take advantage of everything knowledge sharing has to offer, you might want to consider making it long-term.
The easiest way to make it official and long-lasting is by investing in learning or sharing programs. The selected software can keep track of any training courses you or your employees create and save it for future reference. Besides, virtual employees can benefit from materials as well.
Build a Supportive and Encouraging Culture
If you want your employees to participate in the knowledge sharing process, you will have to build a supportive and encouraging culture. Why? Because employees aren’t willing to share their expertise with others when they feel disrespected and discouraged. For this reason, you should do what you can to make every employee feel respected and valued.
Build a positive corporate culture in which employees can openly share their ideas, express, and be themselves. Moreover, encourage them to freely raise concerns, give feedback, make contributions, and challenge policies and opinions. All these aspects lead to the creation of a healthier work environment, positive atmosphere, and information flow.
On the whole, knowledge sharing is of great value for any company. When employees support and help each other learn new skills and information, great things happen. However, to make this come true, you, as their team leader, should be willing to commit not only resources but also time and energy.