How to encourage employees to share their knowledge
Knowledge is power. No matter your organization's size, a quality leader always looks for ways to get employees to share their expertise.
But how do you encourage experience and knowledge sharing in the workplace? In this article, we'll go through a few handy tips and ideas to motivate team leaders and break down communication barriers.
The importance of having a knowledge-sharing culture
All companies have a culture that guides employee behavior, whether it’s formally defined or not. You could choose to have a culture of rivalry where workers compete with each other, or alternatively take the path of collaboration and sharing ideas. The second will almost always produce better results because team members know they can depend upon each other.
A culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing can give your business a competitive advantage. A workplace that fosters collaboration helps people understand that they aren’t expected to know everything, being encouraged to have a “seeker mindset”.
You don't need to make a large investment in training or infrastructure to improve the knowledge-sharing process. If your company wants to encourage this approach, you can try many activities to help you achieve a smarter, more unified force.
Tips and ideas for encouraging more knowledge-sharing
A knowledge-sharing culture works in two main directions: horizontally between team members and vertically between workers and leaders. Knowledge should also flow between departments and industry partners, too. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to incentivize knowledge sharing.
Establish an open-door policy
Open communication fosters trust. Employees who know they can approach someone else anytime with questions or information will feel more supported and understood.
It's important to let your workers know it's okay to make mistakes. If you spend too much time focused on practices that have done well for the company, you might give a false impression that someone falling short of the mark is something that cannot be tolerated. When you do a balance or retrospective, make sure you include not just the triumphs but also the mistakes and how you were able to overcome them.
Recognize and reward employees who share their knowledge
The days when employees worked isolated from each other are over; today’s workplace runs on collaboration. However, not everyone is comfortable sharing what they know. Imagine for example a software engineer that understands old source code nobody else can get around. Sometimes, long-term employees worry that sharing their hard-earned experience might make them less valuable.
A good idea therefore to promote and encourage sharing practices is to reward the employees or teams that make an effort. To capitalise on this, make sure you provide them with a platform to share, such as quarterly business review meetings, ensuring that you single out significant contributors for praise.
Make knowledge sharing a game
Another good way to run knowledge-sharing activities is to use games or social events for employees, as it can be easier to share knowledge in casual settings. More importantly, games and events can help people get to know each other and make sharing ideas, working in remote teams, or establishing working practices easier.
Ask your employees for direct input
The best way to understand what your employees are thinking is to simply ask them. Don't assume they have the information you require. Instead, try to collect feedback from different teams and individuals and turn it into collaboration.
If your company culture did not focus on promoting knowledge sharing before, keep in mind changing this might take some time. You should always give employees some time to adjust and let them know they are valued.
Tailor your training
Make sure your training programs are appealing and engaging, drawing content from existing staff closest to the domain. Although many employees will read onboarding materials just once, encourage them to periodically return to them to check whether they are following the right processes. It's always a good idea to invest in a platform that makes these materials easy to navigate.
Use knowledge-sharing tools to manage knowledge transfer
If your employees spend a lot of time trying to find valuable information in their first few months, consider using a transition management system that can streamline sharing knowledge about day-to-day work. It can be a handy tool for offboarding, onboarding, and knowledge sharing in general.
If you want to encourage a culture of collaboration and sharing in the workplace, you don’t need to make a large investment. All you need are initiatives designed to foster cooperation and, ideally, a knowledge-sharing tool that can simplify the process.