No matter the size of your organization, human capital is your most important asset. People are retainers and traders of crucial business knowledge and first-hand experience. So it's no wonder that knowledge sharing can leverage the strengths in your organization.
More and more companies (T-Mobile, Kellogg’s, Nielsen) are embracing a knowledge management process. They see the inherent knowledge within their workforce as a vital resource that is well worth tapping into.
With minimal investment in training and infrastructure, companies stand to gain a smarter, more unified workforce when they encourage knowledge sharing. Yet, there are still some obstacles, with lack of time and motivation among employees being the main concerns. There is also the question of finding the right tools to facilitate knowledge sharing.
As the font line leads for employees' day to day work, managers and supervisors can be instrumental in promoting knowledge sharing as a daily part of work life. In this article, we look at five ways in which team leads can turn their employees into a knowledge sharing unit. Share this article with the team managers within your organization.
1. Make knowledge sharing part of business as usual
The more routine knowledge sharing becomes, the lower the threshold and the likelier employees will be to take part. It is important to make knowledge sharing an essential part of the job description for employees. Make it clear during the hiring process that new employees will be expected to contribute to the shared knowledge pool. This gets things off on the right foot from day one.
Set aside time each week for a knowledge sharing session, in which you and your team sit down to talk about lessons learned and insights gained. Facilitate an open discussion, in which employees feel relaxed and free to talk openly about what they know. You’ll also want to assign regular time slots for key members (subject matter experts) to take time off the work floor to write or update learning content.
2. Incentivize knowledge sharing
One of the main benefits of knowledge sharing is that it is often perceived as inherently rewarding. You don’t have to increase an employee’s salary to get them to share their knowledge with others. Instead, the prestige of being recognized by their peers as an expert is usually enough of a reward in itself.
To leverage this, make sure employees are credited for the knowledge they share. Prominently display their names as authors on any learning content they contribute to, for example. Single them out during team meetings and praise them for their contributions.
3. Make knowledge sharing user-friendly
The best way to share knowledge today is to use e-learning software and online platforms like Easygenerator. This enables employees to author and publish learning content for their coworkers. To get the most out of knowledge sharing and ensure high participation, your knowledge sharing software must be simple to master. No one enjoys using clunky, counter-intuitive software. Opt for a stable, cloud-based solution with zero learning curve and a user-friendly, what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface.
4. Embrace microlearning
One reason why employees may be resistant to sharing their knowledge is that they don’t realize how valuable it is. Even very small, specific pieces of specialized knowledge can contribute to the effectiveness of the team. It is important to establish a culture in which no piece of information is considered too small to share. This is very much in line with the trend of microlearning, in which small nuggets of information are shared using digital media.
Use e-learning authoring software that facilitates microlearning. That means your authoring tool needs to be mobile-friendly, and include options for uploading screen captures and videos. This way, employees can easily author and share small tips and tricks that make a big difference.
5. Lead by example
As a manager, you have a strong influence over your team. Your actions speak louder than your words, too. That’s why it’s important for you not only to “tell” your team to share their knowledge but also to “show” them that you are doing it yourself. It’s a question of practicing what you preach.
Often you will be the first person within your team to receive new knowledge (about an upcoming product launch, updates to company policies, etc.). Be transparent and informative about information like this. Share what you know and create an open exchange in which your team feels free to approach you and ask questions. This sets the tone for the strong knowledge-sharing culture you are trying to establish.
Results that speak for themselves
Every organization stands to gain from embracing a knowledge management process. Knowledge sharing saves time and money and enables you to educate your team on a rolling basis. Best of all, the knowledge is based on real-life business insights. Encouraging your team to share their vital on-the-job experiences ensures that everyone can benefit.
The result is a smarter, more cohesive team. And since knowledge sharing is inherently rewarding, it boosts engagement, making your organization the kind of place where people feel appreciated and enjoy working. Remember to set the right tone as a manager, and your team will soon be enjoying all of these benefits.