Adjusted knowledge sharing processes bring significant benefits for organizations:
- Make tacit knowledge accessible to everyone, especially newcomers.
- Improve decision-making.
- Help you repurpose accumulated knowledge and expertise.
- Prevent organizations and teams from repeating mistakes and invest extra efforts in finding workable solutions.
- Break the “silos effect.”
- and more.
And knowledge sharing boosts learning in the workplace. 55% of employees prefer peer learning to learning from their top management. This blog post will review knowledge-sharing best practices that won’t cost an arm and a leg to reap all the benefits we mentioned above. Let’s read on!
1. Set the purpose
It’s hard to get buy-in from colleagues if they don’t understand the purpose and key benefits of ideas you pitch.
That’s why step one in your knowledge-sharing program is to set clear goals, outline the key benefits, and inform people at all levels: from employees to top management. Here are some proven techniques you could use:
- Build a knowledge-sharing process in your corporate culture. Many companies make knowledge sharing a part of their identity. They encourage their employees to ask questions, share insights, and step in whenever they see they could improve the knowledge-sharing process at their company.
- Communicate the purpose of knowledge sharing. Explain in simple words why you’d want to set up knowledge sharing at your company: to easily onboard new hires, save time explaining the same things all over again, share expertise, avoid crippling the working process despite a turnover, and so on.
- Set tangible goals. Treat your knowledge-sharing process like any other project by setting SMART goals with clear timelines, objectives, and KPIs.
2. Close the objections
Even though knowledge sharing is meant to impact the organizations positively, employees often demonstrate a lack of engagement and interest.
Common concerns include the threat of disbalance between working time and knowledge sharing activities or lack of motivation.
To get people collaborating and sharing their knowledge with peers, close common objections like:
“Do I contribute to corporate knowledge sharing during my working time or in my free time?”
“What if I don’t have time?”
“What do I personally get by contributing to the company’s knowledge base?”
“What if my colleagues criticize my work?”
“Are there any negative consequences of punishments for my contribution?”
Below, we’ll review some of the engagement techniques that allow you to build a sense of trust in your employees and motivate them to build a professional community within an organization.
3. Recognize your employees
Introducing knowledge sharing best practices and handing over the tools to your employees isn’t enough. The statistics are discouraging: 64% of employees don’t use the learning management initiatives and platforms at their organizations.
Xerox walked in those shoes too. They introduced Eureka – the custom-build knowledge management platform that allowed software engineers to share their ready-made solutions and templates. Even though the idea was promising, the company spotted low engagement from employees. As a result, the Xerox team enabled employees to add their names in the added solutions that incentivized them to generate more content and build their professional image globally. This trick resulted in a 10% reduction in workforce costs and about 80% input growth every week.
Material recognition (or rewards) find their use too. Here’s how companies incentivize their employees to transfer knowledge:
- Gamify the process with leaderboards, ratings, stars, titles, etc., gained for each contribution like an event or added wiki file.
- Introduce a points system that allows employees to exchange gained points for valuable gifts.
- Organize special events to celebrate and acknowledge people for their proactive participation.
- Publish regular newsletters to recognize employees and their achievements in knowledge-sharing activities.
- Devise a peer recognition program that’ll create a sense of healthy competition.
Indeed, this isn’t a final list knowledge sharing best practices that incentivize employees. You can use our ideas or tweak them to fit in your corporate culture and team spirit.
4. Build a safe space for knowledge exchange
Building trust in the workplace and creating a safe environment for ideas exchange is a native way to encourage knowledge sharing. For example, Facebook recognizes the importance of psychological safety. In the podcast Knowledge Sharing: A Sneak Peek into Facebook’s Engineering Teams, Balázs Balázs (ex-Engineering Manager at Facebook) reveals that Facebook encourages employees to ask questions and to admit they don’t know all the answers.
Needless to say, that their engineering team implements additional knowledge-sharing best practices. For example, they are connecting knowledge sharing with other personal development goals like public speaking. Thus, employees kill two birds with one stone, developing several expertise domains at once and contributing to the knowledge-sharing process.
5. Tweak different content formats
What comes to your mind when you think of knowledge-sharing formats? Google Drive folders loaded with files or webinars? Well, these content formats are indeed popular. However, you could spice up a game with different content formats like:
- Documentation. This approach works well in software development teams that need to accumulate their expertise to analyze code inconsistencies and prevent them in the future.
- Internal wikis.
- Mentoring and coaching.
- Knowledge sharing platforms.
- Swipe file. Do you know this feeling when your colleague shares a helpful link, and you forget about it right away? Try a swipe file: a shared file or a workspace where your team shares their valuable finds. Yes, a swipe file resembles a dump of everything your colleagues found interesting but going through it from time to time might be inspiring and insightful.
At Buffer, a remote-first company, employees occasionally record Impromptu Knowledge Screencasts to share some “behind the scenes” of software development and fulfill a learning purpose. As an alternative, the Buffer team records GIFs to save time explaining the solution on a call or in a chat. Such effortless content formats allow a software development team to accumulate expertise, save time on explanation, and engage everyone in the knowledge-sharing process.
6. Measure the results
At first glance, knowledge sharing might seem too formal to measure. But, as a data-driven company, we believe that every HR process can be digitalized, measured, and analyzed.
Here are the common quantitative metrics to measure in your knowledge sharing campaign:
- A number of contributions per employee.
- A number of interactions (subscriptions, downloads, likes, implementations in real life, and so on).
- Time spent on onboarding and training of new hires.
In a nutshell, the metrics must answer critical questions like:
“Do we add value to our organization?”
“Do employees willingly participate in this process?”
“What gaps can we detect, and is there room for improvement?”
The knowledge-sharing best practices loop looks like this:
- Inform employees on the purpose and goals.
- Engage everyone from top to down.
- Create a safe space for collaboration, asking questions, and sharing the answers.
- Measure the outcomes and improve the process constantly.
With the right tools at hand, knowledge sharing could be dramatically simplified. Here at HRForecast, we’ve developed an all-in-one platform, smartPeople, that allows you to manage your workforce’s skills and knowledge. Check it out by the link or book us for a free demo, so we could show you all the benefits you could reap with smartPeople.