Sometimes, your company has all the tools it needs and the employees to use them. However, you still have issues with knowledge management. The reason could be that there’s no culture relating to knowledge sharing.
Most company owners feel that they can buy knowledge management software and expect the problem to go away. However, knowledge sharing is much more than that.
In fact, it’s relevant to growing companies because you get more from your employees and automate much of the process. However, without the knowledge-sharing culture, productivity suffers, and there never seems like enough time to do things.
How can you fix the problem? The first thing is to understand what knowledge management is and its benefits. Then, you need to create a knowledge base and choose the right knowledge management software to keep things running smoothly.
If you don’t, you run the risk of being called non-transparent. With that, you don’t have communication from the leaders, which could lead to various problems.
What Is Knowledge Management?
Many people incorrectly believe that knowledge management is just a collection of the processes governing the creation and leverage of knowledge to fulfill the company’s goals. However, it’s much more than that.
In a sense, you should look at knowledge management as being a business philosophy. It’s the set of processes, principles, technology applications, and organizational structures that allow people to share knowledge and leverage it to meet the goals of the company.
Though both sets of definitions are similar, the first one limits it to a specific set of principles. However, you need a holistic view and must make way for changes to the rules.
To create a knowledge-sharing culture, you must understand that this is just the beginning. Those tools are used throughout the organization. With that, there are incentive structures applied so that everything continues.
Benefits of Knowledge Sharing
- Drives continuous improvement and innovation for your business – Having a knowledge base ensures that the team is always improving the way they do things. With that, people can take what they learn and transform it into new things that build on the old.
- Employee growth and retention – Most companies want to increase revenue, but this is hard because of the competition. With the right knowledge management software, employees have access to crucial information to drive better results, seeing growth go smoothly and happen sooner.
- Easy documentation of the organization’s internal knowledge – Productivity is the name of the game here. Your knowledge base should have everything a person needs, and it’s easy to document everything with appropriate knowledge management software. That way, those processes become standard.
- Keep up with the competition as you accelerate changes – Companies shouldn’t stay the same with stagnant ideas and methodologies. As you start making changes, you can still keep up with your competition because you’re doing things in a way that helps employees stay focused.
- Employees feel safer and more comfortable sharing ideas – Many times, employees stay silent, even if they have an idea. However, with a culture of knowledge sharing, they feel safe to say what they feel and get comfortable doing it with time.
- Increases productivity – Instead of employees having to call for assistance and wait long periods, one of the ways you can boost employee efficiency at work is by giving them access to the internal knowledge base to get information. This saves them a lot of time, and they can often do it while they are on a call.
How to Promote a Culture of Knowledge Sharing
1. Install an internal knowledge base
The first step in promoting a culture based on knowledge sharing is to install a knowledge base. This is only used for your employees and personnel. Later, you can create one for end-users of your products and services.
You need the right knowledge management software because it helps you keep track of what you’ve got. It’s easier to rearrange things and make changes as necessary.
Nothing is set in stone, so things are likely to change. Therefore, it’s important to update the knowledge base as this occurs. That way, people always have updated information.
There’s no need to reduce productivity to look up information. Now, you can keep everything in one convenient location!
2. Encourage knowledge sharing by being an example
There was a time in the past where employees were expected to keep their heads down and stay quiet all day.
However, the workplace has changed, with collaboration being crucial. Still, everyone might not feel comfortable about the knowledge they have or ways to share it effectively.
This means that you must realize where they are now and help them begin the process of changing.
Make time for the employees to talk to each other in person. Some are likely to jump right in, sharing ideas. Encourage this behavior. However, you should also be the example and talk about things that everyone should know.
Share information with the employees regularly. As you do this from the top-down, workers see that everyone is embracing the culture of knowledge sharing.
3. Create a reward system for active participation
You’ve realized that working in a knowledge-sharing culture isn’t natural for some people. Therefore, you should give the employees an incentive or reward to talk about what they know. They can also share relevant content online with the team.
Anyone who participates during a specific time frame gets a reward. If you do this, every person who shares something receives a small gift.
You can also take the names of all the participants and put them in a drawing for a big prize. The contest might last longer so that everyone has a chance to share (and more ways to win).
Think of interesting prizes, such as backpacks, shirts, mugs, and more. You can also go for a bigger item if you want.
4. Correct employees and let them know committing mistakes are fine
The goal is to create an environment where everyone shares ideas freely and can collaborate without holding anything back. To do that effectively, they have to understand that mistakes are normal. This is the way that everyone learns.
If the managers only talked about the practices that worked well, employees could feel that there was no room for a mistake. They might be afraid of falling short of that mark for the goal and not participate.
Instead, make sure that you share various stories that include what worked and what didn’t. Focus on what the company can learn from those mistakes. That way, as things progress, everyone feels confident and comfortable.
5. Design a good onboarding process and mentorship
People take time to adjust to new things. Knowledge sharing isn’t new, but creating a culture of it is something foreign to most people. They aren’t asked their opinions and never have been.
Therefore, they don’t know how to react.
Attracting the best talent is crucial, but you often lose time when the newbie is nervous about sharing their skills and knowledge upfront.
The goal is to make them feel comfortable with the organization from the beginning as they move through the employee onboarding process. That way, they know their value.
Assign them a mentor so that they can go to that person with concerns and questions at any time. Make sure it’s not an immediate supervisor because that can make the newbie feel uncomfortable or judged.
Choose someone who sets good examples and encourages the new person to speak their mind. That way, they contribute immediately.
6. Open your meetings for active collaboration
As a company owner, you know how crucial meetings are. However, most people just break down the points and move on. Instead, take the time to ask your employees for direct input at this time.
The best way to know what they’re thinking is to ask. Since everyone is likely required to attend, this is the perfect time and place!
Don’t think that colleagues don’t have valuable ideas or knowledge just because they have less experience in the industry or haven’t been there for 20+ years. It’s essential to gather feedback and opinions from your peers.
7. Implement social gatherings within your team
It’s unhealthy to only focus on work all the time. While the team goes home each night, there are ways to work in some social activity with the group.
Schedule fun things that the employees can do on the weekend or after work. It shouldn’t be mandatory, and it shouldn’t be all the time. However, those who participate get to know each other outside of the office.
A culture of knowledge sharing is crucial for the workplace. It instills a sense of calm and peace for the employees because they know they can get information when it’s needed.
With that, it saves a lot of time, boosts productivity, and keeps employees happy. When they can get the information they need, they’re more confident and willing to do their jobs well.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to work on your knowledge base. This includes all of the documents and information people can read to find the right answers. Using appropriate knowledge management software ensures that everything is organized and ready when employees need it.