By now, you have likely heard the phrase “departmental silos.” Buzzy as it may be, the silos analogy is a spot on depiction of what occurs within many organizations. As each department grows and develops, each becomes more inclined to operate independently. As growth continues departments become more isolated, blocking the information flow across and between them. So, how do you start breaking down silos in the workplace?
Knowledge management platforms are the key. Knowledge sharing is driving the digital workforce by opening lines of communication and encouraging collaboration across the entire organization. Here are five strategies for breaking down silos in the workplace through knowledge management platforms.
1. Create A Unified Vision
If not every single member of your organization is rowing in the same direction, your boat will not move forward. As departmental silos form and communication becomes more and more restricted, employees often lose sight of the big picture. They become so entrenched in the work of their department (and their department only) that they forget the problem your business exists to solve.
Implementing a knowledge sharing platform allows company leaders to clearly define the organization’s vision, document it, publish it, encourage employees to revisit it, and impress it upon new employees.
2. Empower Social Learning
Social learning in the workplace means your employees learn with and from one another. It occurs when employees exchange ideas, observe each other, and ask questions. It is collaborative and organic. In other words, it’s everything departmental silos are not; social learning is critical for breaking down silos in the workplace.
One obstacle standing between employees and their ability to learn socially from members of other departments is physical distance. As busy as your employees are, they are not likely to regularly leave their desks, walk to another location in the office, and have conversations. And if you have any employees who work remotely, you can forget about it.
A knowledge management solution gives your employees the power of social learning despite the physical distance that separates them. Users can ask members of any department in the organization questions, answer questions, post articles, and documents, comment on posts, “like” posts (similar to social media), and tag others in posts all without having to leave their desk.
3. Make Information as Accessible as It Is in Real Life
When you’re on the hunt for information to solve a problem in your personal life, you are never limited to just one single source of information. Looking for a great restaurant to take your parents who are visiting from out of town? You might ask your friends or coworkers for suggestions. You might look up reviews on Yelp. You might Google “hip, family-friendly restaurants in Austin, TX.” Regardless, the information you need to solve every-day problems is always right at the tips of your fingers.
So why shouldn’t accessing company information be just as easy?
Knowledge sharing platforms simultaneously unite employees and empower them to be independent problem solvers by providing multiple paths to the information they need to do their jobs.
With a knowledge sharing platform that includes a global search feature, users can search for company information within the platform and get fast results just as they do on the web. They can identify experts to seek guidance from in person. They can post questions within the platform and wait for coworkers to respond. Whatever the task at hand may be, a knowledge sharing platform gives users as many paths towards the information they need as they have in the real world.
4. Retain Authority Of Authorship
Knowledge sharing platforms exist to provide employees with a single, consistent source of company knowledge. But this fountain of truth won’t do employees any good if the information that lives within it is, well, not true.
A knowledge sharing platform gives you the best of both worlds. Assign users various levels of authority within the platform. Experts can answer questions, others can ask questions, all can comment or share, etc. to ensure every employee from every department has the power to contribute, while at the same time ensuring what is contributed is accurate, up-to-date, relevant information.
5. Incentivize Collaboration
With a knowledge sharing solution, you can make collaboration fun and rewarding. Use your knowledge management system’s reporting tool to learn who your top collaborators are and reward them. Encourage others to follow their lead by holding collaboration contests. Need ideas for a contest? Offer up a topic that is relevant to the entire company and have each employee share a post relating to that topic. After one week, whoever’s post has the most views, comments, and likes wins.
There are many benefits that will arise as a result of building your digital workforce around a knowledge sharing strategy and breaking down silos in the workplace. Your company will save valuable time and money, streamline existing processes and operations, unify your brand messaging, and encourage a culture of social learning and collaboration as your organization continues to grow.