If you have never experienced a company culture where departments felt like silos, you’re lucky. Most of us can tell horror stories about Being the Last to Know or being in the dark about what goes on in other departments. Bloomfire is a tool for a knowledge sharing workplace, but what if people aren’t willing to share? Some research shows us that human instinct to share knowledge is sometimes thwarted by the human instinct to look out for number one.
In a 2011 article published by the Journal for Organizational Behavior, the authors pose the question: Why don’t companies investing in knowledge-transfer software see more of an improvement in their information flow? One big reason, according to their research, is that some employees simply won’t share what they know. “Often, they balk because they don’t trust their colleagues and they want to protect their own interests or those of their company. Other times, the motivation is more personal: Employees want to undermine or retaliate against a co-worker.”
This is about culture, team and everyone striving for the same goal. When a superior NFL squad takes the field on Sunday, do you think that the inside linebackers don’t know what is happening on special teams? Of course they do. In order to win, every player must understand the game from every angle and trust their teammates. Business culture is no different and companies that do not support regular interaction and open dialogue are at risk for losing a lot of games.
The very root of social enterprise technology is to create a culture of engagement, openness and transparency. In the July report by the McKinsey Global Institute, Michael Chui writes, “To reap the full benefit of social technologies, organizations must transform their structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and nonhierarchical and to create a culture of trust. Ultimately, the power of social technologies hinges on the full and enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected. Creating these conditions will be far more challenging than implementing the technologies themselves.”
Is your company up to the challenge?