Convincing colleagues to share knowledge across a team or company has become a battle. People fear that if they share what they know, they will no longer be a valuable asset to their organization. What they fail to realize is that sharing their knowledge earns them a sort of “social currency” which makes them more valuable to their organization.
If you’ve been trying to determine how to become valuable at work, the first step is to encourage a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing. The following are a few best practices to encourage knowledge sharing across your team, department, and company:
Don’t Be a Knowledge Hoarder
A knowledge hoarder is someone who may think they are the most experienced or well-informed in their organization and that they therefore have no need to seek information from anyone else– or share their knowledge. This is a dangerous attitude that can seriously hurt company productivity. Hoarding information can cause others to unnecessarily repeat the same processes, or work less efficiently than they otherwise could. And when a knowledge hoarder retires or otherwise leaves the company, their experience-based knowledge may be gone for good.
If you find yourself getting into the mentality of a knowledge hoarder, remind yourself that you are likely missing out on the benefits of the knowledge your colleague’s have gained from their unique experiences and skills. Make a conscious effort to collaborate with co-workers, whether it’s in person or through a knowledge sharing platform. Leading the charge to make your workplace a more collaborative environment will help you add value to the organization as a whole.
Make the Most of Internal Knowledge
If you’re hung up on a task or project because you don’t have the information you need, ask yourself: Do I need to go outside my organization to learn what I need? Or does the knowledge already exist internally? Let’s consider two scenarios: you decide to look for an external source that can answer your question and end up spending a significant part of your day Googling your question or reaching out to experts. Alternatively, you search for information you need within your internal community and end up finding clear documentation much more quickly.
If your organization is already doing a good job of centralizing information, take advantage of that internal knowledge to do your job better and more efficiently. If your company isn’t doing a good job of sharing information, be part of the push to develop a knowledge sharing strategy.
Share Across Departments
Collaboration shouldn’t just happen within teams. When searching for information, consider looking within another department in your organization. You might be amazed by what you can learn from people inside your company with whom you don’t directly work. For example, if you’re in marketing and need to update the FAQ page on your site, the customer service team should be able to tell you what questions they regularly get from customers. Or perhaps another department has already developed a process that your team can use to do your jobs better. When you collaborate across departments, you’re expanding your knowledge base and establishing a new trusting relationship, which will set you up for future opportunities to collaborate.
Tap Into Your Customers’ Knowledge Base
Customers can provide great insight into what needs to be improved within a company. They can provide feedback about what works and what doesn’t work, who the best customer service reps are, and they can even drive the future of the business with feature requests or product suggestions. You and your co-workers will be able to do a better job of delivering what your customers want when you listen to them: pay attention to survey results, interviews, online reviews, and even brand mentions on social media.
When considering how to become valuable at work, you need to remember that it’s not about outperforming your co-workers: it’s about collaborating to deliver the best results for the business and its customers or clients. The smart leaders in your organization understand the value of sharing knowledge and will therefore recognize and encourage such behavior. What you should understand is that the most valuable ‘thing’ you can bring to their organization is your ability to share what you know.