If you are like many managers, you want to encourage your staff to document and share knowledge within the organization for the good of both current and future employees. The likelihood that they will do so depends on many factors, including their job role, the industry, the company culture, and the personality of the individual. As a manager, the only cultural factors you can really control are your own behavior and the environment you create with your team.
Here are some ways to encourage employees to share knowledge:
Foster a Positive Culture in Your Company and Department
Lead by example. If you are the CEO or another C-level executive, your actions and attitude will be noticed and modeled by many. Use a lot of positive reinforcement when employees share information that is beneficial to the organization, and be open in terms of sharing your own knowledge. Consider introducing a knowledge sharing platform so that everyone in the company has a central hub where they can upload content that will be useful to others.
Identify Their Passion
People always have most and least favorite parts of their job; this means that there are specific areas in which they feel especially motivated, passionate and excited. If you can identify those areas and find ways for employees to spend more energy there, they will likely reward you with better quality work that they will feel more comfortable sharing. When an employee is doing their best work and sharing it, they lift up the rest of the organization. For example, a successful sales rep could document their methodology so that the rest of the sales team can refer to it and find ways to improve their own approaches.
Paint a Picture
Explain why something needs to be done, not just that it needs doing. Be transparent and keep staff updated on the progress of all projects in which they are involved. If people understand how their work will contribute to a larger project, they will feel more valued and will be more likely to offer creative and insightful solutions.
Make It Easy
Encourage employees to share knowledge by eliminating potential barriers. Not everyone is good at writing or otherwise packaging information for others. In some cases, someone will have knowledge that is important enough that it makes the most sense for someone else to extract it from them. There are many ways to do this including through an interview, by summarizing existing emails and documents, or even filming a demonstration.
Identify and Direct Their Knowledge Sharing Energy
People share what they know in many ways – through emails, hallway conversations, messaging apps, and meetings. Identify people throughout the organization and department who are excited about documenting this knowledge, and ask them to make suggestions about how and where this content should be shared. Offering web-based training for knowledge sharing tools is also a great resource.
Tie Knowledge Sharing To Performance Reviews
If employees know that sharing their knowledge is an expected part of their job that they are being measured on, they will be more likely to share. If you have a knowledge management solution, you might set an expectation that employees share and update certain documents or information on a quarterly basis, or just ask that they contribute or comment at least once a week. The key performance indicators you set should be specific, measurable, and should feel reasonable and achievable to all.
When you encourage employees to share knowledge, you’ll likely see that many of your team members are ready to help. Employees already know how valuable it is to learn from other people’s experience and expertise. Once they see the positive results of sharing their own knowledge, they will become enthusiastic participants in your knowledge sharing community.