The conventional practices of working have changed in this 21st century. People cannot just stay as a specialist for a single area in the workplace anymore. These days, many people attend Agile Management certification courses online to learn the art of agility or how to become more adaptive at workplaces, which is a brilliant idea! They must have at least a preliminary knowledge of the job functions of other people in their company.
Both companies and employees reap the benefits of knowledge sharing. The idea of collaboration establish in almost all sectors, and all the team members expect to possess a minimum level of knowledge about the functions, apart from their respective specializations. Collaboration between different sectors of team members accomplishes by sharing knowledge and a willingness to receive such knowledge to learn.
What is Knowledge Sharing?
So, what exactly is knowledge sharing? Are the office gossip knowledge sharing?? Well, they're not!! Knowledge sharing is the transfer of beneficial information between people, teams, departments or even business units, which enhances employees' productivity and processes at the workplace. Through knowledge sharing, organizations can achieve their goals, and systematic methods for knowledge sharing should be in place.
'Lessons Learnt Register' maintained by many companies is an example of systematic knowledge-sharing methods. Knowledge sharing involves the transfer of both tangible and tacit information. It can be sharing documents, photographs, website links, or a short talk in which an employee explains an experience. We will discuss more such methods in the coming paragraphs, especially organizational knowledge sharing, which elaborates on knowledge sharing in the workplace.
Seven Ways to Improve Knowledge Sharing in the Workplace
In one way or another, we all do knowledge sharing in our organizations knowingly or unknowingly. Most of the time, we have not noticed this. But now it's time to concentrate on knowledge sharing and to make it better to improve individually and collectively in an institution. Following are some of the ways through which you can enhance knowledge sharing in your workplaces.
1. Create a Vision
To achieve something through the strategy of knowledge sharing, an organization should be clear about what they need to attain, how they have to achieve it, what they need to succeed in it, how to implement a system for that and how to measure and evaluate the benefits. A thorough study helps to come up with a roadmap to achieve the desired goals through knowledge sharing.
2. Provide Awareness Among the Employees
Once the company management is clear about its vision of knowledge sharing, it should educate its employees about this new concept. Knowledge sharing examples should be demonstrated to the employees by senior management. They should correctly interpret knowledge sharing meaning. A thorough understanding should be provided to the employees, and their feedback should be taken. So, the company management will be sharing knowledge with its employees to make them aware of the concept of knowledge sharing and the company's vision on that.
3. Implement a Knowledge Sharing System
For adequate knowledge sharing and to achieve the company's ideals, a proper system for the internal transfer of knowledge should be executed in an organization. An example is a 'lessons learnt register. It can be posted on the notice board of a company, or it can be maintained as a book placed in a commonplace in the company. The employees can update that register when they learn something new so that others can refer to that book during their break time. This can also be implemented as an online dashboard in the intranet system.
Weekly meetings, particularly for knowledge-sharing sessions at different levels of an organization, may be scheduled so that people can form small groups for half an hour to one hour on such knowledge sharing platforms in a week without disrupting their work to exchange their tacit experiences and useful information. Someone can be assigned to ensure that this time is used judiciously. Companies can also collect and compile information from the employees and send a weekly newsletter to all with the relevant information selected.
4. Train the Employees
When a new system is introduced in an organization, only the policymakers or the top management will be aware of how to implement it and reap its benefits. So, the awareness of the implementation part should be passed on to the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy through planned training programs. Employees should be educated on knowledge-sharing topics such as what kind of information is useful for their colleagues, how to share their tacit and explicit knowledge with others securely, and what kind of information shall not be shared with others. Simply asking the employees to share knowledge may expose trade secrets and confidential information to unauthorized people.
5. Encourage the Employees
Most people don't want a colleague to become their competitor in the workplace. Providing additional information to coworkers will give them an extra edge, particularly if they are smart and when you are trying to outperform them to keep your position safe in the company! So, companies should eliminate such insecurities from their employees in the first place. For that, a healthy work culture should be implemented, where all the employees are rightfully recognized and appreciated for their contributions and efforts to improve their work. Managers should be trained properly to act professionally and equally with everyone under their supervision.
This will convey a message that unnecessary office politics would not work. Moreover, it would get noticed if they try to improve the company by helping others within the company. Also, they will be appreciated and rewarded for that. These steps will encourage the employees to comfortably share information and educate others for the company's betterment. Knowledge sharing will work only if the employees willingly and sincerely do that. So, when people find that they are a priority for their company, they will also take things seriously to improve the company culture rather than simply finishing their designated work.
Agile management systems can implant the values of knowledge sharing among the employees. KnowledgeHut's online agile management certification is an excellent program for learning agile management, in which many knowledge sharing tools can be learned. It also covers knowledge sharing in knowledge management, the latest topics for knowledge sharing, types of knowledge sharing, knowledge sharing culture, ideas for knowledge sharing activities, knowledge sharing best practices, knowledge sharing session ideas, knowledge sharing strategy, etc.
6. Reward the Employees
When a company hires a person to act in a position and perform some particular duties, they must do only those agreed tasks. Legally or ethically, they have no obligation to do something for which they are not paid. Knowledge sharing is something that the company additionally demands from their employees, apart from their agreed job responsibilities in the job offer.
Even though knowledge sharing benefits both company and employees substantially, the companies make direct money out of knowledge sharing done by employees. In the long run, organizations are benefitted in many ways. For instance, new recruitments can be controlled by utilizing the existing workforce optimally, using their enhanced knowledge and skills. This will reduce the overhead costs of companies as the existing people can manage to perform more tasks with their newly learned skills and knowledge.
Companies can offer rewards for people sharing more relevant information through the lessons learned register or by addressing others in knowledge-sharing meetings. This will encourage employees to come forward to contribute more.
7. Review and Improve the System
All systems in an organization should be subjected to continuous review and improvement, and implementing a knowledge-sharing system is no different. The effectiveness and outcomes of the system should be continuously monitored, recorded and evaluated. The performance and impact of employees before and after the knowledge-sharing implementation can be compared and analyzed. Also, surveys can be conducted among the people for their feedback.
Benefits of Knowledge Sharing in the Workplace
We have discussed ways to improve knowledge sharing in organizations. Now, what will this bring to a company? The benefits are enormous for the employees and substantial for the organizations.
Let's see what the employees gain:
- They will become more knowledgeable, which is personally good for their career.
- They will become more relevant in their workplace.
- Their productivity will increase.
- Their contributions will be noticed more frequently than in the past in the workplace.
- They will make more impact in the organization with their enhanced skills.
- Their confidence will increase, which will reduce their stress and make them overall happier people
The list of benefits is endless, but you may have understood the impact of knowledge sharing on employees at the workplace.
Now let's see what the companies gain:
- The quality of employees will be increased.
- Employees become more skilled without any additional costs.
- The productivity of employees and processes will be increased.
- More work can be managed with the existing manpower as their skill sets are enhanced with knowledge sharing.
- Extended professional interactions among the employees will create a harmony in the workplace and reduced conflicts.
- Costs on new recruitments can be reduced by utilizing the existing manpower optimally with their improved skills.
Companies provide their products or services to the public. When these products and services come from a set of employees having enhanced skills and knowledge, the quality of service received to the public will also rise. Eventually, this benefits society as well. Isn't it amazing how the culture of knowledge sharing can significantly influence employees, companies and the general public? Well, it is incredible!
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Barriers to Knowledge Sharing
Effective knowledge sharing requires proper planning and implementation. It should be precise to the management what they are trying to achieve by taking all this extra effort to implement knowledge-sharing in their organization. Mostly, the main barrier to knowledge sharing is the lack of this clarity. Instead of simply asking the employees to share knowledge, a proper framework should be developed and delivered to the staff for interacting with each other for sharing knowledge.
Even if a company implements an excellent system for knowledge sharing within the organization, a major threat will be the prevailing knowledge silos in that company. Knowledge silos are people or teams, who do not communicate or collaborate with others and keep all the information to themselves. They perform their duties in isolation, and sharing knowledge is the last thing they want to do. There are several factors for the existence of knowledge silos, primarily because of personal traits. People are not comfortable sharing their competencies with others by providing them with knowledge and experience they acquired in the long run.
People fear others will become more competent with the extra knowledge they provide them, and no one wants to train their competitors by risking their position in the company. But the problem is this attitude of employees will make the company less agile and adaptive, and eventually, the company will become outdated. To prevent this, their insecurities should be eliminated by providing proper awareness about knowledge sharing, its benefits and most importantly, the need to implement it in a workplace.
Along with awareness, an effective way to counter knowledge silos in an organization is the implementation of document management software. This will ensure that information will be available in centralized systems, and all authorized persons can access the data and become informed. This will curtail the practice of withholding information unnecessarily within the departments or with people themselves.
Finally, it's time to wind up! Knowledge sharing is indispensable in modern working environments. A collective effort is required for the success of businesses, and for that, a greater understanding of activities within an organization is demanded from all its employees. Knowledge sharing enables that, and with proper implementation, employees and businesses can immensely benefit from it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is an example of knowledge sharing?
Some teachers of a school attending curriculum symposiums and then sharing their learnings with others who have not attended the symposium is an excellent example of knowledge sharing at the workplace.
2. What is the purpose of knowledge sharing?
The purpose of knowledge sharing is to create a more effective and efficient workforce at the workplaces by combining the relevant knowledge of all the stakeholders, which helps to solve more challenging problems through collective involvement and contributions.
3. How do you promote knowledge sharing?
There are many ways to promote knowledge sharing in an organization depending on the nature of work involved. Some common ways are creating awareness about its benefits among the employees, providing incentives to the people who actively contribute to the knowledge process, and implementing a sound system in organizations for sharing the knowledge.