The knowledge your employees bring to your organization is your most valuable resource.
It’s the human power that keeps your business running and the innovative spark that propels your business ahead of your competitors.
The expertise, innovation, and fresh ideas provided by your team give your business a competitive; improving your bottom line, and ultimately providing a better experience to your customers.
That’s why it’s in your company’s best interest to create a culture of knowledge sharing and team collaboration.
Why is Knowledge Sharing Important?
As a team leader, you have the opportunity to implement a game-changing knowledge sharing strategy. It’s about sharing ideas, motivation, and creative potential.
Improving the circulation of knowledge throughout your organization will boost efficiency, improve your bottom line, and encourage company-wide innovation.
With the right encouragement and approach, you will enable every department to get the information they need and to have a supportive platform for sharing fresh, new ideas.
Here’s how you and your leadership team can improve knowledge sharing and collaboration in your company.
1. Create a Collaborative Workspace
If your company has a physical office, then there is much you can do to encourage collaboration in the workplace.
2. Open Office Design
A Gensler 2016 workplace study found that workspace design was one of the key determining factors for innovation in a company. Innovative companies were five times more likely to have a design that prioritized both individual and collaborative spaces.
This can take the form of individual desks, while also having common areas like a coffee station, conference rooms, and casual “hang out” areas.
These common areas were found to inspire conversation, collaboration on projects, and creative problem solving.
3. Supportive Company Culture
CultureIQ polled 28,371 employees from hundreds of companies and found that employees’ company quality ratings were 20% higher at companies that have a strong, supportive company culture. Factors included opportunities for collaboration, a friendly work environment, and authentic company values.
Beyond having a physical space that supports collaboration, you want to create an environment where employees feel respected. This means giving them ample opportunities to contribute ideas, offer feedback, and even raise issues with existing company systems or policies.
4. Offer Incentives for Innovation
For many employees, work can quickly lead to a “clock in, clock out” mentality. With no incentive to contribute ideas or solve problems, many employees will stick to only completing their daily tasks.
To encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration in your company, it’s recommended that you offer team members an incentive to be innovative so they are encouraged to contribute ideas without feeling they are spread too thin.
5. Inspire Innovation by Building Trust
No employee wants to feel like they are going above-and-beyond without fair recognition or compensation. Though this does happen, it can be quite rare. You want to inspire an innovative mentality across your entire team.
Some tips to inspire innovation include:
- Creating a climate of reciprocal trust
- Offering incentives in the form of bonuses, commissions, new projects or opportunities, leadership roles, and networking events
- Encouraging a culture of upward communication
- Emphasizing speed over lengthy studies by large committees
- Offering candid communication and honest feedback
- Inspiring through action
6. Provide Helpful, Accessible Resources
An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.Benjamin Franklin
While many team leaders are inclined to take a “sink or swim” approach to employee training, the statistics are definitely stacked against this approach.
7. Offer Comprehensive Employee Training
In fact, studies show that companies see far greater success when their employees are adequately prepared from the get-go.
The Association for Talent Development found that companies that offer comprehensive training programs have a 218% higher income per employee than companies without a clear training process. They also see a 24% higher margin compared to those that spend less on employee training.
By having a clear, streamlined training process, you prepare your employees for success from the very beginning. You are also able to brief them on the knowledge of other members of the team, where to find additional resources, and how to contribute new ideas.
We recommend documenting a step-by-step training process so that all new hires are prepared to become a cohesive part of the team.
8. Make Resources Readily Available
Implementing an effective internal knowledge base is the best way to organize information within your company. It makes it easier for employees to both contribute knowledge and tap into the collective resources.
Internal knowledge base software allows employees to collaborate and distribute all company knowledge and information internally with ease.
While the content of your knowledge base may vary, it will typically include resources like training manuals, company policies, how-tos for using company tools, and much more.
9. Utilize Communication Tools
In organizations both large and small, knowledge sharing and communication can be slow.
When you have a lot of information changing hands, it’s easy for important details to get missed in the transfer process.
With communication and knowledge transfer tools, you can cut communication time in half, all while increasing collaboration.
Best Business Communication Tools
Email chains and group chats just don’t cut it anymore.
To improve communication in your organization, you need a communication tool that’s a great fit for your team.
Here are some of the best business communication tools on the market:
- Google Hangouts – Schedule group meetings to collaborate on projects, seek solutions, and discuss important company events.
- GoToMeeting – Similar to Hangouts, GoToMeeting allows you to conduct meetings with your team with ease.
- Slack – Slack is a group communication platform that allows you to talk to team members in real time. You can even make different “channels” for each department or project.
- Trello – Manage projects, stay on top of deadlines, add notes, and monitor progress all in this project management tool. You can add multiple team members to Trello to ensure that everyone is on the same page for every project.
Find the right communication system for your company. Learn how to improve collaboration in the workplace with these helpful communication methods.
10. Implement a Long-term Knowledge Sharing Strategy
Knowledge sharing is about more than simply getting information from A to B.
It’s about tapping into the individual and collective expertise held by your team members – and making that knowledge readily accessible to other people in your organization.
Every team member should have a chance to contribute new ideas, solutions, processes, and feedback in order to improve the company as a whole.
This is made much easier with the right knowledge sharing strategy in place.
11. Create a Knowledge Transfer Plan
A knowledge transfer plan is a straightforward system for collecting, organizing, analyzing, applying, and creating knowledge.
It is a cyclical process that encourages constant knowledge production and distribution within and throughout your company.
When there’s a set system in place, it’s easier for everyone to contribute knowledge and access existing knowledge. This makes your team stronger, more cohesive, and, ultimately, more productive.
An effective Knowledge Transfer Plan consists of:
- A clear process for knowledge collection
- A method for organizing knowledge in an intuitive way (i.e. a knowledge base)
- Easy access to knowledge by members in the organization
- Incentives for applying knowledge
- A strategy for encouraging further knowledge production (like “brainstorming sessions”, expert panels, etc.)
Your exact plan will depend on the unique needs of your organization, so we recommend trying different methods until you find the right system for you and your team.
A Company Culture of Support and Innovation
Knowledge sharing and communication are made easy when to build a company culture of support and innovation and have the right systems in place.
By making existing knowledge readily accessible, and encouraging team members to contribute new ideas, you’ll improve your bottom line and gain a competitive edge in your industry.
How Can Leaders Encourage Knowledge Sharing?
If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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