How to Encourage Employees to Share their Knowledge
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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 factor you can really impact is the culture by changing your own behavior and the environment you create with your team.
Here are some ways to encourage more sharing:
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 and be open in terms of sharing your own knowledge.
Identify their passion. People always have most and least favorite parts of their job; there are areas they feel especially motivated, passionate and excited about. If you can identify those areas and find ways for them to spend more energy there, they will likely reward you with better quality work that they will feel more comfortable sharing. For example, a successful sales rep could share their methodology.
Paint a picture. Explain why something needs to be done, not just that it needs doing. If people understand how their work will contribute to a larger project, they are more likely to offer creative and insightful solutions.
Make it easy. Not everyone is a writer, or is good at 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 email, hallway conversations, IM, 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 it to performance reviews. If employees know that this 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 KPIs you set should be something that feels reasonable and achievable to all.
Employees already know how helpful 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.
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