Sharing knowledge can be frightening for some people, especially if it is something new in an organization, so you can’t always count on it to just happen on its own.
Here are seven ways to encourage knowledge sharing within your company.
Set an example at the top
Knowledge management and knowledge sharing start at the top. Employees may feel like they will give up their own competitive edge by sharing what they know, and support from upper-level managers and executives can go a long way toward alleviating that fear.
Let your employees know exactly what you expect of them in terms of knowledge sharing, and give them the tools to do it. A good first step is to design document templates (e.g., for customer service calls and incident reports) that can be used to enter information into the knowledgebase.
Provide adequate time
Employees will not be very motivated to share if it is something they are required to squeeze in on top of their normal responsibilities. Especially during the startup phase of a knowledge management initiative, set aside time for employees to collaborate with one another to build the initial knowledgebase.
Make it easy
Employees will be much more likely to share resources if sharing is easy. Provide opportunities to share via multiple channels, including online, via internal social networking platforms, in community discussion forums, and on mobile devices.
Gamification is currently providing extra motivation for many business activities, and it can be used to encourage knowledge sharing as well. Consider competitions between departments (not individuals) for who contributes the most resources and awarding points for quality based on content ratings and how frequently resources are used. If you are going to use gamification, keep in mind that the results will be much better if the strategy is based on rewards, not on punishments (e.g., award points for high-quality contributions, but don’t subtract points for lower-quality ones).
In addition to gamification, you can also incentivize individual or group sharing behaviors. For example, provide a monetary bonus for the employee who contributes the most highly rated content in a calendar year. Also consider providing rewards for employees who work to improve existing content and for those who make the most effective use of the knowledgebase. Note the rewards don’t need to be monetary—recognition is often an even more powerful motivator than cash.
Encourage alternative methods of sharing
Understand that not everyone in your organization may be equally comfortable creating written documents or tutorials, or using collaboration tools, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have knowledge to share. Encourage alternative methods of sharing, for example, via mentorships, job shadowing sessions, and roundtable discussions. These methods may not immediately result in a document that can be catalogued in your knowledgebase software system, but they will greatly increase your firm’s collective knowledge.
Effective knowledge management is a collaboration based on a foundation of sharing. These seven strategies can support your knowledge management initiative by encouraging greater knowledge sharing in your company.
Author: David Miller is an educational researcher who has vast experience in the field of teaching, Online testing and training. He is associated with prestigious universities and many leading educational research organizations. He’s also an ed-tech veteran, currently pursuing research in new Knowledge base software, and is a contributing author with ProProfs.