The old adage “everyone you meet knows something you don’t” is absolutely true, and it’s vital to remember that in the workplace. Everyone has different strengths, and if knowledge isn’t being adequately shared, the professional growth of your team can be significantly throttled. Because the nature of knowledge sharing differs greatly from the nature of the small talk, your employees might need a little push in the right direction to shift the conversation towards maximum productivity.
Have Meetings for No Good Reason
How often do you have meetings when there isn’t a pressing issue to discuss, a project to assign, or an important change taking place? These meetings are necessary and they serve a purpose, but they’re leaving one relatively large purpose unfulfilled – knowledge sharing. Having “catch up” meetings for the sole purpose of relaying information and comparing notes can improve teamwork and relationships with management. Let everyone talk about what they’re working on, what they’ve learned, and what they’re having trouble with. You might be able to encourage employees to mentor each other on difficult aspects of a project.
Utilize Team Building Activities
Members of your team might not be sharing knowledge because they’re not talking to each other. They don’t know each other well enough to walk up to one another and have these important conversations. One of the best things you can do is implement regular team building activities. You’ll help to break down social barriers and make people a little more comfortable with each other. As familiarity increases, people will feel more inclined to speak to their coworkers, developing professional friendships that can enhance their productivity. It’s hard to find synergy with a stranger, but it’s easy to work side by side with someone you’re comfortable with.
Train Them in Team Accountability
Focus on the team just as much as you focus on the individual. If everyone understands what role they’re filling in the macrocosm of a project, they’ll know how everyone else’s performance will affect their ability to fulfill that role. People will be quick to notice if something is missing or otherwise not quite right. It will be easy for employees to fill in the blanks when they see how all the pieces fit together.
This can empower them to become better problem solvers. They’ll see when someone is lagging behind and develop a clearer understanding of what needs to change. They will then be able to help each other through better communication and knowledge sharing. Everyone will stay on the same page if you emphasize the importance of coworking.
Make Everyone an Expert
By identifying the strengths of your employees, you can empower them as experts. Consider the hobbies, interests, and past experiences of your team members and how they might lend themselves to a productive workplace. Do you have an employee with a background in IT and security? Empower that person as the go-to guru for cybersecurity around the office. It’s an important role, and if that person can relay that knowledge, everyone will be able to develop better digital habits in the workplace. Do you have a meticulously organized team member? Give that person the role of expert note taker at every meeting. Have them gather the information and make copies of it for everyone who participated.
By appointing experts, you’re making each person a knowledge leader on a specific subject. Employees who know they’re knowledge leaders will be more likely to freely share knowledge, and employees who need that knowledge will know where to go for answers.
Gamify Information Sharing
Knowledge sharing is often gamified in many ways. You may have noticed that many popular forums allow comments to be upvoted or downvoted, drawing the most helpful users to the top and giving them the recognition of being one of the wisest contributors to the conversation. Implement something similar in the workplace.
Try giving out small weekly awards for knowledge sharing. If there’s a running contest to see who can be the most helpful, people will come out in droves to share everything they know. Everyone will benefit from the process. Even if the prize is something simple, like a modest gift card to the local healthy eatery, it’s incentive enough to push people to compete to win. Since the name of the game is sharing, participating will only bring team members closer together.
Over time, knowledge sharing can evolve to become an important part of a company’s culture. If you set the stage properly, knowledge sharing will become difficult to avoid. Remember to lead by example and point out successful instances of knowledge sharing as they come – it will keep team members motivated and on the right track.
Michelle Arios is a career and business writer, whose main interest lies in all aspects that make businesses thrive and expand. Michelle is also a staunch supporter of lifelong education and often participates in numerous courses to learn new skills and abilities.