A knowledge-sharing culture is very important for companies and employees to continue to grow and evolve as the world is constantly changing. This company culture allows employees to want to learn and share knowledge so the company can continue to prosper.
However, it can be challenging to find the balance, so employees do not feel pressured to share knowledge. Luckily, there are some simple tactics to follow that can allow for better employee communication and productivity.
What is knowledge-sharing in the workplace?
Knowledge-sharing is when documented or undocumented information is transferred from one person to another. This can be one-on-one, peer-to-peer, or group. Knowledge-sharing is any activity that involves the exchange of knowledge between people. Additionally, it can work within an organization or between organizations. However, the company must have a standardized way of teaching employees.
Some companies even go further by hiring fractional executives or fractional integrators who help the business with leadership, coaching and mentorship and solving important issues. Not to mention that it is vital that employees have options on how they want to absorb knowledge, so they will continue to want to learn.
Although helpful and something that companies want employees to do, some people can occasionally be reluctant to share their knowledge. According to a study cited in an HBR article, people who did their job because they enjoyed it were more likely to share knowledge than people who worked to get a reward or avoid punishment.
Therefore, it can be dangerous to pressure employees into sharing what they know. Instead, knowledge-sharing needs to be encouraged and made a part of the company culture.
Why is knowledge-sharing important for cross-team alignment?
For small teams, it’s easy to work together well. In fact, studies on the optimal team size using developers found that teams with more than four people performed significantly worse.
This is bad news as it’s likely that most of our teams have more than four people on them. But don’t tear apart your org sheet just yet. As teams grow, structured processes for communication and knowledge-sharing become more important. Let’s look at four reasons that knowledge-sharing is critical to cross-team alignment.
Knowledge sharing promotes open communication
Knowledge-sharing helps employees learn new skills. They’re sharing what they are experts in with others while they do the same.
In addition to the skills, they learn from the content of the discussion, they’re also learning communication skills. And communication skills are critical. 86% of employees and executives cite a lack of effective communication as the main cause for workplace failures.
So having the programs and incentives to encourage knowledge-sharing allows your team to perform better because they’re connecting more often. Over time, these programs can build a learning culture.
Knowledge-sharing promotes a learning culture
Creating a learning culture within your company will skyrocket your employee engagement and performance. It’s the kind of workplace where there are few silos and it’s normal for employees to communicate across business functions to learn skills. In fact, it’s common for employees to be recognized for what they’re learning.
94% of employees say they would stay with a company if they invested in their learning development. It’s safe to say that a learning culture positively impacts retention rates. And the first step to building a learning culture is to get employees to openly share their expertise.
Knowledge-sharing is also critical to productivity. A McKinsey study revealed that employees spend 20% of their time looking for internal information or finding colleagues with critical know-how. If employees regularly engaged with their colleagues and traded key insights that 20% could decrease. And doing so across an organization can exponentially improve productivity. In short, your teams will spend less time looking for information and more time using it to drive the company forward.
Breaks down silos in remote organizations
Knowledge-sharing is especially important today as more workplaces go remote. Knowledge-sharing activities can help employees connect remotely and learn from one another. In a study on The Nature Human Behaviour Journal, researchers studied Microsoft employees during their transition to remote work amidst the pandemic.
They found “that firm-wide remote work caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts.”
They concluded that remote work cultures make it harder to share information as more communication is asynchronous rather than synchronous.
The solution lies in structured knowledge-sharing programs that encourage collaboration and connection between employees. The interactions in these programs get employees to share information they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to. Over time, these “manufactured connections” can promote a knowledge-sharing culture.
5 tactics to create a knowledge-sharing culture
There are some simple and easy ways to create a knowledge-sharing culture within your company that will help your employees learn new skills and be more engaged, leading to a higher retention rate. Additionally, implementing these tactics allow employees to become more productive and find the information they need quicker.
Leverage HelpCrunch to make knowledge-sharing easy
HelpCrunch provides a chat widget that allows you to stay in touch with customers 24/7 and provide them any support they may need. Additionally, the platform allows you to send newsletters that target specific audiences and create automated campaigns based on the audience’s behaviors, which allows for better conversions.
HelpCrunch also allows you to create leads within the app and communicate with potential clients. HelpCrunch is easy to install and migrate from any previous platforms you were using for your business. It also integrates with Slack and Google Analytics, and you can fully customize it to fit your business’s needs.
A platform like HelpCrunch helps your company continue to adapt to the modern age since technology is always evolving and changing. HelpCrunch can also help your company communicate better internally.
While many companies use these types of platforms and gadgets for consumer outreach, many do not use them for internal purposes. By fully implementing applications like HelpCrunch, your company could raise the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent.
Make time for knowledge-sharing
A research study was published in 2014 looking into how organizations can encourage knowledge sharing. They studied various practices put into place at a telecommunications company in Jordan.
They found that key knowledge-sharing practices were are a significant predictor in what they called “Ongoing Organizational Learning,” or a learning culture. They found that organizations that set aside time for knowledge-sharing saw greater benefits.
Therefore, rather than just saying that employees should share their knowledge with each other, leaders should set aside time for knowledge-sharing practices.
What are those practices? We explore them in the following sections.
Start cross-department mentoring programs
Cross-department mentoring programs allow for the mentors and mentees to get a better perspective on their roles within the company and understand each other better. Additionally, it can be a dealbreaker to continue to stay in the company for the long run.
Cross-department mentoring increases the size of the employees’ knowledge pool, which keeps them motivated to continue to improve and the company can be more innovative. This program allows for a group of employees, who are not of the same department, to solve one challenge together. Therefore, it allows for better communication within departments, more collaboration when it comes to knowledge-sharing, and employees with better skills and more engagement.
Host recurring ‘team training sessions’
Team training sessions can simply be an employee showing the department, or a group of coworkers, a skill that he or she has that others do not. This is a good peer-to-peer learning method since it allows for better communication between employees and they can learn something that leaves everybody on the same page. Additionally, this is helpful to retain junior employees who might know a more modern method than the one already used by older employees.
The junior employee can teach others a simpler and more modern way to do things and continue to keep the company adapting to new technology and modern methods. These recurring training sessions can be something as simple as a presentation an employee gives to a group of people on a skill he or she has that others do not.
Organize peer-to-peer coffee chats
Peer-to-peer coffee chats allow employees to discuss any issues that they may have one-on-one while sharing their knowledge. Including these coffee chats in your company’s learning culture allows employees to learn important aspects of another’s daily duties that can help them in the long run. Additionally, this allows both parties to work through any questions they may have casually without any pressure.
A Deloitte report released in 2019 on Learning in the flow of life stated that “Despite often major investments in learning, many organizations are not linking performance incentives to their learning programs, increasing the risk that their learning investments may go unused and unappreciated.”
For workplace learning to be successful, there need to be incentives in place. And this is more than just a bonus for completing X amount of online course modules. Companies need incentives for employees to regularly disseminate information that will improve performance. This can translate into rewarding employees based on new skills they develop. And because most employees are likely to go to each other when they need to learn something (over half in one study), this will lead to more knowledge-sharing
Overall, knowledge-sharing can be a two-edged sword. Too much encouragement to share knowledge can make employees feel pressured and not want to do it. However, a key component is a communication platform that allows employees to properly communicate.
Therefore, applications like HelpCrunch are a great option for both your customers and your employees. Knowledge-sharing can be very beneficial to keep employees engaged as they continue to grow and evolve, just like your company.