Encouraging more knowledge sharing is important for your company because the cost of inefficient knowledge transfer is HUGE.
- First, it slows onboarding. Research shows that it takes 8 months on average for a new hire to get fully up-to-speed.
- Second, it lowers productivity. A McKinsey report shows that on average, employees spend 20% of their work day just to search for information. Put it in another way, it’s like you hire 5 employees but only 4 show up to work, the fifth is off searching for answers, but not providing real value.
- Third, it causes knowledge lost when employees leave your company. On average, people only stay in their job for 3.2 years. If knowledge is not transferred well, important company wisdom will be gone as your people leave.
So if you want your company to grow efficiently in a sustainable way, preventing knowledge hoarding is a key and here are some tips to help you encourage knowledge sharing in your organization:
1. Make it a priority and incentivize knowledge sharing
One of the challenges of encouraging more knowledge sharing in the workplace is that knowledge sharing is usually not directly tied to employees’ KPI. So without explicitly emphasizing that knowledge sharing is a priority, it’s natural for employees to focus on tasks that are more urgent for them.
Instead of simply stating knowledge sharing is a priority, consider rewarding teammates who actively contribute in shaping the knowledge sharing culture. It can be as small as giving a shoutout on Slack when a team member shares a piece of useful information or giving out small prizes like dining coupons to team members who contributed the most to your internal knowledge base every quarter, etc.
By making knowledge sharing a priority and provide incentives, your team members will feel rewarded when they contribute in knowledge sharing, instead of losing time on working on other tasks that have a better chance in earning them a promotion.
These tools make it so easy to send kudos to teammates directly via your company chat tool like Slack and provide leaderboards so you can formalize recognition by rewarding your team superstars every month or quarter.
2. Create channels and encourage different forms of knowledge sharing
Knowledge sharing can come in many different forms – it can be a planned workshop where experts in the team share best practices and latest industry trends. It can also be as small as just sharing an article about an interesting tactics that your company may be able to benefit from.
So set aside time and create channels to encourage these different forms of knowledge sharing. If your team has remote team members, don’t forget to include them when planning knowledge sharing activities and create channels online so they can also share knowledge and learn from teammates effectively as well.
How we are doing it at Kipwise:
We are a 100% remote team. So all of our knowledge sharing happens online.
Create knowledge sharing channels like #learn-marketing on Slack
Other than channels for really focused work-related discussion, we have also created some good-reads or knowledge sharing channels on our Slack to encourage teammates to share industry best-practices or if they read across something inspiring.
For example, we have channels like #learn-sales, #learn-marketing and #learn-product. By dividing the channels by topics, teammates can subscribe to channels they are interested in learning more. At Kipwise, we also have a company wide channel #company-competitors to share market intelligence when we spot any interesting move from our competitors.
Read more tips on how to organize your Slack channels.
Regular functional team meeting to share best practices and learnings
At Kipwise, other than our daily standup meetings, we also have longer team meetings bi-weekly to reflect on how we did and share insights on how we can improve. Having this kind of face-to-face sharing session is important, especially for a remote team, because oftentimes, complex issues are hard to communicate just using text.
3. Start building a culture of knowledge sharing from day 1
When you want to build a culture, it should start right from day 1 since someone joins your company. Make your onboarding process into an interactive one and ask for inputs from your new hires on improving the knowledge sharing process.
- Assign a buddy to each new hire. Instead of simply sharing your culture code verbally, assigning a buddy to the new hire is the best way to help them experience the culture and to help the new hire blend in and adapt to the new environment quicker.
- Ask for inputs from your new hires on improving the knowledge sharing process. Even though the new hire might not be very familiar with your company yet, it doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to the knowledge sharing process. Because they are new to the company, they often have a fresh angle to spot what improvements need to be made – are your onboarding materials clear and easy-to-understand? Are there any missing pieces to your knowledge base? Does any information look outdated already and need amendments? By seeking inputs from your new hires right from the start helps to communicate that knowledge management is a key priority in the company.
4. Lead by example
Just as mentioned above, one of the challenges of encouraging more knowledge sharing in the workplace is that knowledge sharing is usually not directly tied to employees’ KPI, so managers should lead by example to show employees that contributing to the company knowledge base is something that is highly valued by the company.
- Always create a knowledge base article when teammates ask about some repeated process. For example, when a junior teammate asks a question that is not on your knowledge base yet, instead of quickly answering them directly, create a knowledge base article and use that knowledge base article to answer the teammate. We understand that it might take a longer time for the answer this time, but you are actually saving many more hours in the future by avoiding the need to answer the same question again and again.
- Remind teammates to use the knowledge base. For example, if someone talks about something that is worthy to be saved to your company knowledge base but they didn’t, give them a warm reminder to do so. It often takes time to develop a habit, so some reminders might be needed during the process.
5. Invest in tools to simplify the knowledge sharing process
Lastly, selecting the right knowledge sharing tool is also important. A good company knowledge management tool should support powerful search, offers good collaborative features and integrates well with the tools that your team is already using.
Also look for kcompany knowledge management tools that offer built-in workflows to remind you to review your content if it is not updated nor reviewed for a set period of time. Otherwise, your teammates will just find your knowledge base unreliable and not relying on it anymore.
By making the process much simpler, your teammates will have much more incentive to contribute to the knowledge sharing process instead of seeing it as a burden.
Read more tips on how to choose the best knowledge base software for your team.