In the current global economy, knowledge has become a company’s primary competitive advantage and its greatest tool for supreme organisational performance. Disruptions in the workplace in the past decades, especially in the last three years, have driven the demand for an organisational system to get the correct information to the right people at the exact time. There is a need for an approach that allows people to share information that can be acted on to improve overall efficiency.
Organisations that value and utilise knowledge as an important resource generate favourable productivity and lower operational cost. An integral part of knowledge management is knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing allows knowledge to be accessible and usable within and across organisations.
As knowledge is not something tangible, transferring it from a source to a receiver is not that easy. There is no simple template available to capture and share the different types of knowledge available. However, researchers have studied and indexed social, organisational, and technological factors that foster knowledge sharing. One study found that task characteristics, organisational culture, social relations, learning orientations and social networking tools played huge roles in promoting knowledge sharing in the workplace.
In the context of an organisation and the workplace, knowledge resources are what enable employees to accomplish tasks and reach goals. An employee has to have specific knowledge to carry out a job according to an organisation’s specifications. For every employee needing to acquire distinct knowledge, there is one employee willing to impart what they know. Knowledge sharing is a complex phenomenon of knowledge seeking and knowledge sharing playing off each other. Understanding what and how to enable factors that set off knowledge-seeking and sharing is crucial in growing workplace knowledge sharing.
Foster learning orientation attitudes in the office. By doing so, you develop continuous learning habits and curiosity among employees. Remember, it’s the proactive learners who become highly motivated knowledge sharers in your organisation.
Learning orientation is a person’s potential geared towards acquiring new skills and knowledge so they may upgrade their competency. This ability to proactively learn drives competitive advantage for both the individual employee and the entire organisation. Each organisation acquires unique knowledge through experience over time. As employees perform organisation-specific tasks, the more they learn and acquire organisational knowledge. This knowledge resource is crucial for an organisation to achieve its objectives.
A continuous learning habit feeds the loop of knowledge seeking and knowledge sharing, unveiling opportunities and innovations for more knowledge seeking and knowledge sharing.
How do you get your knowledge experts to share their most boring tacit knowledge while keeping your newest recruit curious and unintimidated? The answer is, you design the workplace to allow everyone to randomly mingle in common areas out of management’s earshot.
Studies show that people share more and reciprocate better when they are relaxed and there’s a level of familiarity. Good knowledge sharing is determined by the quality of the relationship between knowledge seekers and knowledge owners. Employees will only share valuable knowledge to their colleagues when they are comfortable with them determined by a level of trust, reciprocity, openness and shared norms. Frequent interaction is the foundation of social relations and interpersonal trust.
Design social-friendly spaces to encourage informal interactions and build trust among colleagues for enjoyable impromptu knowledge sharing, and to establish familiarity for more formal meetings:
In addition to the ‘positive pockets’ that in-between spaces provide, the ideal knowledge-sharing setting also provides ‘pockets of peace’:
First, let us take a look at what the term ‘organisational culture’ actually entails. Simply put, there are three notable dimensions when referring to it:
Including knowledge sharing as a core value in an organisation’s culture would lead to employees embracing knowledge-sharing activities that eventually become a norm. And as knowledge sharing becomes associated with corporate culture, any knowledge sharing related activity will be regarded with a sense of professionalism, and expectations of management and colleagues.
It’s a given that helping others has its own intrinsic rewards. However, when it comes to helping others by sharing their self-generated knowledge, individuals are a lot less willing to help without rewards. The theory presumes that employees believe the knowledge they have collected through their experiences is part of their identity. Any help involving sharing their knowledge, they deem more costly to provide.
Funny enough, it is this identity-linked, costly value that fosters trust. By sharing a part of their identity, employees believe they are forging a strong psychological bond with the recipients of their knowledge. This perceived bond, in turn, fosters trust and facilitates reciprocity from its recipients, inclining these employees to be more open to knowledge sharing especially when a reward is presented.
So how should organisations reward knowledge sharing? Experts reckon subjective incentives (a bonus program based on subjective evaluations of colleagues) are the most effective. When recipients help decide on the rewards, it builds trust and softens individuals to share their knowledge.
A successful knowledge-sharing environment is one that provides a range of spaces that grant employees the freedom of where and how to get their jobs done. Studies are making it more apparent that workers need an amount of privacy, and organisations need to understand that this privacy does not necessarily interfere with collaboration. According to research, improving privacy, in fact, strengthens collaboration.
Whether physical or virtual, allocating ‘shielded’ spaces for your teams allows them to move easily between group time and individual time, creating a healthy knowledge-sharing rhythm. Meeting together to think about a problem and then separating to let the ideas ferment, engages employees to think critically and reflect on new information. The next time they interact together, they will only carry on into an enriched cycle of knowledge sharing and creation.
You need to find a knowledge management platform that allows all the above-mentioned knowledge-sharing best practices in one simple tool. The most suitable knowledge management software will:
Building a knowledge sharing culture in an organisation follows the seven-step approach above. However, remember that it mainly depends on two things: