In any organisation, cultivating a culture of knowledge sharing will have lasting impacts on innovation, productivity and growth.
We all know the saying ‘knowledge is power’ and yet, if we don’t share our knowledge with others, what power does it really have?
Because when you connect people across your business that have expertise with those that need it, that’s when the real magic happens. Without sharing knowledge, we can’t use knowledge effectively.
Whether you’ve heard the term before or not, this guide will break down what knowledge sharing is, why it’s important and show you how to make it work.
What is knowledge sharing?
Knowledge sharing is the act of ‘passing’ valuable information on to people who need it. It’s a way of guiding one another through the hurdles of a particular industry or niche and supporting continuous learning.
Sometimes the knowledge being shared is tacit, meaning that it was learned from experience. This is invaluable, as there are so many things in any industry that require first-hand experience to learn.
Knowledge sharing can also be explicit. Meaning it was learned from documents or training programs. Again, an invaluable resource to learning.
Sharing knowledge allows your teams a first-hand gateway to information that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. It assists them with personal development, professional growth, and of course to connect with seasoned professionals.
Why is knowledge sharing so important in the workplace?
The main reason why knowledge sharing is so important in the workplace is that it helps your team to grow off of the back of experience that is learned, acquired, or given. It’s goal is to streamline various business processes, improve staff performance, and is indispensable for workplace activities such as problem-solving.
Knowledge sharing is not about shortcuts, though. It’s about collaboration and bringing people together to work in the most effective way possible. It has lasting impacts for your people from onboarding to succession planning.
Implementing formal channels for knowledge sharing is essential is in our modern, hybrid and remote workplaces. A common problem is that people from the same team are often isolated from one another in remote work. In this instance, a cohesive knowledge sharing strategy will help remote employees to connect and work more effectively, while boosting morale and engagement.
Examples of knowledge sharing at work
This is a one-on-one way to give knowledge to your people. It is a quintessential form of knowledge sharing that’s been around since the days of Plato and Aristotle.
✅ Feedback and appraisals
This is another one-on-one method of knowledge sharing that allows peers to analyse a piece of work they’ve done and pick up on the areas of improvement. This allows them to strengthen their best qualities and identify areas of improvement, leading to a more well-rounded, expertly trained team member with a greater ability for mobility, whether internal or industry-based.
✅ Guides and presentations
Thought leaders in the workplace can produce and deliver guides and/or presentations across the business to groups that want to upskill in that area. This can be used as part of training materials, or just as an added bonus during team meetings.
Businesses can even get in touch with thought leaders and invite them to speak to their staff. This works particularly well as a benefit of employee resource groups and networks.
How do I cultivate a culture of knowledge sharing
There are many different ways that you can encourage a knowledge sharing culture at work. The first (and broadest) step is to set an example yourself, role-modelling and encouraging knowledge sharing in your team.
Setting up formal pathways for knowledge sharing will help you go that extra step to embed the practice in your culture. We always recommend getting senior leadership buy-in to make this work and that rewarding participation can be really effective.
No matter how you achieve it, communication is the main component of knowledge sharing, so make sure you promote your initiatives far and wide. Whether it’s a lunch and learn, or a shared shelf of books and resources, people need to know it’s there to utilise it.
4 top tips for improving knowledge sharing in your organisation
1. Implement a mentoring program
Implementing a mentoring program is a great way to exchange information between mentor and mentee. And best of all there are different types of mentoring from group mentoring to peer-to-peer, so you can choose the right type for your people.
Setting up an effective program takes some careful planning, but the results are impressive. To get started, you can always talk to a us and we’ll guide you through the whole process.
2. Consider peer learning
If you’re a fan of teaming your staff up, peer learning is the act of pairing team members with similar experience with one another so that they can help each other learn.
This means that they can bond over common ground and may have some unique tips to impart on one another. What works in peer learning, is that the relationship is equal – this creates a safe space for learning. The best part is, your people may already be doing this so formalising a peer learning program will be building on learning that’s already taking place.
3. Set up a lunch and learn program
Lunch and learns or programs of events are a great way to encourage knowledge sharing. Whether run in teams or across the business, the idea is that your people will run a session on their area of expertise.
They’re a great way for people to learn something new without having to go out of their way to do it. Plus the presenter practices their skills teaching, speaking publicly and clarifies their own knowledge at the same time.
4. Create a ‘shared shelf’
Teams that learn together, grow together. Starting a team library of books and resources that your people have found useful is a great way to encourage knowledge sharing.
You can also start Slack channels or groups for people to recommend resources, training courses or other materials. What’s key here is that senior leaders role model using this resource, and remind people that there are free learning materials at their finger-tips.
Knowledge sharing is an essential way to upskill your people. It works for both the learner and the teacher to practice new skills and solidify their knowledge.
Over time, you will increase staff retention, office morale and equip your team with actionable advice that they can use in their everyday working lives. It really is a win-win way to develop your people.
Knowledge sharing is a pragmatic, streamlined way to take the expertise that is already in your organisation and make the most of it. By implementing formal channels for knowledge sharing, you will build a strong rapport in your company, and help people to learn and grow, together.
If you’re looking for help setting up a mentorship program, consider talking to our expert team!