In the words of the great American novelist, Louis L’amour “knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity, and hopefully, in value.”
Knowledge is most valuable when it’s shared with others, so why is it that Fortune 500 companies lose an estimated $31.5 billion between them each year from a lack of adequate knowledge sharing? Well, as it turns out, teams can be very resistant to sharing knowledge in the workplace.
Let’s explore the most common objections to knowledge sharing and how to get around them.
Objection 1: “I don’t have the time to share my knowledge.”
With all of the tasks, deadlines, and projects teams have on their plates, it’s no wonder hard-working teams feel that there are more pressing issues at hand than sharing knowledge. Knowledge management is a long-term ongoing endeavor, so it can lack the sense of urgency that other deadline-driven parts of the business do. This makes it tricky to see its immediate impact and can easily get low priority on team members’ list of things to do.
This is why knowledge management leaders need to create urgency and show people why it should be a top priority. To do this, leaders can motivate teams to share knowledge by showing them how this practice actually saves the company and themselves a lot of time in the long run.
To do this, get each team member to stop and reflect on a few questions for a second. Ask them to consider:
- How often have they seen the same mistakes get repeated on a loop?
- How many new team members have asked them the same questions over and over?
- How many times have they settled for the same old way of doing things because they weren’t sure how to do it better?
All together, they have wasted a lot of time and have stifled innovation and continuous improvement in the business—all because of a lack of knowledge sharing.
If you’re going to make a case for knowledge sharing, you also need to deliver the goods with an amazing knowledge base and knowledge management software that’s been proven to make everyone’s work lives easier—not harder. This includes hard data and stats of their impact to show how much time knowledge management saves people.
For very time-pressed teams, consider setting a specific time aside each week or month where the whole team comes together to input and share their knowledge. No ifs, no buts. This gives a clear-cut undisputable time slot where knowledge sharing becomes the number one priority above anything else.
Objection 2: “I don’t know how to share my knowledge.”
Sometimes, people are actually ready and willing to share their knowledge—they just aren’t sure how. This is especially the case when so much of what they know is tacit knowledge that’s hidden in their heads. This is when it’s beneficial to create physical and/or virtual spaces that foster a knowledge-sharing environment where ideas and solutions can be generated and circulated organically.
For example, this could be an inviting office designed with plenty of areas to collaborate. Or, if your team is mostly remote, embrace online social channels such as Slack, where people can come together in groups to collaborate and solve problems.
Teams confused about how to share their knowledge may also be a sign of miscommunication around the organization’s knowledge management strategy. This requires more team education on the different ways to share knowledge quickly, including the company knowledge base, COPs, and knowledge management tools.
Knowledge sharing may seem very daunting for new team members. Give them a supportive mentor that you’ve already flagged as a knowledge champion in the company for them to shadow and learn how sharing knowledge in the workplace functions.
Having said that, newbies shouldn’t just be passive observers; get them to share knowledge from day one by asking for their input and opinions early on. Knowing that even the tiny amount of knowledge they’ve learned is of importance and value to the company will empower and motivate them to become advocates of knowledge sharing.
Objection 3: “I don’t want to share my knowledge.”
There are many reasons why teams are resistant to sharing their knowledge. More often than not, it points to an issue in the overall corporate culture. We all know that knowledge is power. And while there’s nothing wrong with healthy competition, too much of it in a business causes knowledge hoarding as a power play. People think that keeping it to themselves gives them an extra advantage and better status over their colleagues that they can leverage to get further up the company ladder.
Reluctance to knowledge share is also rooted in an organizational culture of mistrust. There can be nothing more infuriating than someone taking credit for your great ideas, causing some to keep their cards close to their chest.
The mistrust could also mean that team members don’t believe the knowledge they are being given is accurate.The solution to these problems is through changing organizational culture. If you want teams to be generous with their knowledge, you have to be generous with them in return. Offer rewards like prizes or bonuses to the team members most willing to share valuable knowledge assets. Or, simple recognition and shoutouts in your weekly meetings or team social networks go a long way if you want to incentivize knowledge sharing.
However, while people tend to be more motivated to share their successes and fantastic ideas, people are less keen to share their mistakes. Many will hide what didn’t go well for fear of being considered bad at their job or facing repercussions. Sidestep this issue by celebrating not only successes but also when people are brave enough to share their missteps. Create a corporate culture where it’s okay to get things wrong. After all, we tend to learn more from our mistakes.
There is also a significant link between organizational culture and leadership. A culture of knowledge sharing is created from an example being set from the top. Company leaders should be transparent and generous with their knowledge and have an open-door policy where teams can come to them for help and expertise. They should also admit when they slip-up.
Empower your teams with corporate culture
Whether it’s making knowledge sharing a company priority, promoting and fostering knowledge-rich collaborative environments, or changing team attitudes, this is all achieved through focusing on an organizational culture. Knowledge management and corporate culture really do go hand in hand! Knowledge is power. Empower your teams with Lessonly Knowledge.