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Knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing

Table of Contents

    Now more than ever, knowledge is a key competitive differentiator when it comes to company success. However, most organizations are reactive and lack an efficient system to facilitate knowledge sharing. If you want your employees and company to improve continually, knowledge sharing has to be a deliberate part of your strategy. 

    So, what is knowledge sharing exactly and how can it work for you? This article answers the following::

    • What is knowledge sharing?
    • Why is knowledge sharing important?
    • Which employees should participate in knowledge sharing?
    • How can your organization improve knowledge-sharing efforts?

    What is knowledge sharing?

    Knowledge sharing is exchanging information and expertise from one individual or group to another. It involves both giving information, such as experience, ideas, and data, and receiving it. 

    The primary purpose of knowledge sharing is to foster innovation and collaboration to improve productivity, increase efficiency, reduce costs, and ultimately achieve organizational goals.

    There are two types of knowledge that people can share:

    1. Tacit knowledge: This type of knowledge is hard to document as it involves personal experience, values, and beliefs. The best way to share it is through collaborative work and deep conversation. Therefore, a good tacit knowledge strategy is to connect employees and allow enough time and space for knowledge transfer. 
    2. Explicit knowledge: This type of knowledge is easier to share since it is easily documented. It involves documents, procedures, reports, technical data, and other structured information. A good sharing strategy for explicit knowledge is e-learning courses, in-person workshops, or cloud-based databases that house various documents for employees to access as needed. 

    Why is knowledge sharing important?

    If there’s one thing you can’t afford to compromise on, it’s expertise. However, expertise does not guarantee individual or organizational success in a fast-paced and ever-evolving business ecosystem.

    This is why, along with expertise, your most valuable employees offer creativity, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. While it may seem like these attributes are something a person is just born with, that’s actually not the case. Instead, these attributes can be taught and consciously developed over time. This is why knowledge sharing is essential. 

    Through the years, employees acquire new skills and knowledge. These come from their experiences in the industry and company, continued learning, and the transfer of information from colleagues. Without knowledge sharing, it would be easy for such insights to get lost over time and difficult for companies and employees to thrive to the fullest. 

    Think of it this way. If every employee had to have the same experiences to learn the same lessons, you would have a workforce of clones without any original expertise or insights. The value and power of a team are in its diversity. By channeling the existing knowledge of your employees, you access an invaluable pool of information and insights. Knowledge sharing not only provides you with excellent content, it also provides an opportunity to develop your team professionally and personally.

    6 benefits of knowledge sharing

    If you want to improve the flow of information in your company, you must be willing to invest time and resources into training and development. Knowledge sharing doesn’t just happen on its own. It takes effort and planning to make it a reality in your workplace.

    Though the work may be daunting, the rewards are worth it. Knowledge sharing has innumerable benefits and is vital to your team’s success. 

    1. It makes recruiting talent easier and cheaper. 

    This method of learning is particularly useful with new hires and less experienced employees. Rather than recruiting an employee with precise experience and skills, which can take a long time to find and be expensive, you can hire employees with potential and develop their skills through knowledge sharing with senior employees. This helps new employees learn about the organization and its processes quicker than waiting for them to obtain months or years of experience. By incorporating knowledge sharing into your internal development strategy, your company will enjoy seamless transitions. 

    2. It improves employee retention.

    Learning and development opportunities significantly influence whether employees join and stay with you. According to the Society for Human Resource Management:

    • 66% of employees aged 18-24 rank learning new skills as the third-most important factor when considering a new job behind health insurance and disability benefits.
    • 57% of employees what to update their skills. 
    • 71% of employees say work training and development increase their job satisfaction.

    By meeting the professional development needs of employees, you show that there’s room for them to grow with your company and that you care about their future potential. 

    3. It enhances employee engagement.

    Building a highly engaged team can increase company profits by 21%. However, it can be challenging for employees to feel that their opinion matters or that they have a hand in decisions that affect the organization. This is especially so in big companies.

    Developing an effective knowledge-sharing culture is one of the best ways to enhance engagement. By doing so, you communicate to your teams the value that knowledge sharing offers to the company and their career prospects. In turn, it encourages them to collaborate and form meaningful connections. 

    4. It sparks innovation.

    In any industry, agility and innovation greatly influence your long-term success. Otherwise, you’ll be left behind as the industry and market evolve. Knowledge sharing paves the way for new ideas and strategies, which can help give your company an edge over competitors. 

    By encouraging collaboration between different teams and departments, you create a platform where everyone can share their knowledge and experience. This helps spark conversations that can lead to groundbreaking developments in your business. 

    5. It improves relationships with clients.

    Knowledge sharing can also help improve relationships with clients. If, for example, a client has an issue that a team member does not have the knowledge or resources to solve, they can draw on the knowledge of other team members to find the right solution.

    Doing so helps build trust and credibility with clients, as each team member now has a larger arsenal of information and solutions to provide better service. 

    6. It makes it easier to identify growth opportunities.

    With increasing competition, a key part of surviving is growth and evolution. While you may have strategic personnel to facilitate such matters, others can contribute positively. 

    By allowing your team to share their knowledge and experience, you let them know that you value their contributions and collaboration. This encourages them to contribute more, opening an avenue for new ideas to flow in through. In turn, this makes identifying opportunities for growth and expansion easier. 

    Which employees should participate in knowledge sharing?

    Ideally, all employees should be involved in knowledge-sharing activities. But it is especially important to involve subject matter experts who could benefit the organization most. 

    Some of the employee groups you should focus on include:

    • Recruits: Knowledge sharing enhances the onboarding experience because new hires need the right information to understand the ropes of their role. Some methods you can use to facilitate this include shadowing more experienced employees and one-on-one mentorships.
    • High-potential employees: These are the employees you want to invest in and groom for leadership positions. Knowledge sharing helps them gain the skills they need and bridge the gaps in their development.
    • Retiring employees: Retiring employees are important in knowledge sharing. They have a wealth of knowledge that needs to be passed on and retained as company assets.
    • Non-intersecting departments: It is important to encourage collaboration among different teams and departments, as this can help foster new ideas and innovation. It also helps to facilitate communication and keep all teams on the same page. 

    Four steps to improve knowledge sharing

    Even without the intervention of management, employees share knowledge. However, it’s often not at a rate that guarantees no knowledge or expertise is lost when an employee leaves or harnesses opportunities for innovation and growth. Therefore, it’s integral that you take measures to promote deliberate and strategic knowledge sharing.

    Here are some of the steps you can take to establish sharing processes:

    1. Develop a culture of knowledge sharing and support it.

    In the corporate world, anything crucial to a company’s success should be enshrined in its culture. Otherwise, employees will take it as an optional task rather than an essential way of doing things. 

    Ensure the team understands why knowledge sharing is important and how they can contribute. Encourage them to share their knowledge and experiences with others, such as attending conferences or working on projects together. 

    In this regard, you’ll want to:

    • Get top management to embrace knowledge-sharing so that others follow suit.
    • Incorporate knowledge sharing into company values.
    • Enhance company morale by fostering an inviting and non-judgemental environment. Employees who feel safe and open-minded will be more inclined to share their skills with others.
    • Encourage learning and experimentation with the right incentives. Represent failure as a part of innovation and success.
    • Celebrate and reward team members who actively engage with your knowledge-sharing system.

    2. Create a knowledge base for sharing.

    It’s not enough to encourage knowledge sharing. You also need to give employees an avenue to pool their collective knowledge. Start by creating a platform where they can share their ideas and work collaboratively. 

    You can achieve this using intranet tools to create forums, project management tools and apps, or knowledge management systems. Through these platforms, employees can share information and expertise easily.

    3. Create events or opportunities for experts to share their knowledge.

    You can also create events or opportunities for experts to share their knowledge with the rest of the team. This could be through seminars, guest lectures, or workshops. 

    Having experts share their knowledge motivates your team to learn new skills and develop themselves further. This also helps them see the bigger picture and learn how their contributions can help the team. 

    4. Have a formalized knowledge management process.

    Lastly, develop a formalized knowledge management process. Doing so helps ensure that all the information employees gather is properly documented and stored. This makes finding and accessing information easier, which is invaluable during problem-solving initiatives. 

    Going forward

    Ultimately, knowledge sharing allows organizations to make the most of their team’s skills, knowledge, and experiences. It helps ensure that each employee’s knowledge is utilized, enhances the development of employees through upskilling, and encourages collaboration and creativity that breaks down silos. 

    At the end of the day, organizations that actively promote knowledge sharing are the ones that succeed. With each employee’s unique skills and know-how, you can push boundaries and stay ahead of the competition. 

    So, what are you waiting for? Start implementing knowledge sharing within your organization now and watch your team grow. Also, you can explore our glossary to learn more about knowledge sharing and learning and development in the workplace.