What is knowledge sharing?
Knowledge sharing encompasses both making information available to those who actively seek it within your organization and directly communicating the appropriate knowledge to a user who could potentially apply it for the benefit of your business. Team leaders should regularly encourage, and possibly incentivize, knowledge sharing to make it part of a culture of learning within their organization.
Benefits of knowledge sharing
There are many benefits to effective knowledge sharing, both for individual employees and for your entire organization. With knowledge sharing, you can:
- Engage employees – Especially in larger organizations, employees may find it challenging to make their voices heard or play an important role in company decisions and initiatives. An effective knowledge-sharing culture works in two ways. It encourages employees to share their expertise and connect with other team members who can learn from or build upon that expertise. It also communicates how that knowledge contribution plays a role in big decisions or advancements.
- Reduce rework and redundancy – Whether it’s a proven solution to a common customer problem, an especially effective training program or a faster way to complete complex financial calculations, making knowledge easily searchable or sharable promotes productivity by reducing the need for rework.
- Make informed decisions – With the right knowledge at their fingertips, whether searched or sent, employees can make faster decisions based on relevant, verified, updated and often tried-and-true knowledge. Based on their unique experiences, they can also add to that knowledge, further enhancing their problem-solving and decision-making capacity.
- Avoid knowledge loss – Institutional knowledge has value. When someone leaves your business, their valuable expertise and experience can be lost to your enterprise. A strong knowledge sharing culture enables you to preserve that experience and expertise for your team’s future access.
- Spark innovation – By regularly engaging employees and reducing redundancies, you encourage employees (and free up their time) to contribute to company knowledge. This allows them to share areas of expertise you might not have otherwise uncovered and collaborate more innovatively and creatively with their colleagues.
- Identify growth opportunities – With a strong knowledge-sharing culture, you can identify frequent or especially impactful contributors who may offer unique expertise or have the capacity to inspire and teach their colleagues. Opportunities for recognition and promotion of these employees as subject matter experts or managers may follow.
- Improve client relationships – A well-informed employee, confident in their ability to find the right answers and deliver them to their customers, will provide better customer experiences. An employee who feels engaged and valued will also work harder to improve and expand customer relationships.
What is knowledge sharing in knowledge management?
Knowledge sharing is a knowledge management process that makes information available to those who actively seek it, as well as directly communicates it to users who could potentially apply it for the benefit of your business. There are two types of knowledge that apply within a knowledge management system:
- Tacit knowledge encompasses the experiences, skills, intuitions, observations and methods stored primarily in the minds of your employees—the way they work. While some of that knowledge can be documented, tacit knowledge is best shared by connecting the right employees and allowing time for mentorship, deep conversation and collaborative work.
- Explicit knowledge is documented information that is easily stored, organized, searched and applied. Reports and memos, instructions, training protocols and data sheets are examples of this type of knowledge which is readily available to employees through searches or direct shares (via email, webinars, etc.).
Learn more about types of knowledge and how we pass information to each other, as well as to individually learn, and grow.
What is a knowledge sharing system?
A knowledge sharing system is a resource that allows employees to access, share, and reuse or apply knowledge stored throughout your organization. That knowledge may be documented (explicit) or housed within the mind of another employee or company leader (tacit).
A knowledge management system with intuitive search features and well-organized, tagged content ensures that employees who seek explicit knowledge can easily find it, be alerted to other relevant knowledge and share it with other members of the organization who could put it to beneficial use.
To promote the exchange of tacit knowledge, an effective knowledge management system and culture should also offer opportunities for formal and informal connections with experts and colleagues. From shadowing or mentoring arrangements and hands-on training to less-structured discussion spaces or messaging applications, these connections allow for a more free flow of information.
Organizational learning & knowledge sharing
Continuous organizational learning allows your enterprise to evolve to meet the needs of your customers and market and helps identify new opportunities for growth. But continuous organizational learning does not happen in a vacuum. Your organization must seek and create knowledge, encourage employees to contribute new ideas and offer opportunities for employee development and discussions that may spark new thoughts and practices. It requires that you find ways to retain knowledge, so it’s not lost if certain employees depart. It also calls for knowledge sharing with the right people at the right time through intuitive searches, direct communications, and a culture that encourages regular sharing and collaboration.
You can use knowledge management tools to maximize organizational learning. These tools enable employees (with the right permissions) to collaborate on creating or updating documents, protocols and training materials; easily search for and/or share relevant knowledge materials; and connect in ways that allow tacit knowledge stored in the minds of individual employees to be more widely understood and applied (more explicit). Organizations learn and improve by sharing knowledge and acting on the insights gained from that knowledge.