Let’s start with a cliche: knowledge is power. And because it’s powerful, people can either hoard knowledge — or share it to benefit more people.
You can guess which option a forward-thinking organization prefers. In fact, the latest edition of Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends study ranks ‘knowledge management’ as one of the top three issues influencing company success, yet only 9% of surveyed organizations feel ready to address it.
Your people are sitting on a wealth of career, industry, institutional, and organizational knowledge — and sharing that knowledge with their teammates will build a stronger culture and company. But what does it look like to build a knowledge-sharing culture, why is it so important, and how do you foster and promote it? What tools can help you along the way? Let’s dig in.
What is a knowledge-sharing culture?
Knowledge sharing is the exchange of information across your organization. It leads to organizational transparency, incentivizes the collaborative exchange of expertise, and promotes healthy growth.
A knowledge-sharing culture goes a step further, creating space for open communication about the wins, losses, and lessons that employees are collectively experiencing in the spirit of camaraderie and progress, not competition. Investing in a knowledge-sharing culture is just as important as selecting the right information and knowledge management tools.
Why it’s important to create a knowledge-sharing culture
Consider this: Let’s say a tenured employee leaves their role as the leading content marketer at your organization. What happens to all of the product or company know-how, systems, documents, and processes they’ve built once they clock out for good? That institutional knowledge leaves with them.
However, if you’ve invested in communication systems and tools that make it easy for employees to share knowledge and collaborate, you’ll know your teams are naturally absorbing cross-functional intel from across the company. There are myriad benefits to creating a knowledge-sharing culture:
If employees don’t feel psychologically safe or feel like their knowledge is their job security, they may want to hold on to their specialized knowledge. You can prevent knowledge-hoarding by creating systems like an internal company wiki for employees to upload critical information and fill in knowledge gaps.
Improve psychological safety
An empowered knowledge-sharing culture also gives employees the freedom to admit what they don’t know without repercussion. And when employees feel trusted with information from their peers, they’re also empowered to think more creatively about problems.
When employees feel empowered to share what they know freely, critical information is passed along more quickly, and work speeds up.
How to create a knowledge-sharing culture
Maybe your teams are extremely siloed, and your team is resistant to implementing any knowledge management plans. Changing the status quo is tough, but there are clear ways to start creating a knowledge-sharing culture.
Show your employees how knowledge-sharing benefits them
The visibility of knowledge-sharing can be intimidating — no one wants their coworkers to witness a gap in understanding. The other side of that coin is: People want to retain credit for their work. Provide clear examples of how knowledge-sharing can help them find answers, do their job better, and grow in their role.
Offer incentives and rewards
Find out what motivates your team. Reward knowledge-sharing behaviors by offering incentives for documenting and sharing work.
Keep it personal
Don’t just require your employees to share everything they know — let them showcase it. Maybe your ace project manager can create a definitive “Guide to Client Kickoff Calls.” This way, your team owns and takes pride in their know-how. It also assures the individual gets credit for their work, which makes employees feel valued and respected.
Lead by example
If you want your team to share knowledge, show them how it’s done.
Always being right allows very little room for growth. Celebrate mistake-making by providing space, like a digital bonfire, for your employees to share their lessons learned.
Make it required
Your employees don’t just want another task to check off. So, if you want knowledge-sharing to really stick, make it part of their job description. Have your team reserve time in their week to compile and share information.
Invest in the right technology and tools
First, look at what tools your team already uses. Maybe your entire organization uses a CRM or a unified project management tool. Look for tools that complement or integrate with the systems you already use and how your team works. This will minimize resistance and improve adoption across your company.
Tools to facilitate knowledge-sharing
Creating a knowledge-sharing culture is the first step. Now, you need tools to make the most of the good collaborative habits you’ve set.
Messaging apps and other communication tools make it easy to collaborate right within the flow of work vs. drafting and sifting through email inboxes. Communication happens quickly and is often used to maintain easy communication between dispersed teams. Employees can quickly upload files, huddle on a project, and loop in multiple stakeholders to ask quick questions. However, most messaging tools lack a place to store and share information outside of threads.
Internal company process wiki
Create a centralized knowledge hub where employees can share resources and knowledge for every process, department and project. Ideally, it has a robust organizational and search functionality to easily organize, filter, and find important information.
Internal meeting wiki
Adding meeting notes to an existing wiki can make sense but can also become quickly convoluted. You want the meetings tied into your schedule or calendar and without needing to sort through multiple Google Doc pages or an inception of docs in Notion. That’s exactly what Clearword can help with. Easily document meetings in one place and find the information you need post-call in a central and searchable meeting library.
Start investing in a knowledge-sharing culture
Clearword makes it easy to capture meeting information and notes and organize and share and store that information in a central location. Even better, Clearword can help managers and teams build a knowledge-sharing culture by making it easy to contribute asynchronously to a shared meeting page, collaborate on agendas, brainstorm ideas, and share action items. See how Clearworld can help you start investing in a knowledge-sharing culture.