Knowledge, as several studies have shown, helps to create more innovative, creative and performing teams. In two words, teams that are more competitive.
The reason is simple: an improvement in know-how allows people to work more effectively, thanks to the right tools for situation analysis and problem management.
The knowledge management barriers
Information does not always travel smoothly between people and departments: cultural, operational and personal factors can block the sharing process, leading to very serious consequences over time.
Here are some very common examples.
Lack of strategic thinking on the company’s side
Inviting an expert from time to time or organising a brainstorming session once a year is not enough: these activities are only useful in the short term (for updating courses or for implementing new software).
Knowledge sharing must be a cultural factor, encouraged by management as a value, and shouldn’t become just a mere compulsion (with the possible opposite result).
Lack of time
When people are overloaded with work, it’s difficult for them to stop and talk about current projects or help each other. This is actually a serious mistake: continuous sharing, as mentioned in the introduction, makes everyone’s work more efficient.
“Hoarding”, “accumulating” and “hiding” information are, unfortunately, quite frequent practices in the world of work, especially in highly competitive environments.
This phenomenon mainly develops in individuals who want to make themselves indispensable to the team in order to improve their status or receive financial incentives. It’s also typical of people who are insecure about their jobs due to a lack of skills, confidence or because of market volatility.
In addition to creating inefficiencies, this kind of behaviour is also detrimental in terms of relationships and creates, in most cases, hostility among employees. Human Resources must keep an eye on such situations, which can cause considerable damage over time.
Always relying on the “usual ones”
Don’t know something? Ask him. Can’t do something? Ask her. (Intellectual) laziness is a toxic behaviour that requires immediate management action.
Not only does it impede the professional growth of those who rely on others, but also wastes valuable time of those who always have to respond.
3 ways to improve knowledge sharing in the company
- Encourage the creation of searchable documents
Create, store, share and get rewarded – the right incentive often has more power than compulsion. Why not apply this theory to knowledge management? Rewarding employees who create useful documents for their colleagues (guides, explanatory mini-videos, collections of useful resources) can quickly create a virtuous circle.
- Set a good example (starting from the management)
Leaders should be the first to share their knowledge, through daily conversations and dedicated time. Many companies use mentoring practices: older employees work alongside younger resources, providing valuable information gained from experience (and not from books).
- Listen and control
As mentioned above, some of the sharing barriers come from people’s negative behaviour. It’s a manager and HR task to constantly monitor teams and check the situation in case of reports from employees.
“Knowledge is power”, but only if knowledge is managed in the right way.