Written by Guest Blogger Michelle Arios. Check out her bio below.
In order for a workplace to be successful, one hand has to know what the other is doing. If knowledge and understanding aren’t evenly distributed throughout the office, you’ll wind up with strong employees who feel burned out from carrying the weight of others, and improperly informed employees who are struggling and exceeding their stress thresholds trying to complete projects that don’t make sense to them.
If you want every to reach and achieve their full potential, you’ll need at least one system in place to encourage effective knowledge sharing. Bridging the gaps will help teams accomplish more and bring about a surge in workplace productivity.
1. Use The Internet or Internal Networks
When your employees were onboarded with you, you likely gave them manuals, handbooks, and training. Those were your materials, but they weren’t as specific or informed as the knowledge floating around inside the minds of your creative employees. Have them rework the system.
By creating an open guide, particularly one in a wiki style, you can encourage your best and brightest in certain areas to contribute knowledge. People who don’t have a thorough understanding of a specific policy or procedure can read the material written by someone who does. Everyone has their own areas of expertise, and putting them in charge of writing their expertise into a knowledge guide will help them come together to create their own useful resources.
2. Give Them Clever Pairings
Great teams and dynamic duos aren’t people who are individually capable of doing everything by themselves – they’re people who are adequately balanced by someone with different skills. By pairing or grouping together those people who each have something to offer the other, their combined powers will create a workplace superhuman. They’ll be learning from each other throughout the duration of a project, and by the time that project is complete, they’ll have some professional development to show for it. Before you know it, they’ll be breaking out of brainstormingruts and becoming innovative thinkers.
3. Create Enough Co-Working Spaces
A certain portion of knowledge sharing happens naturally. If you put people in the same room for long enough, eventually they’ll all walk away having learned something. If the layout of your office or confined working spaces prevent the organic interaction necessary for effortless knowledge sharing, you’re going to need to make some changes.
Create more co-working areas and open air spaces where employees can freely collaborate. Put up whiteboards to allow them to draft up concepts and discuss things together. If your office space is too small to accommodate this type of working arrangement, it may be worth investigating larger office spaces. You’re likely outgrowing the building you’re currently in.
4. Empower Them to Their Strengths
You can’t make everyone a manager – things would be chaos and payroll would be a nightmare. What’s far more feasible is making someone an authority. Allow employees to be the authority for whatever they’re the best at. Other employees will know who to speak to when they have specific questions, and the person in the authority role will feel empowered. Deeming them an authority exhibits the amount of trust you have in them and how valued they are. Reward authorities with small perks to show them that you appreciate them.
5. Incentivize Workplace Teaching
Gamification in the workplace makes it more fun and gratifying to do just about anything. Knowledge sharing can easily be gamified. All you need to do is incentivize its exchange. Assign whatever system you’d wish – give employees points for helpfulness, for learning new skills, for voluntarily mentoring someone who needed a little extra help, or for resolving consequences that came from a breakdown in communication.
6. Start Internal Training Sessions
Who better to train your employees than someone with first hand experience accomplishing the task at hand? Hold a training session, and allow your best employees to train on specific subjects. This will be vastly more effective than any other training method, because pre-prepared materials and solutions will not account for the real life nuances of the workplace. Your employees have firsthand experience solving certain problems, and allowing them to share their knowledge in a training environment will yield better results than any other training method could.
If you create the right environment, your employees will be more than happy to share knowledge with each other. Ask them what they need and allow them to have it – even if it means making some major changes. An educated staff is a staff that builds a successful company.
Michelle Arios is an experienced project manager who supports BizDb– an online knowledge library. She is also a blogger who often shares her tips for starting and growing a successful business. Freel free to reach her at @MichelleArios.