What is Knowledge Sharing and which tools to use
One of the pillars on which a company is built is knowledge. This concerns all the information accumulated over the years that enables employees and managers to work synergistically. But this information is not always managed in an organised manner and is often only put aside by few people. Therefore, employees are forced to waste time in searching for data and content that should already be shared with them.
To avoid this, a knowledge sharing strategy is needed.
What is Knowledge Sharing?
Within each company, knowledge and how to deal with this is extremely important. There are two types of knowledge: explicit and implicit.
Explicit knowledge includes all theoretical information that can be easily passed on: company policies, product sheets and all knowledge that, once in written, can be dismissed.
In contrast, implicit knowledge (or tacit knowledge) includes all information acquired through work experience. This is more difficult to acquire since reading a document is not sufficient to understand its meaning. For this the right experience and context is needed.
For a company, the acquisition of such knowledge, both explicit and implicit, costs time and money. Therefore it’s extremely important to not lose it.
In order to do so, it’s advisable to implement a strategy of knowledge sharing: sharing corporate knowledge, among colleagues, teams and departments, making it available and accessible to all employees, quickly and whenever they need information.
What happens if there is no Knowledge Sharing?
Lack of knowledge sharing reduces the productivity of the company by causing loss of time and resources that could be used by employees for their own tasks. The main problems generated by the absence of corporate knowledge sharing are:
- Difficulty in finding information: employees lose time searching for the knowledge they need to complete their tasks. Often, not being able to find this information quickly causes the workflow to be interrupted, affecting both the employee and sometimes the entire department
- The employee is not autonomous: not being able to consult and manage documentation independently, the employee will have to contact colleagues and superiors to gain access to the information, thus prolonging the time needed to solve the problem
- Chaotic documentation: not being able to find the file he or she was looking for, the employee may think it does not exist, wasting time creating another one. Besides wasted energy, this also creates chaos within the existing documentation, as there will be several files with the same content
- Loss of knowledge: if not all knowledge is documented or easily accessible, important information such as best practices for solving problems may be lost
- Gaps in documentation: since documents are not shared, it will be more difficult to detect gaps, risking to only discover them when that information is needed, causing delay
Encouraging knowledge sharing: what the company can do
It is up to each company to make all the tools available to the employee to encourage knowledge sharing. Various strategies can be put in place to optimise knowledge sharing:
- Create storage policies: without company guidelines, each employee will store his or her own documents according to personal rules, creating chaos and hindering colleagues from consulting them. If, on the other hand, the company provides common practices, storage of documents will also take place in a uniform and organised way
- Make knowledge sharable: as we have seen, knowledge can also be tacit and therefore difficult to share. The company must give employees incentives to pass this knowledge on to colleagues and make it usable, also in written. The same applies to explicit information, which is not always archived and is passed on by word of mouth
- Promote a culture of sharing: employees are often reluctant to share information, thinking in this way that they are making themselves indispensable to the company. Through a corporate culture that encourages sharing, all employees will be asked to contribute and receive clarification, information and advice
- Provide the necessary tools: the aspects outlined so far will not solve the problem of knowledge sharing if they are not accompanied by software that can bring together all content in a single platform
Knowledge management for knowledge sharing
As we have just seen, it is the task of the company to put at the service of users
all those tools they need to be able to share corporate knowledge in a structured way.
For knowledge to be effectively shared, a knowledge management strategy is required.
But what is knowledge management? The objective of knowledge management is to bring together and organise all the knowledge of a company, the so-called corporate know-how, and make it available to employees.
Companies often use knowledge management systems to support employees in finding company content more easily. The software must have certain features such as, for example, being able to present the required information in a short amount of time.
In addition, corporate documentation must be accessible 24 hours a day, so that all departments can search according to their needs. In order to circulate corporate knowledge, a company-wide strategy is required to eliminate routine activities that waste employees’ time and increase productivity.