Often the best gifts are free. Your employees and coworkers already have eno ugh pens and coffee mugs. What they really would appreciate is the “gift of knowledge.” This gift cannot be purchased with the click of a button, but it is one which will be truly transformative to your workplace. How do you give such a gift?
Stop Hoarding Knowledge
Human nature drives employees to create their own fiefdoms. Often people will protect their own knowledge in an attempt to make themselves invaluable to employers. The problem with hoarding information is it weakens the team, slows production and creates adversarial relationships. And when someone leaves the organization, that person’s knowledge also walks out the door.
Create a Knowledge Sharing Culture
If people in your workplace are hoarding information, it’s time to change the culture. Implementing a knowledge sharing culture means increasing cooperation and exposing the depth of organizational knowledge so everyone is more productive. As veteran employees rise to the top, encourage mentorship programs for newer employees. Sharing knowledge does not decrease the mentor’s value; it establishes that person as a valued professional in his or her field.
Start at the Top
If managers hoard information, their employees will likely follow suit. Workers who are left in the dark about important company decisions will feel less motivated to cooperate. While maintaining the necessary confidentiality, share as much information as you can with employees about new projects or changes in organizational structure. Don’t just give them the bullet points; explain why changes are being made. Also, make sure you, as the boss, are mentoring your staff. One day you will be gone, but what you have contributed to your profession will live on.
Recognition is vital to employee satisfaction. To foster a knowledge sharing culture, reward teams, not just individuals. The energy of being part of a valued team boosts enthusiasm and productivity. Organize team-building events outside of the office. Employees are more willing to share knowledge with people they trust. And when they share their knowledge, they will simultaneously be building their own reputations as experts in their fields, thus gaining the individual recognition they crave.
Invest in Collaboration Tools
Employing an intranet system encourages sharing of knowledge. Many intranet services offer chat and file-sharing features. This allows employees to share solutions for common problems, reducing the need for manager intervention. Other collaboration tools focus on scheduling and organization to keep every member of the team up-to-date on changes. When employees communicate more regularly, knowledge sharing happens organically.
Reap the Results of a Knowledge Sharing Culture
The knowledge within each individual in your workplace is a gift which has the potential to benefit the whole organization. We only know what we know. An organization prospers when individuals share what they know and learn from others. Growth comes through continuous learning. Everyone benefits from interacting with peers, managers, or even subordinates, who possess a different set of competencies. Sharing knowledge leads to new ideas and innovations. We work faster and smarter when knowledge is shared.
So what will you give your employees this Christmas? An astute manager will realize the gift of knowledge far surpasses anything which can be purchased. It may take effort to implement a culture of knowledge sharing, but the resulting boost to organizational efficiency is a gift that keeps giving.