Your team is amazing, that’s why you work with them, but are you allowing them to live up to their full potential? Every individual has unique skills, ideas, and knowledge that can help their colleagues and your company. The problem is, this valuable resource often goes entirely untapped – knowledge is siloed, and information is left languishing on some cloud storage service. But it doesn’t have to be that way! A simple knowledge management system can boost your team’s productivity and your company as a whole.
Knowledge management is the system you use to capture, share and utilize the information in your company. Importantly, this includes how you tap into the wealth of knowledge your employees have in order to share that experience with your wider team. This makes knowledge management far more than just your company Wiki – although that is part of it – it is a developing, changing, organic set of strategies for productivity and growth.
Here, we’re going to go through three robust strategies that you can use to boost your knowledge management, including:
Creating an environment for quality knowledge sharing
Implementing and using a knowledge management system
Building individual knowledge for collective success
Establishing a Culture of Sharing
The first step towards strong knowledge management at your organization is creating an environment that encourages regular and higher-quality knowledge sharing. You can introduce the best knowledge management system in the world to your company, but if your team members don’t use it, then it’s next to worthless.
You need to encourage open communication and collaboration within your organization, and numerous strategies exist to achieve this. First, simply make sure that everyone knows that their feedback, ideas, and opinions are welcome – if a team member is coming from a company where they weren’t expected to speak up, this culture of sharing must be explicitly stated.
As with many strategies, employees will look to management to see whether it is being genuinely implemented, so ensure that your leadership team is trained in open communication and is actively practicing it. What’s more, it can be important to have a more formal approach to feedback at the start, so encourage management to seek out, listen, and respond to employee feedback on a regular basis.
When it comes to sharing knowledge and expertise, rather than just feedback, you might need to try other methods to motivate remote employees other than just asking them. Have systems in place that recognize and reward employees who actively participate in knowledge sharing. This can range from simple steps, like giving them a shout-out on your company platform, to more substantial rewards like cash bonuses. Find a range and balance that works well for your organization, but make sure that you find a way to reward team members appropriately.
Many employees can be held back from meaningful knowledge sharing by not knowing how they should do it – or often, fear of doing it wrong. That’s why it is so vital to establish clear guidelines and best practices for sharing knowledge within the team. These should include the type of knowledge or skills people should share, how that sharing can take place, as well as how and when to use collaborative technology to leverage as much benefit as possible.
Using Technology to Facilitate Knowledge Sharing
A knowledge management system or platform is a vital part of your organization’s knowledge-sharing strategy. It gives your team the tools and space to collaborate, allowing them to focus on the what rather than the how of getting their voice heard.
The first step is actually implementing a knowledge management platform. The most crucial part to consider is simplicity – will the platform require hours of onboarding and end up using more time than it saves? Look for a platform that fits in with your existing team workflow rather than forcing you into a new one. Spike, for example, allows you to use your existing business email addresses to access a range of tools, from video and voice calls to collaborative Notes, Tasks and To-do Lists.
Which brings up an important point – what tools do you actually need for a knowledge management platform that fosters teamwork and collaboration?
First, as mentioned earlier, your organization is likely to need some kind of “Wiki,” which is a repository of information created by and for the members of your team. However, this shouldn’t be a static entity – instead, look to use collaborative tools such as editable docs and group workspaces. Collaborative Online Notes are a fast and simple way to create and share a database of knowledge, and with the power of Spike Groups’ team collaboration, you can ensure that everyone who needs access to info has it at the touch of a button.
Project Management Tools
A database does not make a knowledge management system. If left unattended, a shared Wiki can easily fall into neglect, which is where active project management comes in. Use tools to track and share project information and updates and link to more general collaborative notes. Effective project management with email integration allows for streamlined knowledge sharing within specific projects, keeping your knowledge database growing and your employees actively engaged. There are many project management platforms available, so it’s important to find the right one for your business.
Direct Lines of Communication
Not all knowledge sharing is done one-to-all; much of it is in small groups or even just between two colleagues, making direct lines of communication just as vital to a knowledge management platform as more open collaborative tools. A good system solution will offer your team a range of channels so they can use the ones that suit them and the information they want to convey.
For example, if a team member wants to give an in-depth explainer on a new project or lead, a video conference might be useful. If, however, they are looking to give an update, then a simple message will probably suffice. Spike offers a range of options that your team might find useful, including email, Voice Calls, Video Meetings, Voice Notes, and more.
Providing Opportunities for Professional Development and Learning
In addition to fostering a culture of sharing and providing the tools your team needs, it’s important to actively increase your organization’s collective pool of skills and knowledge. When you have a good knowledge-sharing and management system, training for one is training for all, meaning any investment in professional development will offer returns far greater than before.
First, you should actively encourage your team members to attend conferences and workshops related to their field, including the possibility of financial incentives. Team members should be encouraged to bring this new knowledge into the collective pool, sharing it with the wider team through collaborative documents, seminars, or working sessions. This helps the individual team member, fosters an environment of sharing, and adds to your company’s collective knowledge.
Sometimes, knowledge sharing can be further facilitated by offering cross-department training and development programs for team members. This helps break down any silos before they appear and is a valuable team-building exercise. If you want to implement an even more direct program as part of your knowledge management strategy, then a mentorship program to help build team collaboration is highly valuable. You could, for example, establish a program whereby team members anonymously list skills or knowledge they would like to share, then other team members can see what they’re interested in and be paired up regardless of ‘seniority.’ This is a great way to ensure the information flow goes up and down the company and break down barriers between team members of different levels, so they are more open to learning and teaching in the future.
Knowledge management use case:
Darren and Crowne use Spike to keep information flowing freely in real-time, in whichever way is most convenient for them. Spike’s many modes of communication— whether text, voice, gif, video, or doodles— are there to support them in ways that work best as a business messaging app.
Read more about Darren Olstad, the founder of Crowne Law that uses Spike as a business chat to guide his clients.
Knowledge is Productivity: It’s Time to Harness It
A robust knowledge management system can increase your team’s productivity and your company’s workflow. It allows you to tap into the wealth of knowledge your employees have, share it with the wider team, and build on it through collective knowledge growth.
Moreover, a good knowledge management system is relatively simple to implement and run! Just follow the basic strategies that we’ve outlined above:
First, leverage technology to create a knowledge management system at your company, including collaborative docs, project management tools, and various lines of communication.
Second, foster individual knowledge for collective success through professional development and learning. Remember, investing in individual growth will pay dividends for the whole company when paired with knowledge-sharing workshops and mentorship programs.
Finally, and most importantly, all this must be built on a culture of open communication and collaboration. Creating an environment in which knowledge sharing is the norm is vital to ensure the long-term success of your knowledge management program. This is a long-term practice and will include letting people know their input is valuable; ensuring your leadership team is actively practicing open communication; recognizing and rewarding employees who participate, and establishing clear guidelines and best practices for knowledge sharing.
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