There are two schools of thought about how information should flow within companies. By far the most common way is chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that, while it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company.
-Elon Musk in an email to Tesla employees
Here’s a question for you…
If an employee at your company makes a game-changing revelation, what do they do with it?
Don’t worry, this isn’t a test. Your answer will likely depend on several additional questions:
- Does your company culture encourage and reward knowledge sharing?
- Are communication channels clear and open across departments and seniority levels?
- Is it easy for employees to communicate with one another, even when they’re not in the same office?
If you couldn’t confidently answer yes to all of these questions, you’re not alone. Many organizations struggle with two issues when it comes to sharing information: knowledge hoarding and poor communication flow.
The first challenge to overcome is a tendency toward knowledge hoarding, which occurs when employees feel compelled to keep valuable information to themselves. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including excessive competition, lack of trust, or fear of being wrong.
The second challenge, poor communication flow, can be the result of cultural or physical barriers to communication, which block certain employees from sharing knowledge with others.
Overcome these hurdles! Try these three strategies to develop a culture of effective knowledge sharing within your organization.
#1 Acknowledge Individual Contributions In Real Time
If you’ve got a knowledge hoarding problem at your company, it may be beneficial to roll out policies that incentivize collaboration. Yes, this means changing your culture – no easy feat – and yes, it’ll be worth it!
One way to incentivize knowledge sharing is to make it possible for employees at all levels to recognize one another’s achievements, instead of leaving it up to management. This way, instead of fearing that others will take credit for their ideas, employees can pursue recognition for sharing valuable knowledge.
Qnnect’s Appreciate feature allows employees to celebrate one another’s achievements and contributions publicly, giving credit where and when it’s due.
Keep in mind that positive reinforcement works best when it is timely. Don’t wait until performance reviews roll around! Highly engaged employees should be able to give and receive feedback in real time on a regular basis.
#2 Establish Channels for Cross-Functional Communication
In many cases, lack of information sharing is not due to a lack of willingness. Often it comes down to a basic inability to effectively communicate knowledge with the right people.
As organizations grow, communication channels can become convoluted and employees may not understand how to share what they know with all of the people who could benefit from their insights and experience. This can result in lost time and productivity – and thereby money – particularly when multiple individuals or groups working on related issues at the same time fail to share breakthroughs or results.
If that sounds familiar, an internal communications app could be an effective cost-saving solution. With Qnnect, employees can share information broadly by posting News updates and they can also share directly through the secure Chat feature, which allows direct messaging between individuals and between groups.
#3 Break Down Communication Barriers
Let’s say you’ve already established a culture of openness; your employees know that they can and should share information with colleagues. You also have clearly designated processes for who should share what information and when. Yet, for some reason valuable information is still falling through the cracks.
What’s stopping your employees from sharing information with the team? It could be a simple but critical issue: missing infrastructure.
If you really want information to flow freely and efficiently, it has to be easy! Not just for employees who work in the same office or spend most of their time at a computer, but for employees who are on the go or working remotely as well.
This is where mobile solutions really prove their value. A mobile communications app can help remove physical barriers to communication, so that even if you can’t gather all of your employees in one room, you can share information from all corners of your organization – and even across the world, in an instant.