A few days ago, I was discussing with a few of my colleagues regarding team works over lunch. During our conversation, Roger van Lieshout and Ali Ekici asked me to write a post about knowledge sharing among the colleagues. So, I thought it’s time to put pen to the paper and write about it. I am glad my colleagues inspired me to write about such an interesting topic, because in the process of doing so, I myself learned a lot from doing small online research. Here’s my view towards, Knowledge sharing among the fellow colleagues:
To start with, let’s get back to the root. We all know what is knowledge, but when it relates to an organization, do we really what is it? Based on my online research, Knowledge is one of the most critical organizational resources which provide a sustainable competitive advantage in a competitive and dynamic economy (Sheng Wang, Raymond A. Noe, 2009). Innovation may be one of the key drivers in gaining competitive advantage; organizations must also consider how to transfer expertise and knowledge from experts who have it, to novices who need to know (Sheng Wang, Raymond A. Noe, 2009).
So, what’s the definition of knowledge sharing?
Based on definition by Jackson, Chuang, Harden, Jiang, & Joseph, 2006, Knowledge sharing is the fundamental means through which employees can contribute to knowledge application, innovation, and ultimately the competitive advantage of the organization.
Knowledge sharing refers to the provision of task information and know-how to help others and to collaborate with others to solve problems, develop new ideas, or implement policies or procedures (Cummings, 2004; Pulakos, Dorsey, & Borman, 2003). Knowledge sharing can occur via written correspondence or face-to-face communications through networking with other experts, or documenting, organizing and capturing knowledge for others (Cummings, 2004; Pulakos et al., 2003).
How does it help?
Research has shown that knowledge sharing benefits organization in following ways:
- In reducing production costs
- Faster completion of new product development
- Enhances team performance
- Induces ﬁrm’s innovation capabilities
- Increases sales growth and revenue
How can we promote a knowledge sharing culture?
Personally, I believe it all starts from individual characteristic. Many of you who are reading this post now, have already experienced colleagues or fellow classmates who are reluctant to share their knowledge. But, it doesn’t mean, you have to follow the same path. I truly believe “Knowledge sharing as a learning experience for the sharer”. More, you share more you learn more. Not only that, it creates a bond of trust between the fellow colleagues. This makes life easier for everyone and working together enhances performance. Like, I discussed in my previous post, knowledge sharing promotes Co-creation and it’s one of the crucial points for being an innovative company. So, instead of waiting for your colleague to make the first step, why don’t you make the first step? Don’t just think about it. It’s time to do it.
Time has changed, communication should not only flow from top to bottom and bottom to top. There should be a transparent communication and knowledge sharing culture in the organization. Top management should not only give orders and make the decisions rather they should share their expertise and knowledge with the employees in order to derive desired performance from the employees. Research has shown that, Managers who have shared their knowledge with respective subordinates, their performance has been positively influenced (Sheng Wang, Raymond A. Noe, 2009). So, Top management should break out of the hard old shell and move towards more transparent management attitude.
Rewards and Incentives
Till date various researches have been carried out rewards and incentives influence on performance. I am not talking about individual performance or individual rewards. Many companies make the mistakes of introducing individual rewards and incentives for knowledge sharing and end up in losing more than gaining. Rather group based incentives works as a positive catalyst compared to those that individual incentives as it creates more interaction between the employees and results in creating strong and positive relationships.
Researches have shown that organizations with higher female: male ratios were more likely to engage in knowledge sharing (Sheng Wang, Raymond A. Noe, 2009). Not only gender diversity influences knowledge sharing, in fact multi-cultural organization tends to develop better knowledge sharing culture. With the right balance between individual culture (e.g. Europe) and group culture (e.g. Asia) tends result in sharing views from an absolutely different angle which is unknown to another culture and vice versa. This not only brings unique nature to an organization, rather works as a positive catalyst towards to innovation and performance.
Trust and Justice
Based on research, Individuals tended to share less knowledge with team members who were perceived to be very capable and share more knowledge when they believed other team members were honest, fair and followed principles (Sheng Wang, Raymond A. Noe, 2009). Hence, Managers, Top management should engage with employees in collaborative communication, i.e. disclose one’s own expertise and limitations. This increases the feeling of trust and justice within employees. Such organizational culture results in creating knowledge sharing culture.
Last but not the least, one of the most modern tools is Social Media. Modern and innovative companies engage with its own employees via social platforms such as LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook, twitters etc in order to share knowledge. Using social media, companies can adopt suitable for different behavioral styles, offering people the ability to passively observe (and take inspiration) or to be actively involved depending on what they prefer. Being actively involved in social media with employees creates strong transparent image to the outside world as well. Might sound funny, but many of you who are reading my post right now, came via social media references like Facebook, Linkedin, Xing etc., isn’t it?
Well, that’s my perspective towards knowledge sharing. What’s yours? Feel free to drop a line and SHARE your view.