Knowledge sharing practices can mean the difference between a company that works efficiently and one that is always backtracking.
The way your company transfers knowledge matters at every level of the organization. Frontline employees turnover faster, and you need effective ways to train and upskill them to reduce the costs associated with that turnover. Knowledge workers, on the other hand, own important corporate responsibilities. If they knowledge holders transfer over their projects in an effective way, you can lose hundreds of hours of employee work.
US knowledge workers waste 5.3 hours per week waiting for essential information from their colleagues or recreating knowledge that already exists. Because time is money, this results in $47 million in losses to US businesses every year.
Bad knowledge sharing practices aren’t just costly. They can frustrate employees, leading to a lack of engagement and poor employee retention, only fueling further monetary losses.
Here are 15 ways to improve how your employees manage and transfer knowledge.
Implementing Knowledge Sharing
A great video tutorial starts with well-structured content. Here’s how to make your videos awesome:
1. Create a knowledge sharing taskforce
For anything to succeed, it needs ownership.
Set up a knowledge sharing taskforce with people from different departments. The leader of the taskforce might be someone in HR, and other members can be directors or managers of each department.
This taskforce will be in charge of reviewing current practices, identifying opportunities for change, and implementing new practices and solutions. At first, they might need to do a few meetings in order to revamp your company’s knowledge management. And then, their collaboration can likely shift to a quarterly review.
2. Craft a strategic vision for your knowledge sharing practices
Do you have a strategic vision for how your company collects and transfers knowledge? If not, why?
Your knowledge sharing taskforce should work together to create a strategic vision for your knowledge sharing. They should also update this at least annually.
Here are some examples of what you might put in this vision:
- Employees should feel supported and safe in sharing their in-progress work.
- Employees should understand that sharing knowledge is a priority, that it’s okay to spend time on it, and that it can’t be continuously put off.
- Employees should use no more than 4 tools to store and discover knowledge. These tools will have different purposes and will not overlap.
- Team managers will regularly assign knowledge sharing tasks to employees and follow up on their completion.
What do you want knowledge sharing to look like? Put that in your vision. Get it written down so that everyone is on the same page moving forward.
3. Get the entire company in one project management software
The right knowledge sharing tools can automate a good chunk of knowledge storage and accessibility. You’ll need a project management software like Asana, ClickUp, Notion, or Monday.com. Encourage employees to not only use the software to track their tasks, but to also include all of the links and assets associated with that task. For example, let’s say that your company is working on a welcome kit to mail to new customers. In the task card for this project, the collaborators should link to the copy and design work, the quotes for the finished product, and anything else that’s relevant. This way, new employees who later want to improve upon this box, can find all of the original work.
4. Foster a company culture that values transparency
The effectiveness of your knowledge management practices has a lot to do with your company culture. In companies that are very cutthroat and competitive internally, workers might be afraid that someone will steal their ideas and take credit for them or that someone will judge work their work before they’re ready. Research from the Harvard Business Review shows that employees who are afraid of being criticized or losing their job are unlikely to share knowledge.
This means that simply pressuring people to share knowledge won’t work if the company culture doesn’t support those actions.
To address this issue, you need to create a company culture that values transparency throughout every stage of a project―not just when handing it over to someone else.
For example, many tech startups use their project management software or an internal wiki to openly share what core projects each department is working on. People can easily check what their own team and other teams are up to. You might also encourage team leaders to send a weekly email sharing everyone’s main priorities with links to those in-progress projects. But keep in mind that fixing your company culture will take a lot more work.
Learning Management Systems
5. Set up a learning management system for roles with high turnover
Your frontline workers and customer service employees tend to have a higher turnover rate than corporate knowledge workers. Most industries experience about 15% employee turnover, but call centers face rates of 30-45%.
Identify the roles and departments in your organization that have the highest turnover rates. Scale your training for these departments with tutorials organized in a learning management system (LMS). You can use a tool like Weet to record, store, share, and comment on videos.
Weet offers several useful features for creating tutorials:
- Video trimming
- Adding chapters to videos
- Workspaces to organize videos
- Refilming videos without changing the video URL
- Comment threads for each video (comments can be text, video, or voice responses)
- Viewer and view count analytics
6. Establish knowledge sharing habits at all levels of the organization
You shouldn’t treat knowledge sharing as a big project to tackle occasionally. Instead, it should be handled regularly—little by little. Here are some habits to instill.
Knowledge sharing habits for executives:
- Continuously update your knowledge sharing vision
- Discuss knowledge sharing frequently with the executive team
- Check in with department heads about their knowledge sharing practices
- Transparently share company initiatives and in-progress work
Knowledge sharing habits for managers:
- Assign knowledge sharing tasks to team members
- Check in with team members about the ease of accessing important information
- Review and improve team utilization of knowledge sharing tools and knowledge bases
Knowledge sharing habits for workers:
- Create a weekly knowledge sharing to-do list (ex: check all project task cards every Friday and add any links, resources, or attachments that you forgot to include during the week)
- Proactively take notes about times when you can’t access important information and share this with your manager
Rely on your knowledge sharing taskforce to source ideas from multiple employees, craft the non-negotiable habits, and share these with the right people.
Knowledge workers need a digital asset management system to store and discover assets like logos, press kits, product images, social media graphics, and lots more.
Here’s an example from Bynder of the sorts of assets a company might need to store:
Choose a digital asset management system that offers advanced organization and metadata features such as titles, descriptions, tags, search functionality, folders, categories, etc. And of course, make sure that all employees get in the habit of adding everything they create to the DAM with all of the right metadata.
8. Review onboarding practices across all teams
It’s easy to think of employee onboarding as simply creating a new email address and setting up direct deposit payments. But onboarding is about so much more than HR processes.
The most important parts of onboarding happen outside of HR’s view, control, or knowledge. We’re talking about the team onboarding process—when new hires get introduced to current projects and take over ownership.
Individual team onboarding practices should be reviewed at least twice a year. Someone on the knowledge sharing taskforce can actually be a part of the onboarding process for a new hire by asking to be included in the communications and onboarding calls. This reviewer can then share their constructive feedback with the manager of that new hire.
SOPs and Knowledge Sharing Reinforcement
9. Create and share standard operating procedures (SOPs)
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are documents that can be used to detail and share steps to complete a task. Employees should be in the habit of creating these and updating them throughout their employment term—not just when they are ready to leave a company.
Marketer Jay Desai says that to make process documentation as useful as possible, we should always put in examples. And in good form, he provides plenty of examples himself such as how to run a keyphrase search or what makes for a good landing page:
10. Incentivize great knowledge sharing
Positive reinforcement is a powerful thing. Neuroscience research shows that random positive reinforcement is the most effective. This means that receiving positive reinforcement occasionally works better than receiving it every time you do something. This way, the brain is trained to associate that activity with a positive reward, but we want to keep doing that thing because we don’t get the reward every time. (This is why slot machines are so addictive.)
To utilize this phenomenon, make sure to reward your employees occasionally when they follow great knowledge sharing habits.
Here are some examples:
- Send an employee a thank you note when they create a training video.
- Give an employee a restaurant gift card for taking on a big knowledge sharing task that positively affected the whole team.
- Treat your team to a team lunch for creating new SOPs.
11. Utilize video and voice recordings regularly
There are certain forms of knowledge that just can’t be shared using text. Some things are too nuanced and complicated for text alone to capture.
Make sure that your team has a tool for asynchronous video and voice recordings. Whether added to an SOP, Slack message, or email, links to video and voice recordings allow employees to share complex information and examples quickly. This reduces the need to schedule meetings, meaning that employees can send and receive information right away, instead of waiting for that meeting to occur.
What’s more, these video and voice recordings can be scaled. Employees can share them with other employees. If someone makes a quick explanation video and the recipient leaves the company a month later, the creator of the video can simply share the video with the new hire.
12. Share actual knowledge during your team meetings
Team meetings have a tendency to only scratch the surface. People talk about what they’re working on and any blockers. The team leader shares important updates that apply to everyone.
But what about accessing the actual work? Team meetings rarely include this information.
Make sure to use part of your time during team meetings to update everyone on where certain assets and projects are located. And when people are talking about their work, make sure that they refer to the projects by the official names used in your project management software.
Offboarding and Feedback
13. Improve your employee offboarding procedure
Your employee offboarding procedure probably includes revoking access and other cybersecurity measures. But what about knowledge sharing?
While the hope is that employees share knowledge throughout their employment term, the reality is that some people will procrastinate this until the very end. When someone gives their 2-week notice, make sure that managers encourage them to spend a good chunk of their remaining time sharing knowledge rather than just wrapping up current projects. Your company will lose less money by retaining access and transparency into everything they were working on rather than trying to squeeze more productivity out of that individual.
14. Clarify project ownership as the company scales and roles change
As companies grow, one role will split out into many. For example, a content marketing manager might be managing SEO, PR, and social media. But as a startup grows, that one role could split out into 10 or more. In fast-growth startups, work gets lost and balls get dropped.
Many of the best practices already mentioned here can resolve this (such as the training videos and SOPs). But it’s important to consider how this applies to the creation and separation of roles. Make sure that the department manager is giving existing knowledge to the right new hires.
15. Collect feedback from employees on knowledge sharing practices
As with most things in life, the way to make your knowledge sharing practices better is through constructive feedback.
Here are some ways you can get input from employees:
- Send out an annual or bi-annual survey with questions like “Can you access everything you need to get work done?” and “How frequently do you update SOPs?” and “Do you need different knowledge sharing tools or features than what we currently use?”
- Ask team mates for feedback occasionally during team or company meetings.
- Have a form that employees can use to give feedback at any time, and add “knowledge sharing” as one of the submission categories.
Because knowledge sharing is so complex, many managers tend to throw up their hands or put it off. When you follow these best practices, you accept the complexity and rise to meet the challenge.
With Weet, you can easily create and share video and voice recordings. Use Weet for messages, tutorials, and more. Sign up for free