We begin with interviews. We interview as many people as we can. We put together the common findings into a survey format. Then we invite a bigger group to do the survey.
We want to identify the current barrier to knowledge sharing within the organization's community. This means identifying the answers to the following questions:
- Do employees know who to share information with?
- Do employees know what information to share?
- Do employees have information to share? (the answer to this is sometimes disturbing)
- Do employees know how to share information
- Do employees know when to share information?
- Do employees want to share information?
Who to share information with?
This is a knowledge problem. The employees need to know who to share their knowledge with. Which specific person(s) within the organization would benefit from their knowledge? They need to have a greater/broader understanding of the organization and the ability to find people. They need a system to look up or discover other people whose work would benefit from their knowledge.
What information to share?
Similar to the above, what information/knowledge do they possess which would be relevant to others?
If you put a gun to an employees head and told them to participate in the internal knowledge management community (or community of practice), would they be able to do it? If not, it's a knowledge problem.
Do they have information to share?
Are employees looking up new sources of information? Are they collecting it from other employees, looking at news journals, or doing their own tests? If they don't have information to share, you need to work on building these processes.
Do employees know how to share information?
This is usually a technology problem. Do they know what information to share, through which channels, and in what format? Is it better to share some information through specific channels?
Do employees know when to share information?
Is there a trigger to prompts employees to share information? What time during their day (or in what situation) should they share information through the community? You need to carve out the time during the day to do this and then make it a regular habit.
Do employees want to share information?
We leave this to last, but it's the biggest one. If the motivation isn't there, they won't do it. They often don't share because they want to be seen as unique, don't like other people (or have silo-conflicts), are worried other people will use the information to get a promotion above them. You need to address and tackle these concerns.
Embed this into objectives, use a negative nudge (fear of missing out), appeal to being seen as among the experts in the organization.
If you're just beginning a project to get employees to share more knowledge, the above is a good starting point.
If you want to learn more, sign up to the Virtual Community Summit in London from Feb 20 – 21.
This is the first event dedicated to mastering the psychology you can use to increase growth, activity, and the value of any community. Learn more, click here.