Knowledge Retention: (3/7) Encouraging the employees to share their knowledge

Previously on Knowledge Retention not People Retention (I always hear that in my head with Keifer Sutherland’s voice!) I talked about Enabling the employees to become knowledge sources and How to find out where the knowledge is. Next I’m going to briefly skim over one of the biggest difficulties to new learning systems, and indeed new systems full stop, in any organisation, culture change.

Actually to be honest I’ve avoided talking directly on it and rather focus on how to get the employees involved in the process of giving their knowledge to the organisation, after all that’s what the organisation wants and needs.

Culture change…need to feel that they are giving knowledge…not that the organisation is taking…

Before systems can be put in place to work to retain this knowledge there needs to be a culture change. Employees have to be allowed and encouraged to use these tools, and to feel that taking the time to copy their knowledge is a positive and sanctioned action by the organisation. Yet more than that they need to feel that they are giving knowledge to other employees and being recognised as such, not that the organisation is taking the knowledge from them for nothing, otherwise the knowledge transfer just won’t happen.

The culture has to be changed to allow people the time to carry out informal learning during their working hours, otherwise they will not feel empowered to spend time sharing information and assisting their colleagues. This is perhaps the most difficult area for companies to tackle, the idea of trusting their employees and giving them the freedom to focus on other things than their daily objectives is a frightening one. Surely these employees will just waste the day surfing the Internet and chatting.

Now, here’s a hard bit. They will. What the organisation has to do is accept that, at the start of the change and when new employees join, they will spend time away from the core business function. It also has to be agreed and factored into their roles that they will spend time self learning, engaged in discussions and general informal learning within their role and that their Line Management should allow, encourage and even review and reward their engagement in such areas.

Review and reward the employees…

Indeed come review time Line Managers should review employees performance within the collaborative and informal learning environment and positively reward them for engaging in knowledge sharing, retention and collaboration.

Something that employees should be particularly rewarded for is being an active Expert, and this should be viewed as an achievable and enviable role for anyone to hold. Except you don’t know who the Experts are do you? Well, actually you do…and that’s the focus for the next article in the series, Giving the employees the tools to share their knowledge.

In the next article I’ll talk about learners as experts, what tools they can be given to help them promote their expert knowledge and facilitate the off loading and capturing of this knowledge, and how to find and gain access to these experts.

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