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Using Knowledge Management to Transform Your Company Culture

February 26, 2019

Using Knowledge Management to Transform Your Company Culture

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Knowledge Management Solutions That Can Impact Culture Across Organizations

If you’ve ever had the misfortune to work in a highly political environment, meaning that your coworkers are constantly trying to show each other up in order to gain an advantage or advancement within the workplace (in other words, an environment where competition is favored over collaboration), then you already know what a drag it can be on morale and productivity across the whole company. For every “top performer” who stands out in such an environment, there are typically scores of workers that are operating well below optimal performance because of the overall toxicity of the company culture.

The way that a company shares knowledge from team to team can have a tremendous impact on the way that company performs across several KPIs. When coworkers are working in an environment that champions collaboration – in other words, one that facilitates the sharing of knowledge between workers and across various teams – they are free to feel empowered when it comes to collaboration, innovation, and driving performance. For this reason, if for no other, many companies are working today to implement, to manage, and then to measure knowledge management solutions.

Barriers To Sharing Information You Should Watch Out For

In many cases, the barriers to knowledge management solutions are entirely ingrained in our perception of success and competition. The mentality that there can be no winners unless there are also losers drives many otherwise intelligent leaders to implement incentives that ultimately work against the sharing of information. After all, if we’re to be compared with each other when it comes to determining our worth, and my having information gives me an edge over my coworkers, then what is my incentive to share that knowledge with anyone else?

With a focus on individual and not team performance, a certain amount of resource-scarcity mentality is bound to set in. Because of this, replacing individual performance incentives with group performance incentives can be a positive step for many companies. Beyond that, instituting a knowledge management policy that measures collaboration among both individuals and teams through their sharing of information is a better way to encourage the sharing of knowledge in the workplace.

Policies That Encourage the Sharing of Knowledge in the Workplace

Implementing a full knowledge management solution can be a tough sell at many companies. But, a full technological solution that is managed and measured is the gold standard worth aspiring to. There are many steps that your company or team can take in order to encourage the sharing of knowledge between coworkers and across teams that can help to tear down barriers to collaboration, and to drive both team performance and innovation. These include the following:

  • Encouraging Flexibility
    • Innovation requires flexibility, and flexibility requires stretching. In order for your team members to feel more comfortable sharing information and to work collaboratively, they must feel like they will not be punished for stepping outside of the confines of what is considered “work.” Much of collaboration begins during the social “non-work” hours spent at the workplace. If coworkers feel comfortable socializing with one another during breaks, at work social gatherings, etc., then they are more likely to begin the necessary work of collaborating with each other.
  • Asking for Input
    • Asking your team members for their input on problems that are being experienced across the entire organization, and within the confines of their own roles and teams, is a best practice that should be implemented and managed immediately. Not only are employees more likely to feel empowered and appreciated when they are asked to participate in problem-solving and innovation, but it also empowers them to engage in collaboration, applying their knowledge and creativity to problems that are experienced in other parts of the organization.
  • Driving Collaboration With Technology
    • Using knowledge management, collaborative project management software, and other technological solutions can be a great way to embed collaboration and information sharing into the processes that make up the collective experience of working. While a complete knowledge management solution may be a hard sell in your current corporate culture, starting to work toward one by providing and utilizing tools for collaboration can be a great step toward a more sharing future.

The Future of Knowledge Management – Encouraging Knowledge Sharing Across Organizations

Many companies experience less-than-optimal levels of success by either favoring competitive environments over collaborative ones or by holding and “protecting” knowledge in the hands of a few key players. To truly maximize the potential of your organization, the sharing of knowledge within and across teams in order to drive innovation through collaboration is key to your success, and not simply a best practice.

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Tim Lawes serves as Manager of Solutions Engineering, ITSM at SolarWinds. ITIL 4 certified, he brings 10+ years of training and consulting experience in the software industry, helping customers find creative solutions and implement ITSM best practices.