If you’ve decided that your company needs an internal knowledge sharing platform, you also know that you should do your best in order to get as much as possible out of your investment. An increasing number of organisations are considering this option, as they are looking forward to making large amounts of information easier to find, but also significantly reducing the amount of wasted time, caused by repetitive questions.
No matter the size of the organisation, investing in a knowledge sharing software will pay off in terms of saved time and money, as well as increased productivity. However, to successfully introduce the platform to the entire team, you also need some extensive change management.
Significant changes will occur in company culture, as people will need to engage with the platform and go to it when they have questions, or solutions to new problems. This is one of the ways knowledge sharing can help with change management, as employees who used to ask a team leader whenever they had questions will now mostly use the platform.
A company culture that endorses open boundaries, trusting coworkers, as well as sharing information across functional boundaries exists within a company, then undoubtedly everybody will embrace change gladly. However, something to pay close attention to is tacit knowledge, closely aligned with culture and containing the rules, values, and behaviours carried by the DNA of an organisation.
Generally speaking, organisations that have more informal structures, whether we’re talking about workforce design or physical space, are prone to develop a culture of knowledge sharing which can help those in charge of change management come up with better change integration strategies, with longer-lasting results.
So, the question is: how can “flexible structures” be facilitated, in order to encourage free flowing information sharing? Well, training and communication can always help when it comes to change initiatives, but the specific knowledge of new processes, tools, and skills needs to be passed on to employees.
When it comes to the new practices that can be added to a list of change management activities that could increase employee involvement during change – at a deeper and broader level – the possibilities are almost endless. Institutionalized job exchanges, whether these happen pre or post-implementation, designing and executing new communication strategies, new forms of communication, managing “share” rooms or even offering incentives for those who help to rebuild the tacit knowledge of the organisation are just a few examples.
Let’s take a look at the best practices that can help your employees embrace change sooner and easier.
1. Present the platform as a first-resort resource
Implementing a knowledge sharing platform within a company can be a real challenge for some employees. But if you present it as the place to go for a large array of resources, they will become motivated to use it.
Using the platform yourself – along with members of your executive team – is very important. Set a few goals for knowledge sharing and announce them, as an extra incentive for potential contributors as well. People are more tempted to do something when there’s some kind of reward involved.
2. Make it clear why the change is necessary
It’s not a secret that most people are likely to resist change in the office, which you can manage more easily through knowledge sharing.
Start by being honest with your team and presenting all the reasons behind the decision to implement the platform. Identify all the problems within the company and explain how having a lot of information in one place can actually improve results. Finally, focus on the most important aspect: everything is happening to make their life easier, not harder.
3. Involve every department of the company
Top executives in the company aren’t the only ones who play a key role in the successful implementation of a knowledge sharing platform. They are the ones in charge of creating excitement around the launch, but, in the end, it’s the users who generate the real value.
Your mission is to spot the leaders in each department and tell them why you believe in them and how should they help everybody go through the change brought by the implementation.
4. Use marketing collateral ahead of the launch
Marketing collateral isn’t just content looking to promote a company’s product to consumers. It can also be used internally, when introducing, let’s say, a knowledge sharing platform.
Get help from the marketing department to make the new solution popular within the company, so it can become attractive for employees and make them contribute with content.
To sum up, knowledge sharing can facilitate change management on many fronts. Also, we can narrow down the basic elements of a knowledge sharing culture to three:
- Reusing knowledge is more valuable than reinvention
- Sharing knowledge helps you advance in your career
- Failure is encouraged in the process of innovation, as long as you learn from it
People, processes, and technology are essential, interconnected concepts, that need to work together in order to create a knowledge sharing culture. Documenting knowledge, as well as past experiences, in order to use them for future-proofing an organisation takes a lot of courage, alongside a very complex strategy and plan.
In the end, organisations that future-proof themselves will be the ones able to outperform those who don’t.