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5 tips to establish a knowledge sharing culture

Sarah Laoyan contributor headshotSarah Laoyan
February 10th, 2024
5 min read
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Knowledge sharing is the act of developing processes to help an organization access important information across multiple teams. In this article, we discuss different types of knowledge your team may want to document and actionable tips to build a knowledge sharing culture within your organization.

Sharing information is something we do every day. A quick text, a conversation over coffee, or even a phone call are all examples of knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing in the workplace is equally prevalent. But in order to capture and document knowledge, you need some strategy, consistent communication, and regular updates. Here’s how you can do this.

What is knowledge sharing?

Knowledge sharing is the act of developing processes to help an organization access important information across multiple teams. There are different subsets of knowledge management, but knowledge sharing is the specific process of distributing information so that your team knows how to access and share it with other team members if need be.

There are three main types of knowledge:

  • Explicit knowledge: The most basic form of knowledge. This information is easy to share because it is easily recorded and communicated. For example, directions on how to log in to a new email account would be considered explicit knowledge. 

  • Implicit knowledge: An easy way to explain implicit knowledge is “learning by doing.” This type of knowledge is information you learn by applying explicit knowledge. For example, you can read explicit information on how to drive a car, but you don’t actually learn how to drive until you get behind the wheel. 

  • Tacit knowledge: This is information that you learn based on personal experience. This type of information is challenging to share because it’s often personal or cultural in nature. When this information is shared, it often involves practicing skills over time. For example, knowing how to land a sales pitch is a good example of tacit knowledge. You can rehearse a script all you want, but landing a sales pitch requires you to listen to your audience and understand small nuances that you can only get from practice and experience.

Knowledge sharing vs. knowledge management

Knowledge sharing and knowledge management are two processes that are very much intertwined. Knowledge sharing is a process that falls underneath the knowledge management umbrella. Knowledge management is the proactive strategy of organizing, sourcing, and storing information.

Think of this process like a public library: knowledge management is gathering the books and deciding how to organize them on the shelf. Knowledge sharing is creating the process for how to share those books out to the people who need that information.

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The importance of knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing is an important part of building the foundation of your company’s culture. It sets the stage for how to communicate and share information within the company, regardless of your role. Here are a few key reasons why you should encourage knowledge sharing as part of your company culture.  

Develops connections between your team members

Knowledge sharing between team members is a good way to increase collaboration and improve teamwork. You can share important information such as your team’s processes, communication preferences, and strategy documents. This helps break down information silos and share the important information teams need to successfully collaborate on a project.

Provides a source of truth for documentation

The process of knowledge sharing allows your team to establish a central source of truth for important information. This can be anything from team processes to a workplace code of conduct. In the event that someone on your team wants to search for information, they’ll know exactly where to go.

Prevents siloed information

When your team regularly shares and stores relevant information in a database, everyone on your team has access to important information. This means that information is not owned by one singular person. You don’t want only one person to know a crucial piece of information because if that person ever gets sick or leaves the company, you would no longer have access to it. Knowledge sharing means that the rest of the team has the information needed to keep the workflow functioning smoothly, regardless of who’s involved. 

5 tips to share knowledge in your organization

Knowledge sharing isn’t the responsibility of one person or team—-it’s the responsibility of the entire organization to ensure that all information is shared correctly. Here are a few tips to ensure how to encourage knowledge sharing in your company. 

1. Develop a knowledge management strategy

If you’re in the early stages of knowledge sharing in your organization, start by developing a knowledge management and communication strategy. The best way to develop a knowledge management strategy is to collaborate with other team members and decide what information is important to document. If you’re having a hard time deciding what information is important, think about what kind of information the people on your team and cross-functional partners need to know to get their work done.

Still unsure what kind of information to put in your knowledge management strategy? Try answering these questions:

  • Is there a certain process or procedure someone needs to follow to do a certain task?

  • What information do our regular collaborators need to know to work on this project?

  • What information would my team need to know if I were unable to work unexpectedly?

  • What information is crucial for regular business operations?

2. Promote the right culture

Fostering a culture of sharing information starts from the top. If company executives lead with transparency and are willing to share how their processes work, individual contributors are more likely to follow suit. It’s important that your leadership provides opportunities for knowledge sharing to happen consistently and organically. 

Read: Want to be a better leader? Try being vulnerable

One way you can do this is to set up spaces in your workplace that promote organic knowledge sharing. For example, collaborative work spaces like conference rooms and open plan offices can help foster conversation. If your team works remotely or has a hybrid office model, you can also foster knowledge sharing both in a “face-to-face” setting via a video conference, or asynchronously through knowledge bases and project management tools

3. Encourage different mediums of knowledge sharing

Your team members all have a variety of different skills and ways they best communicate. One of your team members may be a fantastic writer and can easily share information in a concisely written document, while another may be a better public speaker. This could mean that your team has different ways of sharing information. No matter how your knowledge is shared, like a video or a step-by-step manual, it should all be accessible and live in one place. The best way to do this is to use a knowledge management platform that can support different types of files.

4. Identify the team experts

No matter the size of your company, your team will have a handful of people who are experts on how processes work. If your company is just starting out, find the people who are creating processes and have them write it down. For larger organizations, work with team leaders to identify specific people who have expertise in certain areas. It’s important to have documentation of procedures and information so your team can refer back to it for reference.

Here at Asana, our team uses Areas of Responsibility (AORs). Anybody who is responsible for that item is also responsible for documenting the knowledge that relates to that specific responsibility. This means that everyone shares the responsibility of documenting information and knowledge. It also means that a wide range of topics are covered, and nothing gets left behind. 

5. Establish a collaborative knowledge base

While different team members may have different ways of sharing information, there should be a universal location for this information to live. Using a digital knowledge base can make it easy for your team to upload information and edit it when information changes. Digital knowledge management also helps your team stay up to date with the most relevant information, because the information can be updated in real-time. This helps prevent your team from accessing any outdated or irrelevant information.

No more silos: Optimizing your organizational structure for stronger cross-team collaboration

In this ebook, learn how to structure your organization to prevent silos, move faster, and stay aligned in the face of change.

Optimizing your organizational structure for stronger cross-team collaboration ebook banner image

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