Gone are the days when people could hold on to information, thinking that ”knowledge is power”.
The speed of change means that unhelpful, competitive thinking is no longer desirable nor sensible. The era of openness and even more transparency is upon us.
Any organisation that wants to raise levels of innovation and change progression needs to proactively get their employees communicating better, generously sharing what they know, their expertise, insights and experience, as well as their ideas.
However, if there is no culture of sharing, changing this can take some time. So, there’s not time to wait, get the ball rolling if you want to increase innovation in your organisation.
Here are some tangible strategies to get employees to share what they know:
Be a role model – share what you know
If you’re the leader, make sure you are a role model for what you want others to do. In this case it means you need to be the one who starts sharing. This could for example mean that in team meetings you share observations you have made about competitors, industry trends or ideas you have for how you could change the way you do something as a team. As a team member you can also do this, you don’t have to be the leader to share. As a team member you can also become a role model, sharing can make you a kind of “informal” leader – as leadership is the act and art of influencing others.
Praise and recognise people who share
Notice when people share, thank them and make the connection between their sharing and what it has led to or could lead to. For example: “Thanks for sharing. Now that we all know what competitor X is doing, we can have a creative discussion about how we meet that competitive challenge”. If you reward this behaviour then you will see the ripple effect of the sharing continuing and spreading.
Host a “PODSÔ”
Make sharing easy by holding specific sharing events. We call these “PODS” (Power Of Dynamic Sharing). Do you need to know what people know/think about a specific subject? Then invite them to an hour or two of dynamic sharing on that particular subject. These are the high-level steps involved:
- Decide what you want to achieve by running a PODS
- Invite the people who can have relevant input (keeping in mind that there may be people who may at first seem remote to the subject, but could still give valuable input based on their role, experience or expertise) These can often be the people who have the most innovative ideas.
- Prepare for the session by creating a series of very open questions that can draw out answers or trigger discussion as needed
- In the session, reiterate the purpose and what people are expected to do (ie. “you are here to share your knowledge on subject X”)
- Gather as much information as you can, if possible, captured on flipcharts so the groups can see the output and keep building on the discussion if relevant.
- Draw any conclusions that are needed then and there in the meeting – and communicate next steps (ie “I will now use your input for this….”)
- Use the new information you have gained about the subject – and keep the relevant people (including those who contributed) informed of progress.
Make links to the big picture
Talk to your team about how you all contribute to the overall vision of the organisation, and how sharing information with each other helps fulfil the team’s purpose and contribution to the bigger picture.
The most important reason why team members need to generously share what they know is that EVERYONE knows something that the others don’t. Don’t waste this opportunity for growth and success! What could you share today?