KMWorld 2024 Is Nov. 18-21 in Washington, DC. Register now for $100 off!

Hoarding information is stunting growth: Six ways to create a culture of knowledge champions

When colleagues keep information and strategic insights “close to their vests” so they can remain competitive in their own role within the company, it may benefit the individual in the short-term, but it holds the company back in the long run. Companies that break down the stigma of hoarding knowledge and instead work toward creating a strong culture of “knowledge champions” and internal mentorship will succeed in today’s economy that is characterized by IPO freezes and billion-dollar startups losing their “unicorn” status.

But first, what is a knowledge champion?

Knowledge champions believe that helping others will not only further their own career trajectories but also benefit their teammates, companies, and customers. They see sharing knowledge as a practice, not a project. Knowledge champions are often thought of as the employees who have something to teach—usually the subject matter expert (SME) or the wrangler of SMEs. But when knowledge sharing is a core practice of the business and culture, everyone is empowered to be a knowledge champion.

Creating a culture of knowledge sharing requires a shift in culture. This may sound like a daunting task, but it’s doable if you approach it with incremental changes across the key areas of your business. From hiring to measuring business outcomes, there are ways to weave knowledge sharing into the fabric of your company.

Here are six shifts to get you closer to a culture of knowledge sharing.

Communicate cultural values up front

Make sure people know from the very beginning that knowledge sharing is a priority at your company. During the first stages of the interview process, screen for a candidate’s ability to work effectively as part of a team and positively impact others.

Here are some questions that help assess a candidate’s ability in this area:

1. Tell me about a colleague or manager you admire. What qualities do you try to emulate?

2. Tell me about a team dynamic that just wasn’t working for you and others. What did you learn from that?

3. What do you need from your team members in order to be successful?

It’s also important to communicate how your benefits encourage teaching, mentoring, and learning. Consider implementing L&D (learning and development) stipends, frequent “lunch and learns,” or book clubs on relevant business topics.

Identify and recognize the real MVPs

From the CEO down to the entry-level analyst, everyone’s an expert at something. Identify the core contributors and process experts across all functions and encourage them to share their unique insights with others.

Once you know where knowledge lives, celebrate individuals who demonstrate knowledge sharing with shout-outs on Slack, verbal kudos in team meetings, and implementing other forms of informal recognition like surprise gifts or swag. No idea is too simple. Integrating knowledge-sharing recognition opportunities into your day-to-day operating cadence will reinforce its importance, create connectivity within your teams, and incentivize thanking others for their help.

KMWorld Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues