How to Improve Knowledge Sharing Across A Growing Team

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Why knowledge sharing is important — and how to do it as your company grows

Your company is growing, and you’re adding more people. That’s great! But sharing knowledge is getting harder as your team gets bigger, too.

When Rémy-Christophe Schermesser joined software company Algolia as an engineer, it was only 25 people. They held weekly standups to keep everyone in the loop and share knowledge. “Everyone knew what everyone else was working on,” he said.

Fast forward a couple of years, and the company had grown to 150. They had to find ways to stay connected and continue sharing knowledge. So they started weekly “Show & Tell” sessions, where team members would take turns giving presentations on work-related topics.

steps-to-knowledge-sharing

That’s just one creative example of how teams are sharing knowledge today. But knowledge sharing is a common challenge for growing companies of all sizes. And it’s a challenge that can come with big consequences if left unaddressed.

At Honey, we're on a mission to help companies solve the challenge of knowledge sharing and make workplace communications more thoughtful, inclusive, and simple. Sign up for a demo of our beautiful intranet >>

The importance of knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing refers to capturing information that lives with individuals and making it available across an organization. That information includes facts and processes — what people do and how they do it — as well as expertise, cultural norms, and the reasoning behind why they do certain things.

According to researchers, the more knowledge that can be moved from individuals and made available organization-wide, the stronger and more effective your company becomes. On the flip side, businesses that don’t take steps to improve knowledge sharing suffer from slower decision-making, less innovation, redundant work, and the same mistakes made over and over.

You can have the most knowledgeable, experienced employees on your team, but without formal mechanisms to accumulate, store, and share their knowledge, the positive effects will not last.

3 core ingredients for efficient knowledge sharing

Efficient knowledge sharing requires three core ingredients: connected people, documented resources, and a system to continually capture and share the knowledge from them.

1. Connect your people

Some of the most important expertise in your business can’t be written down.

There’s a whole body of knowledge that’s developed simply through experience. It’s called tacit knowledge, and it includes reasoning and values that individuals develop because of their exposure to various things over time. This accumulated experience is what stands behind judgment calls that are made every day.

Because this wisdom is embedded deeply within people, the most effective way to share it is person-to-person. And whether your business is among the growing number of distributed teams or you’re co-located, you need to formally create ways for people to do this.

Here are some ways to connect people and improve tacit knowledge sharing:

  • Job shadowing lets your team share knowledge among departments and roles. For example, this helps, according to Josh Bean at Zendesk Sell.

  • Mentoring, which matches up a novice with a more experienced person, gives people access to knowledge and practical experience under the guidance of an expert.

  • Even something as simple as reviewing each others’ work lets people learn from one another. In the IT space, among teams, for example.

  • Forming cross-functional teams brings people together from different parts of the organization. This lets them share knowledge with people they might not otherwise interact with as they work together.

As people tap into others’ knowledge, it becomes clearer what information needs to be documented.

2. Document your resources

You probably haven’t made it a priority to document everything if your company is growing fast. But the information that people need to do their work must be written down and codified for everyone to access if you want your business to function efficiently.

It’s never too early to start documenting things. But you’ll see a clear signal that documentation is needed when people are spending a lot of time searching for information or asking the same questions over and over.

The sorts of things that lend themselves well to documentation include:

  • New-employee onboarding materials

  • Training documentation

  • Procedures for common tasks

  • Lists of tools available to employees

  • Company announcements

  • Meeting notes and recaps

Once you have a handle on documentation, you need to set up a system to capture those facts and repeatable processes efficiently.

3. Set up a system

A good system for knowledge sharing needs to be accessible to everyone whenever they need it, easy to use (so they’ll actually use it), and able to store various types of information. The best solution captures information in a spot that’s a central part of company operations.

An intranet makes sense as a knowledge-sharing platform because it’s a tool that people use every day. And the special features in Honey make it ideal for growing businesses.

A Honey intranet has the functionality of a corporate wiki or knowledge base built right in. It’s cloud-based, so teams can add and access the knowledge they need no matter where they are. Advanced searchability makes resources easy to find. And Honey integrates with dozens of other tools, too.

Technology company Leonardo used to use email to share knowledge. But people were getting left out. Now, the team uses Honey to share links. No one is left out of conversations, new hires are able to immediately jump in, and there’s a searchable knowledge base for future reference. Read more...

Video libraries are a powerful way to share knowledge. If a team member misses an event or a meeting, they can go view the video archive on your intranet. Or, when a new person starts at your company, they can review past videos of your all-hands meetings so they can come prepared for their first one. This helps codify knowledge without further effort beyond recording the event.

Groups connect people in Honey. Setting up groups according to departments, physical office locations, projects, and interests keeps others in the know, thanks to feeds and customized notifications when new resources are added.

A comprehensive people directory makes it easy to get to know others. Team members can view photos of their coworkers and search for relevant skills to find the right person quickly. This supports connections that can lead to knowledge transfer and a more informed, friendly workplace community.

A resource page shows all the important tools, dashboards, and links for your company. You can post the information that matters most on your company-wide resources page, and you can also create resources pages for groups. This gives a complete list of the software and apps available to your employees.

But, even with your people connected, your processes documented, and a system in place, you’re not done quite yet.

Knowledge sharing is not something you can ‘set and forget’

Knowledge sharing never ends. You have to continue to feed new people and new resources into your system, and update them as they become outdated.

To create a culture of knowledge sharing where this can happen, company leadership must be committed. When you make knowledge sharing a priority, others around you make it their priority, too.

Then, setting up a Honey intranet gives your team the infrastructure they need to carry it out. Honey provides a single source of truth that pulls together all your communications, tools, and documents into one home base. It gives your teams a dependable way to see what’s going on at the business and where to find the information they need to do their jobs.

At Honey, we're on a mission to make work better by making workplace communications more thoughtful, inclusive, and simple. Sign up for a demo of our beautiful intranet >>