Cubicles physically wall us off from our surroundings. Headphones help us stay heads down and focused. These physical barriers aren’t bad things, for some of us it’s what helps us generate our best work, but they often hinder our abilities to come together and have an open dialogue as an efficient, effective and cohesive unit.
With the natural segmentation that occurs in an office setting, making a concentrated effort to open the lines of communication and taking the time to share knowledge with one another is important, both to the individual success of employees and the company as a whole. Knowledge sharing not only protects a company if and when a person choses to leave, it fosters an environment where everyone wins. Knowledge hoarding can only lead to spinning wheels and headaches.
I was reminded of how important this is when I was brought into a discussion that I was tangentially involved in. At the time, I was still onboarding my accounts after returning to Hodges, so I was saying “yes” to every meeting so I could digest as much information as possible. In the conversation, my brilliant colleagues were talking about something that happened to be the missing piece to another account I was working on. If I hadn’t been invited to that discussion, I might have completely missed something that would have revolutionized how we approached another account.
Look at the Internet and one of the best examples of knowledge sharing: WordPress. If you’ve ever worked in the world of the web, you know there’s a lot of love out there for open source platforms like WordPress. Why? Because when we collaborate and work together across our industry, we can constantly improve and learn from each other – reducing the amount of time spent banging our head against the wall and increasing our productivity.
Understandably so, some people may get nervous sharing their knowledge with others for the fear of being devalued, or even worse, expendable. People may also feel the need to be compensated for the extra step of showing someone more junior or less experienced how to do something. Starting to foster the culture of knowledge sharing early on is a great way to get in front of some of the negative thoughts about sharing.
Sharing thoughts can be done in person or digitally. Entrepreneur highlighted three knowledge sharing tools, some of which we currently use at Hodges – like Slack, that can help your organization start to embrace a more open and sharing atmosphere. Getting into the habit of identifying moments to share your expertise or raise your hand and ask someone to provide some thought leadership makes us stronger communications professionals.