How many times have you seen an employee leave a company and take a specific set of information and experience with them that nobody else had access to? Probably too many to count!
That's why it's so important to capture the knowledge that your team members have and share it throughout the organization. The benefits are endless, but here are just a few to get you excited. Knowledge sharing helps organizations like yours:
In this page, we'll tell you everything you need to know to get started. Happy learning!
When it comes down to it, every business is made up of people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and career paths. Because of that, everyone has a unique blend of knowledge and points of view. Wouldn’t it be great if you could tap into that information, capture it, and share it with the rest of your organization? How awesome would that be for your business?
That’s the power of knowledge sharing.
When you’re able to bring that wealth of knowledge to the forefront and make it accessible to others, you’re compounding the impact it brings to the table. For example, if someone on your sales team has a strong background in social selling, it may help them do their job but it’s useless to the rest of the team. However, if they have the means to easily articulate and share that knowledge with the team, then everyone can learn the power of social selling and your sales could skyrocket.
More often than not, organizations already have the knowledge, experience, and skill they need to succeed but it’s harnessed in one person or another and not across the rest of the team. Or, if they do have a system in place, it’s in written format which takes a long time to create and is difficult to consume.
Nobody has time to slow down and write down everything they know about social selling, customer service, or product development. And even if they did, nobody has time to stop doing their jobs long enough to read through that documentation, study it, learn it, and consume it all. That’s what makes knowledge sharing through video such an effective approach.
As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power.” In the business world, the more information a team has access to, the better they’ll perform. Say that you have an SDR team whose main responsibility is to schedule as many product demos as possible. Every time they run into a roadblock with an objection, they make a series of videos.
So, the next time that objection comes up, the rest of the team that knows how to overcome the objection in the future!
When you get really sophisticated with knowledge sharing, you can create a whole repository of information like that. Being proactive and getting ahead of objections in the sales process, clarifying the standard operating procedure for data entry, avoiding class mistakes that beginner customer service reps make – these are all examples of things that can be stored, shared, and implemented to drive the success of your business.
When trying to implement a knowledge-sharing program for the first time, there are some common pitfalls and stumbling blocks that people run into:
Most often, this stems from the assumption that building a system for knowledge-sharing has to be more complicated than it actually is. Like with learning any new tool, there’s a learning curve and it may take some time to get up and running. However, you’ll find that it’s actually super easy to implement.
It’s not supposed to be a scary or intimidating process. It’s not supposed to be disruptive to your operations or add “one more thing” to everyone’s plate. It should be fun, easy, and exciting!
What am I going to say? What questions am I going to ask? Is anyone going to care?
These are questions that challenge even the most seasoned of writers and storytellers, but there are some easy ways to overcome them with the right preparation.
That’s where storyboards come into play.
Providing some basic cues and prompts go a long way in making your employees feel comfortable and confident in sharing what they know. The best knowledge-sharing platforms have these cues built into them to make the whole process feel less intimidating.
Having the right editorial work in place will provide people with the structure to share content. That’s done best by providing them with prompts and specific questions to get them engaged and using open-ended questions to have them effectively share information for a specific business case.
Using video is important because it humanizes everyone in the organization. It’s a medium that everybody wants to use but is very unsure of using because they assume it's very time-consuming.
Not all employees want to engage and that’s okay – people want different things out of their jobs and careers. However, if you get those really engaged employees to create content and share that in an effective way within the organization, others start to see those engaged people sharing their passion for what they do and why they do it. It's contagious.
Employee-generated content, or EGC, is exactly what it sounds like: content that's been created by employees. All employees have a story to tell and employee generated content is a platform for them to create and share that story.
Having a system in place to share EGC is a wonderful way to keep employees engaged. It empowers your workforce to share their voice. As humans, we all crave connections with one another and when content comes from people we know, it resonates and feels more relevant.
So, if employees are getting content on a daily basis from your coworkers as opposed to just your senior leadership, that resonates with people.
Employee generated content also takes really boring subjects and makes them exciting. What’s more exciting?
Taking simple, everyday tasks and putting a story behind them make these events more compelling.
The cool thing about EGC is that it has a ripple effect. Once one person starts to do it, then the next person starts to do it and the next person starts to do it. And that has an effect on culture. You really can't mandate culture, that's something that grows organically. So if you empower your staff with a voice through employee-generated content, you can then drive your company culture through employee-generated content as well.
A lot of businesses, whether they like it or not, have silos. Maybe you have multiple languages being spoken or different locations not communicating with each other. It can even happen in small companies that share one office space! If you're not effectively communicating, you are creating a problem. So breaking down silos from that point is important.
When you break down silos through EGC, you build three things:
It goes back to the human element, especially with regards to using video. When you see your coworkers sharing information, it's going to make you trust the people around you more. It's going to build camaraderie within the organization and get everybody linked together. And that’s how culture gets ingrained into your organization’s DNA.
Knowledge sharing has been directly connected to organizational performance and efficiency time and time again. So by definition, if you're getting more efficient, you’re in a better position to beat the competition.
So why isn’t everyone doing this?
For one thing, there is a perception that knowledge sharing is a time-consuming, intensive process. People are concerned that they’ll be overwhelmed by the volume of content that’s being produced. If it’s not created in a thoughtful and intentional way, it requires a lot of effort for little return and that frustrates everyone involved.
So, it goes back to your goals for knowledge sharing. What’s most important to you? Why undertake this journey? If your priority is talent acquisition, the content you produce will, of course, be very different from the content you’d produce for sales enablement.
Your goals will also determine the best distribution method for that knowledge sharing content. The reality is that most platforms exist to share knowledge in a top-down way, which certainly has its place but can also be very limiting.
Knowledge sharing is best done when it’s peer-to-peer and that’s where you’ll see the best results. Every company is set up for top-down communication from leadership to their staff, but those who have strong and steady peer-to-peer communication are empowering their employees to take a leadership role and directly engage with the success of their company.
Employees who do that are more likely to stick around. In a world where the average employee goes to a new company every 3-5 years, employee retention is a huge competitive advantage.
An enterprise knowledge-sharing platform is basically a tool that allows employees to share knowledge and information with other people in the company. It can exist in many different formats: video, text, images, etc. Materializing this knowledge and making it available to others is an incredibly powerful way to build a culture of engagement and set the organization up for future success.
This is especially true for enterprise organizations, which have a unique set of challenges. Often enterprise-level companies are dealing with multiple locations, massive departments, different languages being spoken, a multi-generational workforce, and different time zones. This can lead to silos, exclusive jargon, disruptive communication, and more.
With turnover rates being so high across all industries right now, especially among younger workers, it’s important for all businesses to retain the maximum amount of knowledge and information within the company.
The more specialized the industry or skillset is, the higher the need for knowledge-sharing. If someone is using technical skills like machinery or sophisticated tools and they’re the only person who knows how to use them, what happens when they leave? Ideally, all knowledge is shared and transferred within the organization, but place a priority in identifying the knowledge and skillsets that are the most specific or technical first.
Then create the channels for sharing that information. Sometimes it’s best to create different channels so each type of knowledge that’s being shared has a system designed specifically for its use and for the people who will be using it. People in IT might have a completely different skillset and preference of workflow from people in Sales, right?
The good thing is, you don’t need to create these channels from scratch. There are templates out there that make this whole process seamless and easy to use. And that’s important – if this whole thing stresses people out and creates more work for them, they won’t do it. Having an administrator or champion on your team who owns this process is a great idea so they can manage expectations and make sure everyone’s needs are being met.
To that point, think about the “old days” where you may have worked at a job that had an intranet system that was built with an IT-first, top-down mindset. It probably didn’t do much to foster an environment of engagement and collaboration, did it? Two-way communication is so critical to this whole process, otherwise, it’s going to be another just another initiative that employees simply didn’t find value in so they didn’t adopt it.
By now, most companies realize that their employees are their most important asset, not only because of their knowledge and expertise but because they each carry the DNA of their organization. When someone leaves, you’re not only losing a colleague or a friend, but the entire organization loses some of that knowledge and part of the company’s DNA.
That’s why companies who make knowledge sharing an integral part of their culture tend to thrive and succeed. Creating a platform wherein it’s easy for employees to share their expertise and learn from their peers will drive the business forward and help with employee retention.
You can also improve your organization’s employee engagement because knowledge sharing empowers employees to know that their voice and expertise are valued. This can inspire them to define new business models, improve customer experience, and evolve corporate culture in a positive way. When employees have all the information they need to optimize methods, tools, and techniques, and they have the freedom to question and to improve their work environment, some really cool things start to happen!
For example, a robust knowledge sharing strategy will help your organization solve problems faster because a diverse range of opinions can be considered. Important information can be communicated widely and quickly. It’ll also help you identify the future thought leaders among the team and who’s suited for a management position in the future.
Knowledge sharing also helps you identify mistakes more quickly and more accurately. Documenting your learning will help you avoid these mistakes in the future and help new employees learn from the mistakes of others.
Speaking of newcomers, knowledge sharing can make them feel welcome because they’ll have quick access to the information they need and context surrounding it that makes them understand it. We’ve all been the “new kid on the block” in our careers, and it’s not a good feeling when you feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up, is it?
In this model, all employees can quickly gain confidence, feel empowered, and reduce the skills in the talent pool so that one person leaving the company does leave a huge hole in your organization’s knowledge or expertise.
One of the challenges of creating an information-sharing culture, and where people typically hit resistance, is how much is too much information to share? Ideally, you want to push information that brings value to the company; no more, no less.
There is indeed a realistic, attainable happy medium to find between companies that minimize the sharing of information to avoid “noise” and those which value communication at the expense of being helpful and on-topic.
When you create a program that reconciles top-down communication with bottom-up expression, you’ll create a culture of transparency, alignment, credibility, and security.
When these things fall into place, you’ll be amazed at the collaboration that follows. Instead of the hierarchical communication that leads to silos and frustration. People will feel confident in what they know and feel empowered to share it with others.
And the best part is – this type of peer-to-peer communication is contagious. It breeds mimicry. Your employees will be learning new things, getting to know their colleagues better, and create greater respect for different departments from their own.
For more ideas, read our blog post: 4 Ways to Promote Information Sharing in Your Organization
Knowledge sharing, just like any new process or procedure, has to start at the top and the leadership team has to lead by example. If you want to create a new habit that’s going to shift culture, it's critical that employees see the leadership team living it and walking the talk.
However, the tricky thing is that knowledge sharing is most successful when it’s peer-to-peer, not top-down.
So, how do you balance that?
It’s really about the leadership team showing by example what needs to be done, but then stepping back and letting their employees run with it.
Most tech companies want to be disruptive. However, one of the challenges that comes with that is user adoption. When you create a new usage, people have to change their mindset or the way they work in order to assimilate into it. It’s not an easy thing to do – which is why you want to leverage the technology with which people are already comfortable.
For example, we know by now that people love the idea of using, creating, and watching videos but most people aren’t sure how to incorporate that into the workplace. If you create a video knowledge sharing platform, your user adoption will be much higher than asking them to write long-form text articles.
That’s an innate challenge that comes with knowledge sharing. You're selling a product that will change the way you work, but sometimes you don't want to change the way you work in order to do it. However, in times like these with the quarantine crisis, it’s forcing companies and their employees to adapt more quickly to the new reality. The way in which we communicate within organizations is decisively different from the way it was just a few months ago.
Still, people can’t totally change the way they work overnight and you’re going to meet some resistance. They’re going to ask you things like, “Where do we start? What’s the use case? How long should it take? What kind of information should I share? What if nobody finds value in my shared content?”
And that’s okay.
The key to getting user adoption and stickiness with knowledge sharing is to be consistent in your approach, have the managers lead by example, find some champions and fast learners that will encourage their peers, and consider gamification or a reward system. Stick to that, and soon knowledge sharing will become second nature to the way your organization operates.
Let’s start with a scenario: a company hires a new employee and flies them into the corporate HQ for a couple of weeks of orientation and onboarding. As they develop, they learn new skills and processes through a training session here and a seminar there. Maybe a few times a year the company brings them in for an all-hands sales conference.
It sounds familiar, right? We’ve all seen companies operate like this. However, there are two major issues with this type of operation:
Think about it. The company is paying for travel, training, event spaces, marketing activation, the list goes on and on.
Studies show that people forget more than 70% of what was on Day 1 of training after 75% after 6 days of training. So, they’re probably leaving training having confidently learned 10% of what they were being taught.
So that's a lot of how training and enterprise knowledge-sharing happened in the past and in the slower-to-adapt organizations of today. However, companies are recognizing that the costs of travel are not sustainable and they need to find a way to manage stuff like this more virtually, while still engaging employees.
Similarly, feedback from employees is driving companies to think about ways that make the content more relevant and come out faster. Because if you're waiting for twice a year to get trained on something, you're missing things all throughout the year. Employees want to learn new things as long as it’s presented to them in a way that’s retainable and makes them feel confident in what they’re being taught.
Another challenge that organizations are shifting away from is the idea that the same handful of people are the only ones presenting on all of these different topics. When this happens, people aren’t really seeing the diversity and different perspectives from people all across the company. They’re only getting the voice of a small few. All employees have relevant insight to share, wouldn't it be great to hear from those in the role on what helps them be most successful?
With turnover rates being higher than they have ever been, companies have learned that their cost per employee for training is too high from the value they're getting back from the employee if that employee only stays for a year or two.
This is especially true when more employees are starting to work virtually. These days, people that are coming into an organization learn in a very different way than how they did ten years ago. Companies that adapt their training methods to make it most receptive to people that are learning are the ones who will retain their employees and ultimately, succeed.
The other thing to consider is that people’s attention spans are shorter than they have ever been. In their personal lives, they can get answers immediately on smartphones, play any music with a verbal command, and have food delivered to their doorstep with the push of a button. They expect business information to be delivered to them with the same speed and brevity.
That’s what makes enterprise knowledge-sharing so powerful. Everybody has something valuable to say and when you put the right technology in their hands, they’ll become storytellers that are going to help others grow and learn.
In recent years, we’ve seen a transformation of how organizations leverage human resources, and this has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As processes get more automated, employees become more specialized in the knowledge and expertise they bring to the company.
What the best companies are doing is bringing that individual knowledge to the broader organization, especially as employee qualification levels and turnover are increasing across most industries.
The main objective of developing a knowledge sharing culture is to collect the knowledge, wisdom, and experience of your team and formalize a process for making it available to everyone else in your organization.
This type of unilateral communication can do amazing things for getting your employees to actually pay attention to what’s being said, internalize it, and apply it to their daily operation.
When knowledge isn’t shared at all across an organization, you start seeing silos appear.
When knowledge is only shared by leaders in a top-down approach, people might not take it to heart.
However, when information is shared by their peers and colleagues, it has much more authenticity, credibility, and relevancy. It’s more practical and easier to relate to, which makes employees of an organization connect with what’s being shared and maybe even feel empowered to do the same.
When employees have the will and means to share relevant knowledge to their peers on a daily basis, they’re going to uncover all new solutions to their problems to which they never before had visibility.
From that point on, whenever they find a solution to a problem others may have, whenever their project is of interest to others, whenever their knowledge is valuable to others in the organization, they’ll instinctually formalize and share that knowledge.
To that point, your knowledge sharing platform has to be set up in a concrete and practical way that employees can follow and integrate with their daily work schedules. If it is cumbersome to navigate or takes a lot of time, people will get frustrated or see it as a nuisance.
When it’s set up simply and seamlessly, however, things will start to fall into place. Not only will they not push back on the idea of knowledge sharing, they’ll actually perceive it as a valuable use of their time and make time to do it on a regular basis.
Knowledge and experience are some of a company’s most valuable assets, yet they hardly ever get treated as such. When it’s held close to each employee and not shared within the rest of the organization, knowledge is not even close to living up to the potential of what it could bring to the success of your business.
There is a wealth of tools that can help you build and maintain a thriving ecosystem of knowledge sharing. They can all do different things, so you need to determine which method or combination of methods works best for you. The main variables to consider are asynchronous vs. real-time sharing, static content vs. conversations, and top-down vs. bottom-up communication.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re already using many different knowledge-sharing tools in your company, including:
And of course, the most underutilized form of communication within an organization: video.
Meetings are the most common and perhaps the most important knowledge-sharing tool. However, they can be a big-time waster if they are not well-organized, kept as short as possible, and respectful of everyone’s time. We’ve all seen the mugs that say, “I survived another meeting that could have been an email,” right?
That’s what makes asynchronous tools of communication, like video, so powerful. Instead of interrupting everyone’s day for 30 minutes or an hour, you can enable your team members to engage with the conversation on their own time without putting a halt to their productivity.
Like most tools and processes, setting up a knowledge-sharing platform can sometimes require a lot of effort upfront. It can also create a lot of “noise” because it’s changing everyone’s habits and most people are reluctant to change.
Therefore, the implementation plan should be really clear and led by one dedicated owner. It could even require a full-time implementation team. Also, the adoption strategy should be clearly defined and shared with everyone.
Be prepared, set up is almost always more difficult than expected. So always start simple and build a step-by-step strategy in order to get feedback. Then iterate based on the feedback.
It’s been well established that most employees want to work for a company because of its culture. On the flip side, culture is also the main reason that people leave companies.
For those reasons, culture is one of the most important things for a company to promote with video to share their employees’ experiences. Engaging your existing employees is a super-impactful way to create and share culture across your company. It's a great way for employees to talk about what they love the most about their company and remind them why they're there.
But first, what is culture? It’s not something a top leader or executive can say, “This is what we're doing and this is our culture.” To us, culture is something that every employee brings with them to work every day by choice. Every person at the company, from top to bottom, has to drive culture and a great way to do that is for people to talk about what it means to them. That actually helps them get it to resonate a little bit more with themselves and then they can communicate it.
It’s also a wonderful way to recruit the right talent for your organization. If people are able to see other people's reasons for being there and why their culture works so well, you're going to have a lot of people that want to work for a company with a great culture because they can actually visualize themselves being at that company.
Video is such a powerful tool that simply no other medium can match. You can't see excitement, energy, or passion through text. It doesn't matter how many exclamation points you have. It's not going to be the same as somebody like standing there in front of you on camera saying, “I love working here, and here’s why.”
This is especially true when people are working from home, as we’ve seen in the wake of the recent events. It creates a different level of connection for people because employees get to see each other’s home life now, including their children, their pets, their families in their office, kitchen, and dining rooms.
That kind of thing is actually creating a deeper connection with people that didn’t exist before and that nobody could have predicted.
Think about the last corporate video you saw. What did it look like? How many employees were featured? Who were they?
We’ve all seen highly-produced videos that are totally “filtered” – often only featuring hand-picked employees to highlight and who may have been given a script of what to say. It’s a nice looking video, but it can be totally inauthentic.
Structured storytelling is absolutely the right way to go, because when you overproduce a video, you’re taking away people’s ability to be honest, authentic, and completely themselves, which is where you’ll see the passion and excitement. And those are the things that viewers most resonate with!
Ready to take your video content to the next level? Download our guide, 100+ Prompts to Drive Knowledge Sharing through Video, to get 100+ ideas, questions, and prompts to help your team deliver important, authentic, and amazing content that drives your business forward!