Starting from the late 90’s, enterprises started to talk about “Knowledge Management (KM)” as they have figured out that without proper KM strategies, it will cause problem and inefficiency in the organization. For example, loss of important information when there is someone leaving the company or it takes a long time to retrieve certain piece of data from a large pile of files. Therefore, internal KM budgets increased by folds in recent years. It is expected that spending for KM products will reach $10 billion by 2004. (Greg Dyer, International Data Corp.)
Although many companies aware of the importance of KM, they faced a big problem when they are implementing KM in their workplace: not all staffs are willing to share the knowledge or information they obtained. Therefore, motivation or incentive scheme becomes a hot topic in KM strategies. The following passage will talk about how to enhance the willingness for staff to share knowledge.
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First of all, when we talk about incentive scheme, it is certain that monetary reward for the staff sharing useful and important knowledge or information will definitely be one of the best and most welcoming practice, especially in times of the economic downturn. This is because people will prefer keeping money in their pocket rather than any other forms of rewards. This universal principle will always work.
At the same time, the above reward can be transformed into some other ways like granting extra holidays to the staff providing outstanding knowledge for the company. Or giving a free tour for the staff, if possible with his/her family members to some leisure places like Thailand, Hawaii, etc. These alternative forms of reward are having the same effect as money and they will be more welcomed by staff who do not want everything to be calculated in money.
However, not every staff in a company is solely looking for money. Some of them are seeking some other forms of rewards. Some of them may hope themselves to be well known by others within the organization. In other words, they want to be “famous”. To deal with this type of staff we should located them out (Expert Locating) after they have shared information and let the company know who they are. With such kind of identity, these rich-in-knowledge staff will be willing to further share their ideas with others that will be the most beneficial to the corporation.
The above are some superficial suggestions for companies to promote knowledge sharing within the organization. However, when we want to look deeper into this area, we have to first think about why people are not willing to share their knowledge.
Statistics have shown that most staffs claim they are willing to share their knowledge but do not have time to do so. (Harris Research Center) In order to solve this problem, some kind of workshops or seminars that allow staff to have time put down their work in hand, and listen to others’ information while also telling others their own. This type of seminars must be led by some well-experienced convener who can lead the discussion among staff to a fruitful outcome.
This type of workshops is also having some other benefits. For example, some staff may be having excellent practice in dealing with some kind of job but they don’t know how to tell others, or they even don’t know their way is the best one. The convener in these functions will then be able to help them to speak out their way or let them understand they are the best performers
While you are promoting knowledge sharing in the company, commitment from the management level must be shown in order to encourage staff to join the discussion. The above suggestions (reward scheme, discussion seminars, etc.) can help in achieve this. However, participation of the management themselves in the scheme and utilization of the suggestions is more important.
Without the participation of management themselves, staff will just consider the program to be just a show which is useless, then no one will be interested in sharing their ideas. And the most important is that the suggestion with excellent quality should be used as this can really enhance the efficiency of the company, and let the staffs know they can really help the company while the company is considering them as valuable assets.
Also promoting a culture or atmosphere that sharing of knowledge is very important as peer pressure will also be the most influential force for people. However, this is not an easy task, as not all people are self-initiated to share their knowledge.
One way to assist the growth of this culture is creating a post of “Knowledge Manager/Officer” who is mainly responsible in managing the shared information from the staff, try to keep them in the best quality that they should be.
His/her presence can encourage people to sound out their views as there is always someone scan through their words before it is announced. People will feel more secure as the chance of being rejected or laughed at by the majority of colleagues in the company is minimized. At the same time, he/she can keep the standard of information to be shared at a high, or at least at an acceptable level.
There are also some minor points like using the term “Knowledge Management” directly in the company will be worse than using other terms like “Leveraging Know-how” as KM is a term that people not like very well. (Texaco, N.Y.) And using other terms can connect people in the business more easily.
To conclude, KM is definitely an important issue in management of any kind or any size of companies. We must note that once it is decided to implement this strategy, we have to carry it on and never give it up too easily. It may not pay, or the benefits cannot be noted in the early stages. However, it is for sure that it will finally let you gain more than you invest in future.
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