Knowledge sharing within any business is vital for growth but sometimes smaller businesses struggle to facilitate it as staff are typically managing more than one role and/or are spread across various locations so the time for dissemination and brain storming with others is often not possible. This can create knowledge silos within the business and over-reliance on a few individuals, thus increasing business risk. Ultimately, this will restrict growth if the business is limited to the capacity of key individuals and more worryingly, it can cause significant business disruption, when said individuals are absent. Therefore, SMEs and startups need to recognise what Big Business are well aware of, that investing some time if not money in knowledge sharing should be a priority from the outset to facilitate delegation and sustainable growth. Here’s ideas of how you can address this from today within your own business:
- Schedule regular mandatory catch ups for all staff
One of the cheapest ways to disseminate information is the old fashioned team meeting. This could be a town hall session once a week in the office or a morning call where everyone is encouraged to participate. There are no real ‘rules’ except that they should be kept short and succinct as the main objective is to maximise relevance and attendance; and prepare an agenda and keep to it! I find a focus on current projects useful but always with a slot for strategy/business development as you may be surprised who comes up with the next big idea.2. Implement a cloud based knowledge solution
Team meetings are however, time consuming and sometimes impractical. According to a March 2012 survey by Salary.com, 47 percent of workers say their biggest waste of time at work is attending too many meetings”1. The least disruptive and most cost effective solution therefore is by creating a centralised knowledge base, whether it be an intranet, Customer Relationship Management tool or another centralised database which will capture, archive and tag the data as its created. If it’s a cloud based system, such as cnx.cloud, staff can update on the go while grabbing a coffee or in a cab via a private social media platform, known as ‘Grapevine’. This increases the speed with which information is captured and disseminated as it can be shared immediately and should increase participation compared to face-to-face meetings as employees can fit it into suitable gaps in their day. Finally, by using a centralised database, all data is stored, archived and fully searchable rather than jotted down in everyone’s workbooks. This provides a rich company specific knowledge database for future transactions, client pitches, marketing, attracting staff and the list goes on.
The final recommendation is to make knowledge sharing a priority from the top. The culture and ethos of your business is set by you, the owner and/or management team. Therefore, if you want your team to take knowledge sharing seriously then you need to do so too.