When you get to the heart of knowledge sharing, it’s all about behavior (we call the behavior the four moments of knowledge sharing). How do we integrate knowledge sharing into what we do every day. Do we look for, enhance, reuse or supply knowledge? To get our teams to embrace knowledge-sharing behaviors, we need to look at them through the lens of motivation, ability and triggers (the post Why can’t we motivate our team to share knowledge can give you the background you need!).

The first thing we need to get the team to embrace knowledge-sharing behaviors is motivation. Too often, we think of motivation as something external to us. One of my favorite television shows is the US comedy The Big Bang Theory. The funniest scene yet shows physicist Sheldon using chocolates to change waitress Penny’s behavior. Each time Penny does what Sheldon wants, he feeds her a chocolate, to a ridiculous conclusion. Stimulus/Response. Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Motivating a team isn’t about giving them chocolates. Above all, motivation is about making sense. Do I understand why I should share my knowledge and reuse the knowledge of the rest of the team? If knowledge sharing doesn’t make sense to me, I won’t change my behavior. Helping the team make sense of knowledge-sharing behaviors requires a lot of effort. To be effective, you will need to

  1. Understand and document the “what’s in it for me.” What are the benefits of sharing knowledge for team members? Ideally, you should be able to tell the story of the benefits for team members, the entire organization and your customers.
  2. Provide training to the team that shows both why they should share knowledge and how to do it.
  3. Document the way that the team does its work and when team members find, reuse and share knowledge.
  4. Understand whether your current measures will support knowledge-sharing behaviors or undermine them. Eliminate any measures that don’t support knowledge sharing.
  5. Look at rewards and recognition systems to reinforce the value of the behaviors to the team. Use techniques like gamification to highlight successful knowledge sharers.
  6. MOST IMPORTANT. Communicate consistently the importance of knowledge sharing to the team. Use videos, emails, town hall meetings and brown-bag lunches to talk about why knowledge-sharing behaviors will make the team more successful. Use these opportunities to get feedback on whether knowledge sharing makes sense to the team.

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