Dave Conrad: A knowledge-sharing culture is essential

Dear Dave: At my company, you will never get people to share the knowledge they have with their co-workers. Everyone keeps their "intellectual property" to themselves. I know we could make so much more progress if people started sharing their knowledge with each other — instead of being knowledge misers. Your thoughts? — R

Dear R: I think anyone who hoards information at their place of work — and does not share it with those who can benefit from it — are guilty of a gross infraction. Good companies encourage their staff to realize "knowledge is king" and to unselfishly disseminate it in the right ways to the right people at the right times.

Organizations are more productive and effective when knowledge sharing is encouraged. Statistics show the best-producing companies are those that provide their employees with the right knowledge and allow knowledge to circulate freely and appropriately within the organization. I believe leaders in organizations should make it a mission to ensure knowledge sharing is deliberately and unselfishly practiced.

I think it is essential to create a "knowledge-sharing culture" as part of the overall organization strategy. You cannot plan without doing research and I believe there always smart are people in various places within a company who have valuable knowledge that will benefit both the planning and implementation of sound strategies. The trick is to draw them out and have them share what they know.

Only effective collaboration and communication — which spans across the whole company — will give knowledge management the emphasis and impact it deserves. I always tell my business students the individuals that rise in an organization are not those who hoard information, but rather, those who openly and freely share their knowledge and expertise with their colleagues.


Creating a knowledge sharing culture

Organizations need data and information to make sound decisions, solve nagging problems and exploit growth opportunities. This requires a culture that "deals by the truth" and a culture that does not guess or assume everyone has all the information needed to make the right choices — they investigate things and share their findings.

To create a knowledge-sharing culture, managers need to encourage people to work together more effectively, to collaborate and to share their knowledge and expertise and to gather and store useful information and feedback as they do their work. To do this, managers can try the following:

Model knowledge sharing:This first step is to practice knowledge sharing at your level. If you preach the value of sharing knowledge, you must live the philosophy all day and every day. When your workers come to you looking for information, don't act like you are giving away the keys to paradise — tell them what they need to know.

Incorporate knowledge-sharing technology:Train and educate people in its effective use. Nothing beats the combination of people with the appropriate knowledge-sharing mindset and the appropriate knowledge-sharing technology to support them. This pairing will rapidly bring about a knowledge-sharing culture that helps you better meet your business objectives.

Motivate knowledge sharing:Help people see for themselves that knowledge sharing is in their best personal interest. If people understand that sharing their knowledge helps them do their jobs more effectively, helps them retain their jobs and helps them in their personal development and career progression, then knowledge sharing will become a reality.

Reward knowledge sharing:What gets rewarded, gets repeated. Catch people sharing their knowledge and expertise and recognize them for doing so. Make knowledge sharing part of your employee appraisal process and then pay people for their performance.

In summary, to get most things done in an organization today requires a collaborative effort. If we try to work alone, we will not be as successful as we would be engaging and collaborating with others.


We need to make knowledge sharing a part of the work culture and an emphasis item when new people start in the company.

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