Knowledge Sharing - Grow a Business From Within13 Apr 2016
There is a number of things that can be done to make a company grow and thrive, some involving external forces, some working from within. Arguably, the best way to go about it from within is facilitating team growth and team members' skill evolution. After all, a company can only be as successful as the people making it.
What are the easy things managers and teams can do to grow together?
Culture of Knowledge Sharing
In greatly complex organizations this seems to be a real problem, relating to the knowledge hoarding trend, based in belief that "for as long as I'm the only one who knows how to so this, my job is secure". Although this works in short-term, both for that individual and the company, it's wrong in its core and leads to a halt in individual and company development. Main reason being - this definitely pauses innovation, without which today's organizations are simply endangered.
Unless team members know what others are doing, they cannot support each other, cooperate nor find common ground between their work planes. Knowing what the others are working on also delivers a better chance at building great things - departmental views of products are different for a reason, and this is best utilized to show different angles to specific teams. While some issues are valid across all angles, others need detailed presentation to teams not involved in a particular aspect of the product – all for the greater good.
Make knowledge and data sharing technically possible and easy for people to feel like making an effort. It's been studied that cultivating habits of sharing helps not only with company success, but with general individual capacity growth as well.
This knowledge sharing includes what the management chooses to share with teams, actually. The larger number of people work together, the more rumours and unconfirmed information will float - it's a great strategy to manage them, before panic and fear sneak in. It's usually better to confirm bad news, rather than leave it in the lurking zone of the unknown – the last thing any company needs is people fearing for their jobs on a daily basis or plotting against one another.
Department Stories Made Public
Both individual achievements and ways in which results of your work have made an impact outside should be known to all involved with this product. Also, both success and failure stories should be welcome, with emphasis on failure, as these usually offer more insight into what can be done better in the future. These are easiest to manage in weekly retro meetings - with a quick summary of things that went well and efforts that led to failure.
As a follow up on this, it's a great policy to ask the teams for feedback and actually act on it. Although the team is there for the company, it's clear that without teams there are no companies. In other words, their opinion does matter.
Meet Informally to Get Closer
Oldest trick in the book you say? Sure, but it can work - it's easier and more natural to stay open and collaborative with a team of people that you know and - possibly - care for. Even a simple thing as a quick working lunch helps to bring people closer in a less corporately restricted way.
While informally involved - try thinking together in an "outside the box" capacity. Fantasy and craziness, typically making a presence during informal meets can show new angles of approaching old problems or inspire new ideas to work an old work goal with. Yes, the more fun a meeting, the less real these ideas will get, still – chances of coming up with something of value are high.
Aside for these somewhat subtle ways of getting to work together in a better way, there is also the standard, outright way to get there - enrolling teams in teamwork workshops or funding specific courses to make specific people develop a particular skill. Subtle or not, this is what many a valuable employee is really looking for, and the benefits will be valid for both them and the company.
Whichever way you'd like to go, do keep in mind, that without a flexible, cooperative team, your business will just not move forward. Pay attention to the knowledge flow and team culture that is present. It's often of more impact on the teams than their actual pay!