Group of adults learners working together

Employees are discovering so much every day in every company. As the 70-20-10 model reveals, 70% of learning happens experientially on the job. When education occurs outside of a formal setting, it can take effort to broadly share the insights, so the information doesn’t always extend beyond the person involved, let alone their team. 

Imagine the possibilities that can be unleashed when Learning & Development (L&D) teams create mechanisms to encourage knowledge sharing. 

The Impact on the Workplace Environment 

In a company where knowledge sharing is a common practice, employees are quick to talk about wins and losses. They iterate and experiment, knowing that whatever they find out will be valuable even if it hasn’t yet turned out the way they hoped. They talk or post about their a-ha moments and updates from their departments.  

Questions are seen as opportunities for inquiry and refinement, and openness encourages teams to regularly seek new perspectives. While groups encourage each other to think differently, the culture is not overly competitive. It’s a driven environment where staff appreciate learning from each other and are committed to constantly improving. 

The Impact to Staff 

Knowledge sharing boosts skill-building across the organization. Individuals uncover best practices, increase technical understanding and gain new insights. It also limits the “brain drain” that commonly occurs when a person leaves a business or transitions to a different role. 

Those with a Structural preference are likely to appreciate how this behavior supports better process improvements, while people who prefer Conceptual thinking are likely to value how the exchange of new ideas sparks further experimentation. 

Creating a space where people can express their knowledge is empowering. Employees often appreciate being recognized as experts, especially those with an Analytical preference. Establishing platforms where they can describe their findings and insights fuels engagement and a sense of accomplishment.  

Those with a Social preference are likely to appreciate being of service to their colleagues and get energy from helping others. Designing a workplace community where staff can learn from one another further enhances connection among colleagues who may never work in the same team, same office or even the same country! 

How To: Grow a Knowledge-Sharing Culture 

#1 – Assess Workplace Dynamics 

Usually, it’s not difficult to get people to offer their expertise when things are going well. When challenges arise, people may clam up if their leaders and peers have not created a safe space to make mistakes.   

Consider the psychological safety of the organization. Do employees regularly talk about errors or struggles they’re experiencing? Do they ask one another for help when obstacles present themselves? Do leaders celebrate the discoveries that come from both successes and failures? 

If the answers to the questions above were mostly “no” or “sort of,” then I recommend first investing energy into establishing greater trust and psychological safety within the company. Using tools like Emergenetics® can support in this process, and I invite you to download our guide for more ideas to amplify confidence in your workplace.  

HIgh-Trust Organization Guidebook

 #2 – Build Supporting Systems 

While information sharing often happens organically in conversation, L&D leaders can use internal systems or integrate new ones to make learning more accessible across large organizations and in hybrid or multi-site work environments. 

Invest in digital communities that provide content libraries, encourage conversation and have easy searchability. These systems could be built into a Learning Management System or facilitated through chat forums like Teams or Slack.  

In addition to online tools that often support first-third Expressive colleagues and those in need of just-in-time education, create space for face-to-face conversations. This practice honors third-third Expressive teammates who often process information more effectively when they can talk through their experiences and questions. Make time for employees in the learning communities to meet to stimulate organic conversation. Just be sure to document the takeaways, so more people can benefit from the discussion. 

#3 – Identify Testing Opportunities 

As L&D leaders get started, it’s valuable to pilot a few different approaches to knowledge sharing to see what will work best in their workplace. Some considerations include: 

  • Format: should forums be in-person, virtual or hybrid 
  • Topics: what themes and skills should be explored 
  • Facilitation: are the communities best supported by a moderator or an open forum 

Once L&D has decided on an option or two to experiment with, identify one goal for the community and a timeframe for testing. Be sure to also get feedback from participants. These discoveries can help L&D teams identify what to be firm and focused (or first-third Flexible) on and what can be more open to interpretation (or third-third Flexible). 

#4 – Make It Easy to Contribute 

The (often) third-third Assertive pace of the workday can make it challenging for staff to pause and think about how they could pass along learnings, so it’s important to make it as easy as possible for employees to contribute their insights. 

Teaching staff to utilize any systems that are being introduced is an essential first step. To build on the training, provide a digital storage system to simplify the exchange of information. The repository could include a library of templates, including slide decks, case studies or guides, that individuals can download and update with their newfound knowledge. 

Work with management to ensure employees have time to dedicate to professional growth. Set expectations for how many hours staff can engage in development and participate in their communities. By encouraging personnel to slow down and make time for development, they are empowered to drive their growth. 

#5 – Reward Participants 

Be sure to celebrate successes along the way. When employees see that they and their peers are being recognized for contributing to the knowledge-sharing communities, they will be more likely to engage in them.  

Consider big and small ways to acknowledge staff. Celebrations can include shoutouts in team meetings or online forums. L&D teams can also build in rewards or gamify their online platforms to recognize active participants. 

Also, partner with team or department leaders to identify opportunities for public recognition that meet the needs of their individual contributors. Financial gifts as well as incentives like paid time off or additional professional development dollars can encourage employees to be champions of knowledge sharing. 

Employees hold a wealth of expertise inside their minds. By creating learning communities and offering encouragement, L&D teams can energize the workforce to benefit from their collective knowledge and grow as professionals. 

Looking for opportunities to strengthen your Learning & Development programs? Visit our website or fill out the form below to discover how Emergenetics can support your talent development teams! 


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