7 Reasons Knowledge Sharing Is Important (+ Tips On Doing Them Well)

August 21, 2020
June 26, 2023
Knowledge Sharing

Ready for a harsh truth? Your business can’t afford to re-learn the things it already knew.

The world is changing too fast. And the skills we need shift just as quickly.

That’s why knowledge sharing HAS to be happening every day.

When people know how things should be done in our business, they have to share it.

And it’s our job - as a business - to capture and organise it, so others can find it.

That is knowledge sharing 101. Because if they don’t, we repeat mistakes, overlook proven tactics, and lose that knowledge when someone exits the business.

This article gives you 7 key reasons why knowledge sharing matters, with advice on how you can do it in practice.

Jump to:

  1. Collaborate and build collective knowledge
  2. Find better ways of doing things
  3. Build a community and learning culture
  4. Create better customer experiences
  5. Retain knowledge
  6. Connect remote employees to knowledge
  7. The feel-good factor

Knowledge vs information

What’s the difference?

It’s important to clarify this before we dive into the benefits of knowledge sharing.

Information is really just the data or details of something, but knowledge taps into the experience and context of somebody who’s understood and used that data.

Imagine you’re making a cocktail and you’ve got the ingredient list in front of you, you’d be able to attempt some shaking and pouring. But, without a recipe or guidance from somebody who’s trialled, errored and perfected, you wouldn’t know the order, the timings and the techniques needed.

Knowledge sharing makes sure your employees are less shaken, more stirred and ready to win in the day-to-day workflow.

1. Collaborate and build collective knowledge

You should never underestimate the importance of collaboration, but if you’re having doubts, Go Remotely compiled a fascinating list of statistics on this.

75% of employees think it’s important and that workers now spend around 50% of their time collaborating.

However collaboration exists outside the very simple concept of physically coming together to work on a project - especially in dispersed teams and a world where we’re working asynchronously.

Knowledge sharing is collaborative at its core. You know something that’s built on a solid foundation, and you share that with me so that I benefit from your experience.

Now we’re building a foundation of collective knowledge together!

Tip: How to build collective knowledge 

People can’t learn from what they can’t find! And this is one of the biggest problems in most companies.

Whether it’s siloed systems or employees storing knowledge in personal drives, friction exists for a lot of employees.

And that is one of the quickest fixes you can make today! Find a way to centralise resources so that all your knowledge sharing funnels into a single place.

Now people can find what they need when they need it, and potentially build on the knowledge someone else shared.

In HowNow, we do this by opening up Discussions on content - so that people can add comments - and by allowing companies to add Collaborators to their content.

The goal is to build a collective brain in our knowledge sharing platform, and that can only really happen when we’re bringing everything and everyone together in one place.

2. Find better ways of doing things, together

One of the best things about building that shared knowledge is that you can learn from your mistakes and make sure you don’t repeat them. 

And tap into your best experiences to make sure you do repeat them! It’s pretty much as simple as that. 

Someone in your team could save someone from making their mistakes. 

A hero could emerge with a best practice that drives someone else’s performance.

On an individual level, knowledge sharing can be a real mood booster - whether you’re helping someone or someone is helping you.

But let’s get down to the business of what this means on a business level.

You are increasing the chances of high-performance. Driving up the likelihood of reaching your goal. Stacking the odds in the favour of getting things right first time.

The question is, how do we ensure we’re doing this more often than not?

Tip: Work with the people closest to the problems

Let’s make this clear, the goal of knowledge sharing isn’t for everyone to be shouting about their thoughts on a challenge or project.

That means more noise and less clarity.

We want the people with a strong understanding of a problem to have an input.

So, the tip is to bring in the person closest to the problem OR the person with proven experience.

Your employee performance data works well in these situations. Because you can look at high-performers in a particular area or the people with the most experience in doing this.

And if you want a good example of this, just look at how Netflix tackle decision-making.

They use an informed captain. Someone close to the problem who can consult others but is ultimately responsible for the final decision. 

This is knowledge sharing done right! The best person for a decision is leveraging their expertise and driving us towards the best outcome.

3. It can build a community and learning culture

Culture of learning, learning community - the holy grail of L&D and HR.

If we had a pound for every time we heard that, we wouldn’t be writing this blog post.

The thing about culture and community is that they’re built by everyday actions. We don’t decide what they are and tell everyone, they grow from our collective behaviour.

And that’s why the habit of knowledge sharing can help us build both.

If we’re sharing what we know with people every day, there’s a natural culture of learning.

Whether we’re jumping on a call together, Slacking advice or sharing a podcast that all fosters a feeling where we’re learning internally as our first port of call.

When that advice helps me do my job better or build a new skill, knowledge sharing has created a positive sentiment to someone else in the business.

And those little moments add up to create a larger feeling of community.

Tip: Tell those stories where knowledge sharing has had a positive impact

You can amplify those good feelings! 

If someone sharing knowledge has improved someone else’s performance or helped them grow, that’s a massive win-win.

And while they’ll both get a warm fuzzy feeling when it happens, you can spread their story far and wide.

Now they’ve got the recognition they deserve and others have seen the success that knowledge sharing can bring.

Free Guide! Become a knowledge-sharing organisation in 5 simple steps

4. Create better customer experiences

We often hear that L&D teams want to drive more impact.

And one way of doing that is to work back from the customer experience and their interactions with the product or service.

What does success look like? If we know that, we can deliver relevant resources and knowledge that enable people to deliver it.

Who is delivering that elite customer experience already? Those are people with absolutely golden advice to share with others.

Customer-facing employees are the ones most damaged by friction in finding knowledge.

By the nature of their job, they’re often reacting to solve an issue or being proactive to add value, but both are time sensitive.

Not only can they not afford delays in finding what they need, they truly benefit from advice and guidance related to the context of your business.

Knowledge sharing achieves this for all the reasons we’ve already mentioned.

Tip: Search for common problems, consolidate your best knowledge

If you’re early in your knowledge sharing journey, this is a great first step.

If you’re not, it’s a useful exercise to see if you missed anything important.

There will be common problems in your business that don’t currently have consistent or clear guidance when it comes to solving them.

Solving that problem - especially when it comes to customer-related issues - will not only have a huge impact on their experiences, it builds positive feelings towards the idea of knowledge sharing.

Whether it’s cutting down the time to respond to using better message when we do, your employees and customers will thank you for it.

5. Retain knowledge, perform better

Sometimes even our best employees decide to fly the nest.

It never gets any easier to see them go, but knowledge sharing can make it easier to prepare for life without them.

In fact, if we’re doing that proactively and capturing that knowledge, it ensures they don’t head off with all that expertise and experience locked away in their heads.

This is one of the biggest challenges across businesses big and small - siloed knowledge. The idea that only one or a handful of people know how to do something but it’s not documented or captured anywhere.

Before we get into any advice, we have to understand the scale at which knowledge gets lost every day, week, month and year.

If you don’t have a robust process for knowledge sharing and capturing, think about the sheer volume of great stuff that gets lost.

Tip: Capture answers to repeat questions

If a question gets asked more than once, then we have to capture the answer to it.

This is a simple rule of thumb but - like the last tip - it helps you tackle questions likely to have the most impact.

This is how Gymshark built a culture of knowledge sharing and capturing:

Not only are we tackling the repeat obstacles, we’re making knowledge capture a habit.

And now that people have faith that it’s being captured, they’re more likely to search before they ask. Which fundamentally improves our speed to find relevant information, solve problems and much more.

6. Connect remote employees to knowledge

More than half of employees
(56%) have been unable to find digital documents while working remotely.

Working remotely can be challenging for a lot of reasons, but finding information and collaborating with colleagues are high up on that list.

There are also those concerns that you’re sending too much messages and asking too many questions - which might hold you back from asking for what you need.

Not to mention the timezone and flexible working challenges that make knowledge sharing that little bit more difficult.

But if you’re sharing knowledge, capturing it and centralising it in one place, people are able to search before they ask and they’re more likely to find what they need.

In a world where it’s easy to feel like a second-class employee when you’re working remotely, knowledge sharing improves some of the key challenges and barriers.

Tip: Make it easier to work asynchronously

And we’re talking as simple as collaborating in a shared doc here! Whatever works in terms of removing friction and allowing people to work together.

This is really a case of being intentional about the culture of your company and where there are currently challenges in collaborating with remote employees.

Meetings are a great example, are we using them in the best way to share knowledge.

Let’s say we’re discussing a new marketing campaign or sales strategy - do we have to present it on a call and then discuss…

Or could we share the plans ahead of time, allow people to compile their thoughts and share them, and then get back on a call to refine and confirm the next steps?

The latter definitely feels like a better use of everyone’s time.

7. The feel-good factor

We’ve discussed the morale-boosting benefits of knowledge sharing a few times already, but it’s worth reiterating the point.

People want to be heard! They want their opinion to matter, regardless of where they sit in the organisation’s hierarchy.

Knowledge sharing helps flatten it and give everyone a voice.

Now we’re saying that we’re listening to the people who are an expert in a particular thing, and giving them a platform to share that expertise with others.

Rather than saying those at the top know best!

And a benefit of this is that we’re creating more relevant and applicable content, rather than deciding what’s best for an employee’s L&D.

Tip: Include everyone! It’ll make them feel valued

Every month at HowNow, we host KnowHow sessions -  a chance for anyone in the company to share what they’re interested in, knowledgeable on or simply passionate about.

Not only are these great knowledge sharing sessions, they give every presenter a voice and every colleague a chance to know them better.

Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to work out how you replicate that feeling in your company.

How do you provide a platform for everyone to share their knowledge and feel valued?

Benefits of knowledge management

Knowledge management is really the difference between sharing great knowledge that people can find and finding that knowledge becoming a barrier to progress! How we organise and manage knowledge determines whether or not it’s easy to search for in the moments where people need it most.

At HowNow, this means using our platform as a central brain for all of our knowledge and resources! Typically knowledge ends up scattered across the company intranet, shared drives, people’s personal laptop storage, sticky notes in a draw and everywhere else you can imagine. We create one front door for all learning and give everyone a key that they’re welcome to use at all hours of the day!

We know you’re itching to go and reap the rewards of sharing that wisdom, so we’ll wrap it up with some of the key benefits of effective knowledge management.

  • Put an end to scattered knowledge by bringing all resources into place.
  • Allow people to easily search for and find the knowledge they need, when they need it.
  • Which boosts productivity and cuts down on repeat mistakes.
  • Update and enrich resources with additional updates and information.
  • Empower people to make better decisions faster.
  • Refine and improve business processes through shared input.
  • Communicate important information quickly and ensure you reach everyone!
  • Promote consistent and repeatable practices that employees can easily follow.

Could our integrated learning platform be the answer to your knowledge sharing management questions? Book a demo today and we’ll talk you through it.

Check out our other knowledge sharing resources