The value of knowledge-sharing

by Brett Henebery27 Feb 2017
When it comes to sharing knowledge within an organisation, what feedback is shared – and how – can make a significant difference in terms of the value gained.
Speaker, trainer and coach, Mark McPherson – who recently spoke at the Learning & Development Masterclass held in Sydney on 30 November – told L&D Professional how this practice can pay off for both organisations and learners.

If we're talking about sharing knowledge, rather than sharing complaints, criticisms or gripes, then allowing employees to share their knowledge should never be awkward,” he explained.
According to McPherson, think there are two types of knowledge which learners can share.
“The first type is when they have simple straight down the line knowledge which they should be sharing to help their colleagues and help the organisation,” he said.
“The second type is knowledge which can help the organisation but sharing it mightn't be received well.”
McPherson said that in order to help employees share their knowledge when they are departing, organisations should provide clear opportunities for employees to share their knowledge, ideas, suggestions and even their criticisms.
“Do it on a regular and ongoing basis. Don't wait until an employee is departing to give them an opportunity to share their knowledge,” he said.
“Set up frameworks, processes and even what we might call rules for staff to share their knowledge.”
McPherson said this helps make sure employees can be as helpful and objective as possible, and that any comments and suggestions which could be seen as criticism are delivered in a way which is as supportive and polite as possible.
“If it's appropriate, and makes sense, have employees share their knowledge confidentially. This can be done by phone, e-mail, meetings, etc,” he said.
“But it can also be done in what we'll call here for convenience, a ‘suggestion box’ or ‘knowledge box’. It can be a physical place or a digital one - although with a digital one it's harder to ensure confidentiality.”
McPherson added that in any case, if employers decide to have a ‘suggestion box’, they need to:
  • Make sure the boundaries, the parameters or whatever you want to call them are very clear. Staff deserve to know what is expected, what is allowed and what isn't acceptable.
  • Make sure the staff are not wasting their time. That is make sure the knowledge they share is read, analysed and acted on.
  • Let staff know that knowledge has been received and looked at closely. This can be tricky but staff deserve to know the
  • If appropriate, let staff know what knowledge has been shared and how it has been acted on.

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The six workplace trends you can’t ignore