A not long time ago, I had a conversation with a continuous improvement professional about collaboration. The company he works for encourages the sharing of information and ideas. They share the problem they have, what they tried, and work well. Also, they talk about what did not work well. In other words, sharing ideas and help each other is part of the culture.
Benefits of sharing knowledge and information
I once saw a place in which culture is the opposite of that one. Some of the leaders were information hoarders. Sometimes the staff had trouble completing their tasks. Meanwhile, somebody had the solution but did not share it with them. As a consequence, employees feel frustrated, and the morale was low.
On the contrary, when people help each other and share knowledge, morale and engagement are high. Also, in that type of culture, employees are more innovative and creative. Innovation and creativity are fundamental for process improvements and adding value to the customer. Consequently, the business thrives with better customer satisfaction and increasing revenue.
How to encourage sharing ideas in the workplace
There are five key elements to encourage or facilitate sharing ideas and information in the workplace.
- Create the right environment – The company culture fosters creativity and collaboration. They make clear that sharing ideas is not only acceptable but also expected. Create a judgment-free environment where there are no dumb ideas. Furthermore that all of them will be considered and have a fair shot of being implemented.
- Provide the necessary space and tools – Encourage cross-functional conversations with a bright and open room. A dedicated space where people can meet to brainstorm ideas. The area should have whiteboards, flipcharts, and access to the internet, company intranet. A suggestion program or online system to share ideas are other ways to facilitate sharing ideas.
- Be transparent in your communication of business goals, challenges, and good news – When leadership shares this information with the team, ideas pop up in their heads. However, for that to happen, they need to have some information first. Start by explaining how their work affects the customer and the business’s bottom line.
- Practice collaboration model the behavior – Share your ideas with the team without fear of being vulnerable. After all, that is what you are asking them to do. Make people feel valued by asking for opinions or help.
- Do something with the information you got. – For instance, ask questions and provide feedback. Even more, propose to fill a suggestion form or if it is something worthy and easy, do it or ask somebody to do it!
Foster an environment that thrives on sharing ideas, not hoarding tribal knowledge. When leadership shares their wisdom with the team, they feel valued. Also, by doing that, they are modeling the desired behavior of sharing knowledge. If knowledge is power, and you share it with the entire team, then they are empowered.
Ingenuity does not happen by chance; it thrives on collaboration. When people from different walks of life and diverse experiences collaborate, better ideas and solutions come to life.