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Sep 25, 2018

Approx. 4 min. read

Why Employees Aren't Sharing Their Information

Do you suffer from information silos and lack of a communication flow in your organization? As our working life is becoming a knowledge economy,...

Do you suffer from information silos and lack of a communication flow in your organization? As our working life is becoming a knowledge economy, sharing and gaining the right information at the right time is the key to business success.

Employees use a third of their workday looking for information, and many consider looking for information burdensome and frustrating. We have more information available than ever, yet finding it has become increasingly difficult. Employees should be able to look for each other to share relevant information, but this often seems like a very difficult task. Why aren’t employees sharing their information with each other? Here are six likely reasons:

1. Employees Are Unsure of Their Knowledge

Employees may be reluctant to share their knowledge if they are unsure of the quality of their knowledge. They might be afraid that they accidentally share the wrong information or that their knowledge is outdated or irrelevant.

It is possible your employees do indeed have gaps in their knowledge, and you should provide them training and up-to-date resources to make sure their information stays fresh and relevant. It is also possible that lack of confidence in one’s level of knowledge is a personal issue and related to their self-image and to their perception of themselves in the workplace. This problem cannot be fixed by simply handing in more information, but with receptive listening, support and mentoring of the employee.

Read More: Why You Need Empathy in The Workplace

2. Employees Fear Admitting Mistakes

Mistakes often provide the best ground for learning. It is impossible to learn from mistakes if people are afraid to admit having made them. If the work culture doesn’t allow mistakes to be made, employees will always play it safe, never try new things, and will always try to cover their mistakes before anyone notices them. Management and team leaders should discuss the importance of learning from failures and mistakes and lead by example.

3. Employees Fear Losing Power

If the workplace suffers from a lack of trust, employees might be afraid to share knowledge. Employees may be afraid that if they share their skills and knowledge, someone may take over their tasks and the employee will be replaced. Especially in knowledge organizations where many tasks are completed by one of two highly skilled professionals, the threshold to openly share expertise and specific information may be high.

It is also possible employees don’t share knowledge with each other because they are afraid of giving up power and authority. For example, managers may consider themselves as the gatekeepers to key financial or business data and if this data is shared with everyone, their authority as being the sole source of this information is lost.

Employee knowledge sharing by internal communication

4. The Benefits of Knowledge Sharing Are Missing

It is possible employees don’t share their information and knowledge, because it doesn’t benefit them in any way. For example, if one person is always spending additional time and effort in explaining matters to others or showing them new things but the favor is never reciprocated, they may lose interest in sharing their knowledge altogether. Similarly, if their efforts are never recognized or appraised by their colleagues or their peers, they can lose motivation to share knowledge. This is why it is important to recognize, appraise and reward employees who actively share their knowledge with other employees.

Read Also: How to Reward Knowledge Sharing

5. Employees Lack the Correct Technology

Employees won't share knowledge with each other, if they lack the correct tool for it, don't know how to use the tool, or have no motivation to use it. Instant messaging channels like Slack or Yammer are good for sharing day-to-day conversations and quick updates, but they aren’t the right forums for sharing in-depth insights, best practices or experiences.

Invest in a good internal content hub that allows your employees to access relevant information as well as share it with each other. One great platform for finding and sharing information and content is called Smarp (hey, that’s us!).

6. Knowledge Sharing Isn't Supported

If knowledge sharing isn’t encouraged and recognized, employees won’t feel encouraged to share their knowledge and the lessons they have learned. Management can encourage knowledge sharing by creating and fostering a knowledge sharing culture. Management should support knowledge sharing and recognize and reward good practices. It is also important that management shows a good example by actively sharing information and relevant content.

Managers can encourage peer-to-peer learning by setting up weekly or monthly peer-to-peer sessions and setting up tutorials led by employees. Employees can share their best practices and good experiences on these occasions.

The organization needs to support and encourage collaboration between teams and employees and encourage an active dialogue between colleagues. Creating a knowledge management and knowledge sharing culture should be a business objective with measurable goals.

To read more on knowledge sharing, check out our free guide below!

Free Guide - Organizational Knowledge Sharing 101: How to get Started

Written by

Mia Mäkipää

Mia Mäkipää

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