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Knowledge Sharing Best Practices

When new hires join an organization, as part of onboarding, I want to be sure there is a plan in place for other employees to share their organizational, department, division, customer and other knowledge about the job to the new hires in the department. Knowledge sharing from one individual to another is essential to the new hire’s success; and not always easy to get accomplished for a number of reasons:

  • Employees may want to keep their knowledge close and not share because they feel that it is job security
  • There is no formal process in place to accomplish knowledge sharing within the organization
  • It isn’t considered important by department management who would rather employees focus on getting the work done
  • Employees don’t know how to go about sharing knowledge with others

When planning onboarding programs for new hires, be sure to take the following best practice steps to ensure a successful sharing of knowledge between long-time employees and new hires:

  • Develop a socialization plan. Especially if this is a new initiative within the organization, be sure that employees recognize the benefits of sharing knowledge. Ensure you have management support as employees will be spending time with new hires and you want management to encourage these interactions. A socialization plan provides you with a route to gain commitment and support of the initiative from throughout the organization.
  • Develop a process for knowledge sharing. Identify key knowledge that should be transferred to each new employee – such as key clients of the company, organizational and department structures, use of technologies, how decisions are made, etc. Remember, also, that there are informal ways of getting the work done within the organization and it is of value to ensure that new hires get that information also.
  • Support the initiative. This includes enabling for time away from the office for the employee and the new hire to build a relationship (provide budget for lunch out for example) and ensuring that management supports the employee spending time with the new hire to share knowledge throughout the day (enabling for the new hire to “shadow” the employee, enabling the new hire to attend client meetings, etc.)
  • Measure the success. Have a plan in place to measure the success of the knowledge sharing initiative. How will you ensure that knowledge is shared? Set specifics around what is to be shared, target dates for doing so and how it might be done (job shadowing, client visits, introduction to other departments, etc.). Set time periods to check in on how it is going.

Think of this as a form of mentoring between the current employee and the new hire. The current employee is taking the new hire under his/her wing to guide them through the workings of the organization. It helps new hires get up to speed quickly, adapt to the culture, feel a part of the organization and provides them a basis for establishing relationships within the organization.