How to establish a collaborative culture to succeed in Knowledge Management

The implementation of a strategy often requires changes in people, processes, and technology. Perhaps the most difficult change and the one we struggle most with is changing ourselves – the people. We’re creatures of habit, and if we’re not motivated or can’t see what’s in it for us, we essentially won’t ever change. When establishing successful Knowledge Management, we need to shift the culture away from recognizing people for what they know, and toward recognizing people for their ability to learn, collaborate, and share. How can we transition to a winning Knowledge Management culture? Author Daniel Pink outlines three key motivational factors in his popular book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”.

Autonomy – a sense of control

When we make changes in an organization, we often force the employees to make these changes by just saying “now your job requires these tasks”. How enthusiastic are we about doing the things we’re told to do versus the things we choose to do? When we require people to do things without them having any sense of control or choice, we compromise one of the most valuable motivation factors: autonomy. We like to have control and be able to make choices over our activities and situation. Autonomy also motivates us to think creatively. This gives us the freedom to try out and test new ideas, which can benefit the organization, such as by way of improved processes or innovative solutions.

The goal of leadership is to create an environment where employees choose to help and feel good about sharing their knowledge. If they are to motivate and engage employees, leaders should include them when planning and creating Knowledge Management processes and workflows. Employees should be highly involved in establishing the knowledge workflow: how to create, structure, improve, and reuse the knowledgebase. They are the ones that know best what works in their day-to-day work.

Mastery – the desire for continuous improvement

If you are motivated by mastery, you’ll constantly seek to improve your skills through learning and practice. You are making continuous improvements in your work for your own sake, and you’ll likely see that your potential is unlimited. The only way you know you are making progress on anything is if you are getting some kind of feedback on your performance, either directly or indirectly. You depend on continuous feedback to know that you’re doing the right things and doing them well. That can be a challenge in an organization that relies on annual performance reviews.

To encourage employees’ desire to improve, leaders should have more informal catchups with employees, as well as provide instant team feedback via statistics dashboards and reports. In the Knowledge Management methodology KCS® (Knowledge-Centered Service), there are several elements that focus on mastery and motivation. One of them is the KCS licensing model, in which employees get increased authority and access to the knowledgebase, based on their performance and contribution.

Purpose – understanding why

People who find purpose in their work are the best motivated. Purpose is the foundation for what motivates us. It is our yearning to contribute and be part of something larger and more important than ourselves. People who have purpose are often the most hard-working, productive, and engaged employees. They are also motivated to pursue the most difficult of problems.

As leaders we should encourage our employees to find their purpose. To free them from mere measurement by numbers and figures so that they also can connect their work to people and values, and understand the “bigger picture” in terms of how collaboration and sharing knowledge benefits the entire organization. The degree to which individuals understand the bigger picture not only gives them a basis on which to make sound decisions, it encourages participation, gives them a sense of belonging, and enables them to feel good about their contribution and accomplishments. Show them how every little contribution to the knowledgebase, from improving something that’s incorrect to adding something that’s missing, is what makes the knowledgebase our most valuable asset.

How ComAround can help

I hope this article inspires you to change your organization into a more collaborative, knowledge-sharing, and demand-driven environment. If you need help implementing successful Knowledge Management, please contact us.

Find out more about our training and consulting services, as well as our Knowledge Management software ComAround Knowledge™.

Author of the blogg article: Therese Walve, ComAround, KCS Practices V6 certified.

Related links:

Whitepaper: Top ten reasons why Knowledge Management initiatives fail

Blog article: How to motivate your employees to use their new Knowledge Tool

Blog article: Are you encouraging your employees to share their knowledge?

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