22 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
Make knowledge sharing part of your culture
By Cynthia J. Young
At a workshop I gave to a group of
project managers, one of my partici-
pants shared a negative experience she
had as a restaurant waitress. She had
just started her shift and was waiting
on customers who ordered one of the
specials they saw online. She wasnt
aware of a new special and felt em-
barrassed that she did not know the
specials had changed, and she couldnt
give any information about the special
the customers ordered. The manager
wasnt in attendance, but the partici-
pant shared that the manager did not
tell her anything about the change
of specials in advance of her shift.
Before anyone picks a side on
who is at fault, know that the re-
sponsibility lies with both parties.
When did the information come
out about the specials? Did the
waitstaff miss a required meeting
with their manager? Did the manager
forget to tell the team?
Below are five ways for managers to
make knowledge sharing part of the or-
ganizational culture to prevent occur-
rences like the one the waitress shared.
Talk to individuals. Talk to some-
one behind closed doors. Share a story
of when someone held on to the knowl-
edge that would have helped the team
or another individual. Let them know
that sharing knowledge provides a per-
son with more power to be counted on
rather than potentially seen as being
selsh or out for themselves. Address-
ing individuals allows you to give the
same message across the board.
Talk to your team. Address the
benefits of knowledge sharing with
the team as part of overall growth.
Also, talk about how it brings a team
together when they share experiences
and know-how. If you have an example
that you can communicate openly with
the team that explains how knowledge
hoarding hurt a team or how knowl-
edge sharing helped a group, this pro-
vides proof of the benefits.
Use performance reviews. As part
of the organizational culture, knowl-
edge sharing can be part of the criteria
for achieving a high rating in teamwork.
In a performance review, knowledge
sharing should not result in a “yes or no
evaluation but more about employees
contributions when working in the or-
Use process integration. Inte-
grate knowledge management into
the process by requiring team mem-
bers to share lessons learned, discuss
risks and mitigations, and talk overall
about how they dealt with this issue
in the past before starting the process
they are tasked with completing. This
allows team members with experience
to share their knowledge and know-
how in a structured event where the
expectation is that knowledge is to be
Use mentorship. Mentoring is
critical to ensure knowledge sharing
doesnt falter. Share a story of how you
have beneted from knowledge shar-
ing in a challenging project and dis-
cuss opportunities for all to share their
knowledge or know-how. Listen to
your employees’ concerns since they
may feel intimidated, shy or dont have
something of value to contribute.
Managing by using the tact of
knowledge sharing can prevent mis-
understandings, allow your team
to function at its best and support
all personnel in the organization.
Shareholders and customers ben-
efit because your team will have
the requisite knowledge to sup-
port the product or service.
Knowledge sharing may also
improve the trust employees feel from
their managers. Share more than you
receive. You may see your team mem-
bers increasing productivity, sharing
more knowledge that they have or
just being happier in their respective
Cynthia J. Young, Ph.D., is founder and
CEO of CJ Young Consulting, LLC, as
well as a curriculum developer and instruc-
tor with Leidos. Young retired as a Surface
Warfare Ofcer with 23 years in the U.S.
Navy. She holds professional certications
as a PMP, LSSMBB and CMQ/OE.
She is an IISE member. Contact her at
Mentoring is critical
to ensure knowledge sharing
doesn’t falter.
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