Want to know the best practices for knowledge sharing to foster collaboration?

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The focus of this commentary is on collaboration and how to apply best practices to assist in elevating your team. A framework is presented to help you see what actions  you should consider as you promote best practices. Ideally you can apply these tips immediately. However, sometimes collaboration stalls and conflicts arise. When that happens, communication is the key. Tips on how to address these types of concerns are provided that can be applied in a high percentage of these types of situations.


How to foster collaboration


Good leadership requires fostering a collaborative, knowledge sharing environment. The ability to not simply have knowledge management, but to promote knowledge sharing is critical for optimum collaboration. How you promote and address knowledge sharing challenges may require a culture shift. The usual focus is on technology, but the key is to foster an environment where everyone contributes and benefits. This requires an emphasis on what were referred to as social skills that now are referred to as critical skills. Emotional intelligence, listening intelligence, and conversational intelligence are key.

It begins with bringing on top talent and retaining the best. It continues with giving everyone access to information with mentors in order to speed up the process and ensure everyone is valued.

As new people come on board, they are able to see how they can contribute. When this happens, they feel a sense of self-worth and a commitment to the team. This is expected with millennials and generation Z employees. Look for ways to expand opportunities for both learning and growth. Learning opportunities contribute to happiness at work. This is also how team members develop skills, reskill, and deliver additional value to your overall organization. Determine how you will ensure feed forward and appreciation.  Opportunities and gratitude fuel improvement. They improve productivity and reduce job loss. Experts serve as advisors allowing for accelerated innovation. This approach enhances innovation, is contagious, and scales to other areas.

By comparison inaction costs money, time, talent, and resources.

The impact is in dollars and cents as well as on morale. Solution providers enjoy challenges and networking. They do not appreciate having to rework the same problem over again.

So, what do you do?

  1. It starts with leadership signaling the culture shift
  2. Allow others to share what they know
  3. Break down the barriers (silos) that hinder innovation
  4. Be proactive at documenting what you know
  5. Make knowledge sharing part of your culture – recognize, acknowledge, and reward collaboration
  6. Open opportunities to everyone that has knowledge to share
  7. Have fun along the way and recognize accomplishments with appreciation
  8. Select technical components that make sense for your organization
  9. Step back and see how others are using knowledge sharing
  10. Continually promote effective change to make it part of your culture 


How to elevate your team


In order to elevate your team to the next level explore some tips to become even more collaborative.

It all begins with defining roles and responsibilities for each team member.

When participants understand their roles and responsibilities and how they relate to each other, they have a better understanding of their role in the large scope of things, feel more in control which reduces stress, can see progress as time goes on which also reduces stress, and appreciate the overall project and effort of team members. It may be necessary to provide a simple matrix that lists team members and roles. This helps everyone figure out where they fit and everyone else too.

Set clear objectives and goals.

These need to be realistic. Pie in the sky goals will discourage team members because they will feel that it cannot be done. If they are too easy, they are likely to lose interest and potentially become complacent.

Communication is key.

Ensure various alternatives for communication are used appropriately. Regular briefings, virtual sessions, virtual calls, email, and texts. Listening is key in communication. Everyone should be open to new ideas. Everyone is important. Use feed forward emphasizing what we will do going forward after something did not work. Do not use feedback as a disciplinary tool.

Encourage creativity.

Consider brainstorming. Know the rules. Carry them out. Have fun with this too. You may be surprised at what you produce.


What to do when conflict arises


Inevitably conflict will take place. This could be due to personality conflicts, territory boundaries breached, inappropriate skill levels, poor management, miscommunications, or other reasons. Heidi K. Gardner and Ivan A. Matviak provide some excellent guidance in Smarter Collaboration: A New Approach to Breaking Down Barriers and Transforming Work. Communication is often the key. As individuals find ways to develop authentic connecting relationships, listen actively, and work collectively with each other it is possible to overcome these types of barriers. It is important for leaders to keep expectations realistic and not to overburden teammates. Leadership should promote trust, familiarity among team members (leave time for this), allow for better coordination, and give permission to raise alarms when participants see something going wrong.

At this web site are numerous articles associated with conflict resolution that can help you. For example, topics include commentary on such things as:

  • Phrases to use to help de-escalate conflicts
  • Understanding how values impact conflicts
  • How to overcome implicit bias to avoid conflicts
  • How to educate others in an argument
  • Resolve disputes by listening actively
  • How to address hidden flaws
  • Apply six steps from medical science for resolving conflicts
  • How to move past conflict avoidance

And many more.

This author posts links on these and related topics weekly. The focus is on collaboration and conflict resolution. Check these out as well as the weekly blog at mikegreg.com/blog.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]