5 Tips for Building a Collaborative KM Culture
One of the biggest barriers to successful KM implementation is culture. It can be tricky to create a knowledge-driven culture without the right strategies, tactics, and tools in place to support and encourage knowledge sharing.
Here are five tips for creating a collaborative KM culture within your firm.
1. Create a compelling KM mission that excites and engages
Motivating staff to share knowledge can be difficult, as many find KM to be a difficult concept to grasp.
Therefore, a compelling KM mission is a really useful way for knowledge management teams to ‘sell’ KM to the firm as a whole and help staff to visualise the great benefits of knowledge sharing. This can be made into a formal statement, or it can just be a set of ideas that are repeated and reinforced. The important thing is that your KM mission should be something inspiring that staff can turn to for clarity.
A simple way to create a KM mission is to explain what your firm’s KM strategy is trying to achieve – and ultimately what the end goal of knowledge sharing will be. It’s also a good idea to tie in the end-user with the vision to make them feel part of the process.
For example, your KM vision might be to unite the firm’s collective experience in one, accessible platform, that staff can interact with when they need assistance.
2. Offer staff a chance to get hands on with KM efforts
Although reviewing, editing and managing know-how will most likely be the task of your firm’s knowledge leaders, it’s important to offer every member of staff a chance to contribute to your knowledge library.
This means empowering all teams to not just browse your knowledge store, but also submit their own know-how for review. By approving and sharing knowledge articles from individuals within the firm, you can offer staff a real confidence boost. By investing in your team’s knowledge and promoting their expertise, they’ll be sure to feel valued and part of the bigger picture – reinforcing your collaborative KM culture.
3. Aim to recognise or reward effective knowledge sharers
An often-overlooked aspect of creating a collaborative culture is the idea of recognition and reward. Although the end goal is to make knowledge sharing a regular activity, this change will take time. An approach to boost practices that has real impact is recognition and reward – highlighting those who are sharing their knowledge and rewarding them for their activities.
This can be done in private to encourage the individual, or it can be done in public via intranet announcements and company meetings, sharing information about active sharers – and the rewards they’ve received – all to motivate others to contribute, too.
But it can be difficult to recognise and reward active contributors if activity isn’t monitored effectively. So, if you can, try to have the right tools and technology in place to support you with this.
4. Aim to secure leadership buy in for top-down cultural change
For real transformation to take place, cultural change should be reinforced in all departments and at all levels. A positive influence of leaders can really help you to kickstart your knowledge sharing culture from day one.
But don’t forget – much like other staff, leaders may need to be educated about the benefits of KM, too. For example, we’ve heard a number of senior leaders claim that they’re ‘too busy for Knowledge Management’ – so we recommend trying to focus your efforts on highlighting the real time saving benefits of efficient knowledge search as well as the productivity boost that comes with firmwide access to actionable knowledge.
Although securing engagement and endorsement from just one leader can take a significant amount time – and a real commitment of effort – the process can really pay off in the end. With expectations set from senior leaders, staff will be more likely to go ‘out of their comfort zone’ and share their know-how with others. Mirroring the behaviour of those above them, these behaviours will become the norm over time as expectations are embedded in routines.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
In the past, a number of firms have focused all their time, resources and energy on promoting KM at the beginning of their journey – losing momentum as their strategy progresses. But, as the firm grows and develops, it’s key that knowledge sharing is consistently encouraged to capture emerging best practices.
To maintain sharing momentum, and energise individuals, try to send out communications regularly to keep staff connected with the cause. Whether you aim for a monthly newsletter, regular catch-ups or even internal webinars, try to frequently work on raising awareness for your knowledge strategy. An important element of the Knowledge Manager’s role is the continuous championing of knowledge activities, and the habitual promotion of the best practices for knowledge sharing.
Interested in learning how technology could support your firm’s collaborative culture? Blueprint for KM was designed by lawyers for lawyers, empowering all users to actively engage with your knowledge strategy and share their industry expertise.