One of the most important functions of a team is to share knowledge and learning. Whether you’re determining the fastest way to solve a customer problem or where the the creamer is in the break room, we all have a constant need for new data in our lives. When we work apart from each other, that information sharing may not happen without a little nudge. As both a leader and a learner, it’s critical to share the learning with your teammates for a number of reasons.
The easiest place to find something is in somebody else’s brain.
We can Google, look up, search databases, and generally dig around for almost anything these days. But isn’t it easier to just ask someone else? In the office this happens all the time. People lob questions over cubicle walls, get the answers quickly, and apply the knowledge right away. It might be less simple when we work apart, but between email, instant message tools, Slack or Teams, and the good old telephone we have multiple ways of asking for the information we need.
The problem is that we often are hesitant to take advantage of them. Maybe you’re afraid of bothering someone else, or interrupting their work. It could be that you don’t know these people well and don’t want to look like you don’t know what you’re doing. Or maybe it just never dawns on you that Josephine has been with the company since it’s founding and might possess the information you need faster than you can find it yourself.
Somebody just spent two hours researching that answer. Why should you?
If you have a problem or question, it’s not unreasonable to assume someone, somewhere has had the same question and gotten an answer. On a remote team, the challenge often is to access the knowledge on demand. Fortunately there are lots of ways to capture knowledge and make it accessible to the rest of the team.
Taking advantage of tools like SharePoint, creating Frequently Asked Questions on your intranet or team communication platform, or even creating special channels in Slack can limit the amount of time you spend seeking answers someone else already found.
Sharing knowledge is a great way to build relationships.
We build trust by getting to know the talents, personality, and knowledge level of our teammates. If someone answers a question for us, we think favorably of that person. If we don’t know them before and they save our bacon by getting us critical information, we’re likely to be grateful and return the favor if possible. Understanding each person’s level of expertise also makes our job simpler (If you want to know about Excel, ask Alice. If you want to know what we sold to the Jackson account in 1998, Bob’s your guy) Knowing that you have help can also make it less frustrating when you feel isolated and the more you share information, the more comfortable you are admitting that you don’t know something.
Every member of the team knows something that somebody else doesn’t know. Whether that’s a piece of pop culture trivia or a hack for getting the most from your software. Sharing that information can make the whole team more efficient and effective.
Creating a learning culture has great benefits beyond problem solving.
When the members of a team are encouraged to share information with their teammates, it encourages a culture of curiosity, openness and faith in each other. It can also be fun. Not everything you learn has to be immediately relevant to the task at hand. Create places in your collaboration tools for the sharing of knowledge and reward those who contribute to the combined wisdom of the team.
If you take training, share the tools with our teammates. Set up a place on Slack or Microsoft Teams for cool articles and websites. The team that learns together earns together. (I learned that in a seminar once, and thought I”d share it. See how easy that is?)
What are some of your best practices for sharing information and learning together as a team?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammate, offers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.