Plek blog

How do you let colleagues actively share knowledge with others in the organisation?

 The advent of social intranets has made it possible to connect and collaborate outside your department or organisation. Here are some practical tips that will help you ensure that colleagues will look further than their own team when it comes to knowledge sharing. That way, your communication platform is guaranteed to be a success!

Why share knowledge and collaborate outside your team?

What does knowledge sharing and collaboration outside your team or even outside your organisation provide? Based on weak ties and serendipity: a lot, explains Peter Staal of community consultancy Bind in his guest blog on

"Sharing knowledge and collaborating outside your team prevents tunnel vision, accelerates innovation, makes information accessible and also increases productivity and employee satisfaction." Peter Staal, founder and co-owner of Bind

The need to visit the platform

When implementing a social intranet, ask yourself if you can start by making just one process much better or easier. Start with a pressing problem that will be solved through the platform. In that way you make a lot of people happy right away, and then you can optimize other processes and make sure the platform offers something for everyone.

Community management and cultuur

Many people are stuck in a pattern in which knowledge sharing is not a standard occurrence. A community manager helps change this, and emphasizes the business importance of the intranet - especially in the initial phase. Without community management, people often only use the social part of their platform (with their own little club), for fun things. To change hardwired work patterns, you need someone to really drive this adoption. Think of culture change and a social intranet as two separate projects, and don't assume that a social intranet itself will bring about the desired culture change.

Collaboration and trust

Provide psychological safety: people must have the confidence that no one will punish, reject or condemn them if they make themselves known on the platform. So create conditions that support that.

"Show exemplary behavior yourself and involve early adopters who have a positive constructive attitude." Peter Staal, founder and co-owner of Bind

Being very active on the platform should never be punished (as in "you've spent a lot of time on Plek, then surely you have too little to do?"). Management does not want 'just chatting' on a platform like Plek, and they themselves can act as ambassadors in this regard. Their example behavior ensures that the tool is taken seriously by everyone in the organisation. For example, consider a "Dare to Ask" channel: if the director responds to a question with "What a good question" and addresses it, people feel comfortable and indeed dare to ask (and respond).

A side note to the negative connotation of "just chatter on the platform," by the way, is that quantity can also help achieve quality on a platform like Plek. Peter wrote about this in his guest blog under the phenomenon of "Serendipity". It may happen that someone looks at Plek just for the chatter but by chance also comes across content of interest and thus gets involved in more quality content.

Omgaan met sceptici Dealing with skeptics

How do you deal with skeptics? Is it smart to engage them early on to get them excited? In our own experience it is definitely a good idea to engage them early on, even before you start implementing a platform. This is because then you can seriously include wishes and concerns of less enthusiastic employees. In Bind's experience, involving (more) skeptics in the phase following implementation generally does not work well. The advice for that phase is to entice and inspire these people by showing them nice examples of people they themselves resemble, or who have the same function.

To also get people with cold feet to actively contribute, it is smart to organise training sessions. For example, set up a group with which you hold offline meetings to learn how the platform works. That's where trust is established. Also, see what offline meetings already exist in your organisation, what networks already exist offline, and mirror this on your communication platform.

Consume, contribute, create

Isabel de Clercq sees three levels of participation in online knowledge sharing:

Level 1. Consume - Search for information relevant to you
Level 2. Contribute - Share information and provide interpretation
Level 3. Create - Share your thought process

Keep in mind that the goal is not to get all employees to level 3. In social networks, it often appears that 1% are at level 3, 9% are at level 2 and as many as 90% are at level 1. This is fine, as long as the first layer is valuable enough for the users in question. You measure this, for example, by comparing statistics and conducting surveys.The questions you should ask depend on your goals but think for example "How did X help you achieve result Y?". Also remember that the ultimate goal should not be 'use the platform'. The platform itself should contribute to achieving a higher goal.

If you want to get more people to level 2 or even level 3, as the administrator, make sure you have things like complete profiles and clear summaries. In addition, facilitate discussion, continue exemplary behavior and publicly thank and/or praise others who do so. As a user (for example, an ambassador recruited by the organisation), you can help people get to higher levels by @-mentioning and answering questions, for example.

Open up and work out loud

To get many people to level 3, "Create," you can apply "Working Out Loud" (see also "Narrate Your Work" and "When Will We Work Out Loud? Soon!") An example: A says "I'm currently working on this," to which B says "I know someone who can help you with that" or to which C says "I've already done that!". That's how you avoid duplication and increase serendipity. And of course, we at Plek can only agree that making the work process public has great benefits. Open up!

Would you like to talk to us about Plek, or about activating colleagues on your communication platform? Then get in touch with us.

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