According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary,
“Culture is the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thought, speech, action, and artifacts and depends on man’s capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.”
This definition also accurately sums up the components of an enduring corporate culture. Let’s look at how this pertains to creating a culture of experts and thought leadership within your company. Keep in mind, that an organization’s unique knowledge base is built upon the experiences of its most productive members. This group of individuals represents the vanguard of organizational experts.
How to Create a Culture of Experts and Thought Leaders
An important question is: How do we create a culture of experts to collect and share our knowledge for improved productivity and profitability? Here are are few ways you can build a culture of experts that uses your most capable staff to improve performance, increase productivity, and to keep critical knowledge within the organization.
Identify Your Experts and Establish Mentorship
Begin by identifying your most productive and knowledgeable employees; this is the core of your culture. This group represents the critical knowledge and business practices that must be retained by the company regardless of turnover. Use this group of experts as coaches and mentors for other employees within their area of expertise, beginning the process of converting their knowledge into a shared resource.
McKinsey & Company emphasize the importance of choosing the right metrics to reap the most benefit from coaching. Although those metrics will vary widely by industry, they must reflect the most important specific skills that employees need to fulfill their roles. Your coaches will spread the new culture by transmitting their knowledge, increasing employee engagement, and ultimately creating more experts in your organization.
The role of your core group may change, but it won’t diminish. As the organization grows and evolves, these are the employees who will make transitions smooth by consistently improving their skill set and bringing others up to speed.
Emphasize Learning with Knowledge Management (KM)
An effective KM strategy will distinguish between tacit and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is what individual employees possess; conversely explicit knowledge is available for everyone in the company to use. To create a culture of experts, tacit knowledge must become explicit. The most efficient way to accomplish this is by promoting information sharing among employees.
For practical use and retention of critical business knowledge, there must be an emphasis on becoming a learning-based organization. Encouraging the acquisition and sharing of information between all employees is essential to mitigate the loss of tribal knowledge that comes with the departure of key staff.
Standardize the Language
If your culture is to be successful, the members of your organization need to speak the same language and share the same core values. A culture’s language is essentially the values and core principles critical to your company’s success and an important element in making it durable.
Aligning organizational language, values, and principles will make the culture cohesive ensuring that everyone is on the same page and understands what is expected of them.
Documenting this information will make it tangible, and provide a stable foundation to build on. Bear in mind that a degree of malleability must be factored in so that the culture can adapt to changes in both business and employees.
Reward and Recognize
Reward your employees for sharing valuable information. There are few better ways to reward an employee than by recognition; use an employee of the month system or recognition board. Your staff will become more engaged, and intra-company competition will encourage ever-increasing levels of participation.
Model The Culture You are Creating
One of the best ways to encourage compliance among your employees is to lead by example. Take an active part in the culture of experts that you’ve created, be in the forefront of implementation; whether it’s by coaching/mentoring your managers, use of collaboration tools or personally taking care of the reward program. Demonstrate your commitment to the organization by embracing the culture of experts you’ve created.
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” Steve Jobs, founder of Apple
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