When it comes to knowledge sharing, the biggest barrier is the fear of getting replaced. To disrupt that barrier the management needs to create a culture where everybody feels save to share ideas and exchange knowledge without the fear of becoming replaceable. Practices like job enrichment and job rotation should therefore be implemented as a norm to increase motivation, creative thinking, knowledge exchange, and open innovation.
Among team members, knowledge sharing is often connected with job loss, loss of control and the fear of being replaced. “As soon as someone knows what I know, I’m not as special anymore” are common thoughts when it comes to encouraging a more open knowledge transfer. Co-workers develop negative attitudes towards knowledge sharing, so they rather keep their know-how for themselves instead of collaborating and creating synergies.
But how to eliminate those negative feelings and make employees feel comfortable around the subject of sharing expertise with co-workers? Be it within the same enterprise or cross-organisationally.
The solution: Knowledge exchange must become a standard procedure, so team members do not associate bad attitudes towards it in the first place. Here are some ideas on how to realize it.
Job rotation is a technique, as the name suggests, to rotate employees’ assigned jobs throughout their employment. It is beneficial in many ways and is a great way to keep team members interested and increase motivation. It fosters employee learning and enables a broader understanding of the business as a whole, thus encouraging internal promotions. Furthermore, employers can learn their individual worker’s strengths. From job rotation a flexible and knowledgeable workforce evolves that can be leveraged throughout the company. And most importantly it creates a system where knowledge exchange becomes a natural outcome.
Job enlargement extends the range of job duties and responsibilities of the individual team member. It involves combining various activities generally within the same level and periphery and adding them to the existing job. It is also called the horizontal expansion of job activities. Like job rotation, job enlargement facilitates the exchange of expertise immensely thereby enhancing cohesion and reducing the employee’s fear of getting replaced or not being as valuable anymore.
Job enrichment gives team members additional responsibilities previously reserved for their manager or other higher-ranking positions. Whereas job enlargement adds broader responsibilities to a position, job enrichment gives the team members more vertical authority. It is a great way of boosting the organisational morale. Through job enrichment, team members necessarily share their knowledge to be able to perform the new tasks and at the same time feel more valuable which eliminates the fear of replaceability.
In conclusion, job rotation, job enlargement, and job enrichment not only empower knowledge sharing, they also ensure job security at the same time. Thus enabling the management to create a work environment of employment security and psychological safeties as well as open innovation and an uninterrupted knowledge flow.
What is your experience when it comes to knowledge exchange among team members? Do you agree that a job design with a wide task variety facilitates knowledge exchange and maintains job security?