Oli Foster / 29th May 2018

Internal skill sharing: why and how to do it

Are you one of those people who plays their cards close to their chest? What about at work?

More and more, we are hearing about people who don’t share their knowledge with their coworkers.

Now, we can see their logic to an extent. But as far as we’re concerned, the trend should definitely be heading in the opposite direction.

We’ve heard that many people are hesitant to share their skills and knowledge internally, for seemingly obvious reasons. If you are the top performer in your department, skill sharing can seem like giving up your edge. If you oversimplify the nuances of your job to your colleagues, there can be concern that it will devalue your work or even call into question your usefulness.

But the benefits of internal skill sharing far outweigh these remotely possible drawbacks.

Why do it?

First of all, internal skill sharing will increase social interaction in the workplace. This, in turn, will improve not only interpersonal relationships, but also collaboration and creative problem solving for everyone.

Secondly, sharing information, skills and knowledge across departments will increase accessibility. As resources are easily accessible, and knowledge widely shared, response times will speed up and processes for everything will surely improve.

Thirdly (but far from finally), sharing knowledge in this way will preserve it. One way it does this is by ensuring new employees are up to speed and up to scratch in case of others moving on or retiring. It also improves your own understanding of your skills. Explaining something to somebody else is a proven way to further ingrain it into your own mind.

Share more than workloads

We have tried and tested a number of different ways to improve our sharing abilities.

Our most effective method so far is a fortnightly workshop (although it took some time to find the ideal frequency!) where one team member shares a skill or passion with attendees.

The idea behind this is that everybody gets a chance to share, and to learn something new. Not every workshop is business-based, because we think sharing personal passions will develop team closeness, but every workshop is interesting to someone.

So far, we’ve covered topics from fishing to SEO development. And we’re currently experimenting with prizes for the most engaging workshops, because a little incentivising never hurt anyone!

Internal skill sharing workshop incentive winners

Recent winning workshops earned their ‘teachers’ some very exciting tickets

Restructured communication

The most obvious way to improve your internal skill sharing with immediate effect is by restructuring your office.

We know that open-plan offices aren’t for everyone. But incorporating a little more openness in your office layout, even a minor adjustment, can make it so much easier to share knowledge freely.

Even if you don’t rearrange your furniture, simply making an effort to foster a more open atmosphere within the workplace will make a difference. People will feel more able to share, talk openly about their knowledge, and still be confident that their ‘edge’, or even their job, is secure.