Informal learning in organisations An exploration

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1 Informal learning in organisations An exploration Knowledge is the new organisational wealth, and a currency expressing employee connectivity. Yet, how willing and able are employees to freely share their knowledge capital with each other? How should managers and systems help? What is currently the case? How about resources, recognition? How deeply connected do people feel to themselves, to their entourage, their job and their organisation? Ultimately, how supple and agile do people consider their organisations to be? Living performance

2 Executive summary Organisations well understand the role of formal initiatives and architecture in nourishing employee learning and development. Yet another kind of learning - informal learning can and should complement these organised programmes. Our report explores the informal learning landscape, providing insights into the attitudes, experiences and needs of its most important agents - employees. Organisations must collaborate to be sustainable players in the modern business environment. Not only with other organisations, but also internally. Embedded in the DNA of today s most dynamic companies, collaborative behaviour creates advantages that are difficult for competitors to copy. Why? Collaborative organisation are quite simply business virtuosos. They can quickly form new patterns of thinking, anticipate and adapt to change in a rapid and supple way. 1,2 Fast-growth biotechnology player Ariad Pharmaceuticals places collaboration high on its list of core values. For Ariad, collaboration is the cornerstone of teamwork : We believe in collaborative relationships and shared success. Meanwhile, Servicenow offers cloud-based services for enterprise IT management. It has posted a revenue growth of 32000% over the past five years. It describes itself to potential employees as a company who offers a very collaborative and inclusive work environment where individuals strong on aptitude and attitude will have an opportunity to grow their professional careers through working with some of the most advanced technology and talented professionals in the business. Such cultures of collaboration demand that employees be closely connected to one another. And if we consider organisations as microeconomies, then we might also consider that knowledge, rather than money or tangible resources, is the new capital. If money expresses wealth 3, then knowledge is a currency to express and deal in connectivity. Free knowledge exchange between employees forms the informal dimension of organisational learning. Many consider informal learning to be as vital as formal architecture if not more so. It has to be part of the evolution of an organisation's knowledge, a French Division manager told us. It guarantees the durability of specific knowledge. Durability becomes even more imperative as waves of senior knowledge-owners retire from organisations, leaving questions surrounding the preservation of their knowledge legacy. Informal learning is a complement to formal learning, however, not a substitute for it. It cannot be disassociated from formal learning, which allows for a helicopter view, referring back to the fundamental aspects of knowledge. A Slovakian Director expressed it as follows: Informal learning is an important gap-filling technique, along with the official training required for the job position. Informal learning brings added value to peers on the job, as usually what we share informally and pass on to others comes from our experience and cannot be learnt on special courses. These views are supported by the 70/20/10 formula developed by Mcall, Eichinger and Lombardo. This suggests that only 10% of learning comes from formal training. 4 3 Heraty, N. (2004). Towards an architecture of 1 Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization: Knopf Doubleday 2 Goldstein et al (2010). Complexity and the Nexus of Leadership: Leveraging Nonlinear Science to Create Ecologies of Innovation: Palgrave Macmillan organization-led learning: HR Management Review, 14, Lombardo, MM. and Eichinger,(2000) R.W, The Career Architect Development Planner, 3rd edition: Lominger 2 Krauthammer International

3 Rather like plants popping up unexpectedly in a vegetable plot, informal learning needs skilled gardening. We absolutely have to create favourable conditions in companies to allow it to be exercised to the full. according to a French Technical Manager. Informal learning should be an undeniable part of a company's culture. a Belgian respondent said, echoing the views of several people. It should be more formally established and openly encouraged. This study finds out, delivering the good news, the not-so-good news, and specific areas for intervention. Informal learning is an implicit and elusive thing, and organisations complex. So how can we start to capture it? We have decided to focus mainly on the attitudes and activities of individual knowledge agents with regard to their peer entourages (people upon whom they closely depend to do their jobs). However, if informal learning depends upon people sharing their precious knowledge capital, it may be more difficult than it seems. A very special mindset, toolset and skill set are needed if people are to exchange productively, proactively and consistently. To exchange not because they are paid to, but because they want to. What is actually the case? Informal learning should be an undeniable part of a company's culture. a Belgian respondent said, echoing the views of several people. It should be more formally established and openly encouraged. 3 Krauthammer International

4 Figures in a nutshell Organisational agility 24% 20% say their organisations anticipate and adapts to change in a rapid and supple way say that the people in their organisations can quickly form new patterns of thinking Individuals as knowledge agents ` cite their direct entourage as their most important target group to share their 86% knowledge. 27% cite the HR or learning function 72% know what their knowledge capital is. 64% know what they need to develop Entourage connectivity. Of entourages... 70% Q 69% 54% 45% are sharing their knowledge proactively, all are sharing to a greater or lesser extent can easily identify and summarise key points of their knowledge. trust that there will not be negative consequences if they devote time to knowledge-sharing can easily inspire others with their knowledge The support knowledge agents need and get 84% 77% 72% see face-to-face spaces as important. 43% assign such importance to virtual meeting spaces see their manager as the most important source of recognition. 49% are satisfied cite target setting/kpi s as important. Only 53% find these supportive 60% 56% 52% 38% 30% 14% tend to adapt to members different track records and expertise, only 39%, to their different perspectives. are characterised by timely and spontaneous idea-sharing are generally able to help each other to learn from failure and recover generally question the views of more dominant personalities in a constructive way tend to display vulnerability to each other report that their best ideas are always or very often met with open minds by management 64% 43% think their manager believes in knowledge-sharing. 34% get managerial support in securing resources, 29%, systematic coaching get enough face-to-face time, 40% enough preparation time. 30% get enough budget

5 Management messages 1From yourself Welcome the good news, and build on it! All your employees are likely to be sharing knowledge to some degree. How can you help them become more entrepreneurial? This survey contains indicators. Recognise the relevance of internal knowledge sharing. Internal expertise has street credibility - thanks to relevant on-the-job experience and insider knowledge. Transform belief in knowledge-sharing into motivation also for managers. Integrating the support of knowledge-sharing employees into your list of core management tasks may drive you to give your direct reports the systematic recognition and coaching they sorely need. 2To your direct report/s Install coaching from the (neglected) basics to the aspirational. Around one in four of your employees is potentially unsure of a range of performance-related factors. From the basic their job description or the knowledge capital that makes them special - to the aspirational the value they add and what they need to know to develop. Such are the building blocks of a solid personalised coaching and development platform. Increasing meaning, willingness and ability when it comes to not only knowledge-sharing, but knowledge creation. Install trustbuilding messages and actions. Your employees trust in the consequences of sharing their knowledge may well be fragile. How can you help people transform suspicions about knowledge capital-sharing into enlightenment regarding the positive effect it can have on their brand equity? This report contains some important clues. Help employees to be themselves. Nearly nine out of ten employees know their motivations and core values. Yet under half as many say that most or all of their entourage members display their true selves,or show vulnerability in entourage exchanges. Authenticity is vital for trust, and exercising it needs help. This report contains guidance for manager-coaches to help employees balance authenticity and self-control. Give space to the face-to-face. Face-to-face interaction is judged important by twice as many respondents as virtual meeting spaces. When people cannot clearly see body language or hear the way in which words are said, interactivity suffers. On the other hand, virtual meeting spaces create agility and speed, swiftly bringing people together and eliminating travel time and costs. The key is to carefully match the knowledge exchange medium to the message, its audience and its intent. In terms of resources, it implies setting - and protecting - a minimum level of access to face-to-face interaction, and training people to use virtual meeting tools as naturally and effortlessly as possible. Develop a recognition reflex that helps rather than harms. As a quick win to motivating knowledge exchange, recognition is a gift on a silver plate and is possibly sitting in your cupboard. To work properly, recognition must be given as soon as possible after an event. On the other hand, to remain a positive stimulus, it must not become an automatic result of each and every action. Recognition should also be tailored to receiver preferences. Does your employee seek recognition that acknowledges his or her existence his or her effort or his or her results? Giving the wrong kind of compliment can mean that it is not seen as a compliment at all Give new ideas the best chance in life. Managerial openness to the best ideas arising from entourage interactions is very low. A framework for presenting initiatives upward is presented in this report. It starts with giving ourselves the permission to venture our initiative with confidence. Playing yourself down when facing authority is respectful neither towards the cause nor towards the other, nor towards yourself! Assign targets - even to informal learning. This is the second-most important support system for people. It could calm employee fears about being sanctioned if they devote work hours to knowledgesharing and help managers give concrete recognition. Target setting should be based on mutually, pre-agreed steps, not pedantically overemphasised, and based on employee proposals. More guidance in the full report. Help people link requests to results. Establishing targets can help to identify the resources necessary to meet them. Resourcing an explicit plan with measurable output is easier than resourcing a positive intention! 5 Krauthammer International

6 3To entourage interactions Help people to adapt to their audience and interact. The step from informing an audience to inspiring it is a difficult one for knowledge-sharers and they report difficulties inspiring others. Adapting to audience preferences can help people move from dullness to delight. It involves identifying and responding to learning styles. Are we asking readers to listen? Are we asking fact-lovers to buy into creativity? Furthermore, how are we facilitating a truly interactive dialogue? Delivering knowledge can add value to an audience. Doing so interactively can generate new knowledge and create new value Maximise the chances of trustbuilding behaviours in live exchanges. The way entourages behave in live exchanges could be seriously undermining their quality. Time to reinstall some facilitation fundamentals? This means presetting meeting agendas expressing the output intended (e.g. pool of ideas or decision ) and the type of interaction sought to get it, establishing clear rules of the game. A good on-the-spot facilitator will encourage more reticent members to express themselves, and help manage the over-enthusiasm of the more dominant. One democratic approach to selecting facilitators and helping everyone optimise their facilitation skills is the idea of the rotating chair - entourage members take it turns to facilitate meetings (and are given feedback and help by the rest of the group). Apply team logic to working groups. Entourage diversity is low, undervalued and underutilised. Managers can help set the scene for entourages to self-govern more productively. Encouraging groups to identify the different styles and expertise of individual members, and their key, complementary, roles 4To the whole organisation Perform a knowledge-sharing audit. Our report contains a simple questionnaire and a process to facilitate a conversation with one or more people (starting with yourself!) Ensure the organisation knows who knows. Captured in formal meetings, such as appraisals, manager-employee dialogues should generate clear reports of employee knowledge areas and development needs. This can provide formal learning architects (including HR practitioners) with a rich resource to create address books of knowledge practitioners,and make these available internally. Ensure the organisation knows what those people know. Employee knowledge capital can enrich organisational knowledge banks and provide content for broader learning platforms such as formal training programmes. If they have access to reports regarding the knowledge employees say they need to develop, learning architects can design more relevant development paths. Break down the barriers. We see a lack of crossfertilisation beyond direct entourages towards other individuals or groups, learning functions and top management. How can learning responsibles and top managers transform themselves from observers to promoters? Beyond the content of their knowledge, how can you ensure that informal learning actors are identified as teachers and trainers, and help them to take their place on the stage of your formal learning theatre? 5And a final word in your e -ear Beware the e-panacea. E-learning is increasingly seen by organisations as a vital component of knowledge exchange. Yet the talk is not reflected by the walk of informal knowledgesharers. It is important to match the right e-tools to different content-types and purposes. It is equally important to be realistic about the challenges, costs and limits of e-tools. These are not, yet, a global substitute for face-to-face interaction - the most natural and complex form of human exchange and learning. Link up different media. The importance of faceto-face space in no way diminishes the value of virtual and user-friendly communication platforms and social media. The value lies in joining up the dots. If a employee database contains 5000 names, the 200 members of the LinkedIn employee group may be a smaller - but highly interactive - network. How can knowledge-sharers integrate the two in their promotional strategy? 6 Krauthammer International

7 Full report Contents People s connectivity with themselves... 8 People s fitness to share knowledge What people really know about their entourage (and vice versa) Who people are sharing knowledge with The most important sources of recognition What people need and get from their line managers What people need and get from other support systems The state of resources Entourage behaviour and output How agile are organisations seen to be? Respondent connectivity to their jobs Respondent connectivity to their organisations Respondent performance Krauthammer International

8 1 The individual as knowledge agent People s connectivity with themselves If employees are the prime agents of knowledge-capital sharing, both as knowledge sellers and buyers, then it makes sense to place those agents at the very beginning of the knowledge-sharing story. How strong are their foundations? How well do they know themselves? Awareness rating on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = hardly aware of the factor, and 5 = highly aware. The graph displays compiled scores of 4 and 5. The difference between our intention to share our knowledge and actually doing so in an effective way depends on a vital driving factor motivation. What is motivation, exactly? Whilst there is no commonly accepted definition, motivation can be seen as a force that compels us to do what we do. It is made up of three components direction, effort and persistence 5 We can argue that motivation is supported by our self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977) the belief that we can do something well. This belief is a powerful factor in our performance 6 Knowledge-sharing is an essential way of helping people feel valued and interested in their work, by showing them that they are an essential link in the chain. a French Area Manager said, indicating the importance of knowledge-sharing for people s self esteem. Yet is probably fair to conclude that self-efficacy in doing something rather depends upon knowing what that something is. What do we find? 5 Arnold, J. Work Psychology. Understanding Human Behaviour in the Workplace (2005, ed. 4): Prentice Hall 6 Sonnentag, S. Psychological Management of Individual Performance (2002): Wiley 8 Krauthammer International

9 When it comes to their overall motivation, around 90% of people have a pretty clear idea of what drives them professionally and privately. However, they are far more aware of the present than the future. People are more clear about their core values in life, (85% know what they stand for) than about their direction or mission in life (Only 61% really know where they are headed.) When we examine people s professional domain, we can perhaps start to understand why their mission in life is less than clear to them, because here, knowledge begins to drop sharply. Work occupies at least 50% of our time. Yet when it comes to the kind of value they add to their organisation, or their job description, around 70% are clear - meaning that a significant minority may be feeling slightly lost. When it comes to people s knowledge capital, the essence of our study, 72% of people are clear on what constitutes this. Capital needs to be maintained and enhanced, however, and 64% know what they need to do to further enrich themselves ( the kind of knowledge I need to develop ). Knowledge-sharing demands an ability to transmit and transfer. 68% of people have a clear idea on what their communication strong points are. Later we will see how confident they are about their ability to share knowledge with others. Knowledge-sharing is an essential way of helping people feel valued and interested in their work, by showing them that they are an essential link in the chain. French Area Manager Management messages 1Install coaching - based on meaning, willingness and ability. The belief that we can do something well is a powerful factor in our performance. Yet around one in four of your employees is potentially unsure of a range of performance-related factors. From the basic such as their job description or knowledge capital, to the more aspirational the value they add to the organisation and what they need to know to develop further. For managers, these elements create a powerful platform for personalised coaching and employee development, helping to establish a clear sense of meaning, willingness and ability. 2Ensure the organisation knows who knows. Captured in formal meetings, such as appraisals, manager-employee dialogues should generate clear reports of employee knowledge areas and development. This can provide formal learning architects (including HR practitioners) with a rich resource to create address books of knowledge practitioners and make these available internally using search engines, for example. Yet, to what extent is this resource really leveraged? To what extent do employees know who knows? 3Ensure the organisation knows what those people know. Employee knowledge capital can enrich organisational knowledge banks and provide content for broader learning platforms such as formal training programmes. And if learning architects have access to reports regarding the knowledge employees need to develop, they can design development paths that respond to the needs employees themselves express. As long as these match the strategic direction of the organisation. As knowledge agents, seven out of ten people have solid foundations. This leaves a signficant minority in a rather grey zone. 9 Krauthammer International

10 People s fitness to share knowledge What risks do people associate with sharing knowledge? How competent do they really feel to do it? Given these attitudes and beliefs, how proactive do they consider themselves to be, in practice? Rating on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = strongly disagree, and 5 = strongly agree. The graph displays scores of 1-3, indicating disagreement with the statements, or doubt. Beliefs The kind of knowledge capital owned by the respondents to our survey is relatively evenly spread over a range of areas. From behavioural practice, such as management and sales, to knowledge of company products and services, of company systems, processes and procedures. From theoretical or technical expertise in IT, finance, marketing, to creative processes such as design or copywriting (around 10% of the time). It is every employee s responsibility to maintain and share his or her knowledge. a respondent from the Netherlands told us. If so, and given the wealth of capital they report, what are people s underlying beliefs (and possible fears) about passing it around? Do they seek, deep down, to protect their knowledge as they might protect more tangible forms of wealth? And, if we consider the marketplace of knowledge-sharing, how important an element of personal brand equity is knowledge capital? Researchers have examined salespeople s negative perceptions of sales automation. Amongst other features, these systems give the entourage and hierarchy of salespeople direct access to their knowledge of their customers profiles and purchasing patterns. Yet salespeople view such customer knowledge as a source of competitive advantage over their peers, the researchers suggest. So they tend to resist the idea that this competitive advantage should be taken out of their direct control. 7 Other researchers have raised the idea of salespeople holding their accounts as bargaining chips. 8 And one salesperson responding to our survey added to the salespeople s list of concerns the strictly customised nature of the selling process: Much 'Best Practice' learning, is not in fact 'Best Practice' in all sales situations. What worked for one customer may not work for another. If insufficient care is taken, too much 'cut and paste' is used, which discourages people from thinking about their customers' issues and from generating a tailor-made response. We uncover some rather negative perceptions about the consequences of sharing their knowledge, related to people s trust in the reactions of their environment. 7 Honeycutt et al, (2005). Impediments to Sales Force Automation: Industrial Marketing Management 34, Trailer, B., Dickie, J. (2006). Understanding What Your Sales Manager Is Up Against: Harvard Business Review, July-August issue 10 Krauthammer International

11 We find that employees in general not just salespeople - have some rather negative perceptions about the consequences of sharing their knowledge, and these are related to their trust in the reactions of their environment. Informal learning only works when the chemistry between people is right, one Business Development Manager told us, and a Sales Director agreed, stating that positive emotions are fundamental. This positive chemistry is in need of a catalyst. 46% of people fear that people may plagiarise their knowledge capital or even use their knowledge against them. A considerable minority (17%) suspect they will actually be penalised or sanctioned if they spend work hours sharing their knowledge. Knowledge-sharing is a state of mind that needs to be installed and maintained, said a Sales Manager from France. Not easy, because it is linked to the very nature of an individual, facing our fears or personal demons. Perhaps to ringfence and safeguard their activities, 77% of people believe that knowledge-sharing should be a formal part of their job description (21% say this is already the case). At the present time, however, neither resources nor managerial support are up to the task, as we shall see later. In the same vein, 21% of people disagree that sharing their knowledge capital will preserve or enhance - their internal market value. It s a state of mind that needs to be installed and maintained. Not easy, because it is linked to the very nature of an individual, facing our fears or personal demons. French Sales Manager Management messages Check your own beliefs and how they are coming across. We will see later that 64% of people think their managers believe in the value of informal learning. Are you one of those managers? And, as a manager, to what extent have you consciously examined your personal beliefs about the value of knowledge-sharing? To what extent are you transmitting these, whether positive or negative, consciously or unconsciously, to your employees? Install trustbuilding messages and actions. Your employees trust in the consequences of sharing their knowledge may well be fragile. What can you do to bring about a positive mindshift? To transform people s vulnerability about sharing knowledge capital into an understanding that doing so can have a positive effect on their brand equity their added-value to their organisation? We invite you to read on, since this report contains some important clues. It is every employee s responsibility to maintain and share his or her knowledge Dutch respondent. 11 Krauthammer International

12 Ability Rating on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = very difficult and 5 = very easy. The graph displays compiled scores of 4 and 5. We're beginning to feel the first signs of change. Perhaps these are driven by sheer necessity? In any event, this kind of knowledge transmission demands a certain level of...learning! so says a French-speaking respondent. Indeed. As anyone struggling with a powerpoint presentation knows, the basic request to keep it short and simple can be anything but. To illustrate the point, we recommend a quick (and fun) visit to: Its author, Jesse Desjardins, suggests that a one hour presentation can take at least 30 hours of preparation time. Meanwhile, the ASTD forum 9 has indicated that the time needed to develop a non-technical training ranges from between 10 to 80x the length of the programme. This means that it takes at least 10 hours to create a 1 hour training module. And the case for sharing knowledge clearly (rather than dumping it upon an unsuspecting audience) is widely appreciated. According to Desjardins, 86% of top executives say that communicating with clarity directly impacts their career and income (source: Identifying and summarising the key points of knowledge scores the most highly of all the knowledge-sharing skills we asked about - around 70% of respondents find it easy to do. So that, if knowledge-sharing is like preparing a meal, most people can at least identify the ingredients. Cooking the knowledge to create an appetising meal is rather more difficult. Around 60% of respondents say they find it easy to make it their knowledge digestible. Actually being creative is hardest of all. Only around 50% of people find it easy to spot patterns in different information sources (lateral associations), or find deeper insights. And fewer still can effortlessly make their knowledge inspiring for others. Being inspirational (and credible) is helped if we are able to easily retrieve key points and insights from memory. Yet around 40% of people often have to scratch their heads, it appears. Why are people having such trouble? Later we will see that a lack of time is a blockage to knowledgesharing. Could this be leading people to solve problems in the quickest (and perhaps not the most original) way, using rote algorithms? 10 And could the ceaseless flow of information be overloading people s memory banks? 9 American Society of Training and Development 10 Amabile, T.M. (1998). How To Kill Creativity: Harvard Business Review, October issue 12 Krauthammer International

13 Management messages 1Help people to adapt to their audience and interact with it. The step from simply informing an audience to inspiring it is a difficult one for knowledge-sharers to take. An essential aspect of didactics can help them progress from the dull to the delightful and this is adaptability. Adaptability means identifying and responding to the particular learning styles of an audience. Are we asking recipients to listen, when they would prefer to read? Are we asking a mature audience thought-provoking questions, or spoon feeding them with the answers? Are we asking lovers of facts to respond to intuition or creativity? Or vice versa? Whatever the preferred learning style, to what extent are we facilitating an interactive dialogue, rather than a one-way broadcast? Delivering knowledge can undoubtedly add value to an audience. Doing so in an interactive way can generate new knowledge and create new value. If we compare knowledge-sharing to preparing a meal, people find it easier to identify the ingredients than to make the meal digestible or inspiring. 2Help people to be authentic. As every student who has doodled and dozed through a lecture knows, being a firm believer in the value of our knowledge doesn t guarantee our ability to inspire people with it. Nor does a firm belief in our own credibility or authority. Yet self-belief, even passion, is essential, if combined with adaptability and interactivity. Returning, therefore, to the point of self-efficacy, (the belief we can do something well) how warmly confident are your direct reports feeling? We're beginning to feel the first signs of change. Perhaps these are driven by sheer necessity? In any event, this kind of knowledge transmission demands a certain level of...learning! Frenchspeaking respondent. 13 Krauthammer International

14 Proactivity Many people lack confidence in the positive outcomes of sharing their knowledge. They even fear the consequences of doing so. Yet, we find, they are feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. Quite simply, all the respondents to our survey (except one lone player!), are up to something. How spontaneous and proactive are they being? In answer, we find that 73% are either sharing their knowledge on a formal, regular basis, or actively organising the activities of other people ( organising others is the highest level of proactivity on the scale used). Around 30% need more encouragement - they share when reminded or called upon to do so. And still, they respond positively to the request. In terms of the documentation people create to present their knowledge, reports are the most frequently cited (51% say they create these often or most of the time), followed by procedural or technical manuals and presentations (28%). Tests (14%) and articles (16%) are the least-often created. Management messages 1Enjoy the good news, and build on it! Everybody is sharing knowledge to a greater or lesser extent. Ask, how proactively are your employees doing it? How can you help them become more entrepreneurial? This survey contains indicators, and we invite you to read on. 2Beware the e-panacea. E-tools are increasingly seen by organisations a vital component of knowledge exchange, yet the talk is not reflected by the walk of knowledge sharers. It is important to establish the fitness for purpose of e-tools for different kinds of content. It is important, too, to be realistic about the challenges, costs and limits of interactive media. It is not, yet, a global substitute for the most natural and complex form of human exchange and learning face to face interaction. Far fewer people are regularly creating interactive media - such as e-enabled tests, applications, blogs, serious games or podcasts (less than 5%). Continuing the e-theme, we will see later that whilst social media is considered important by 18% of people, only 9% actually find it supportive. When it comes to live group learning, 23% of people engage in classroom workshop and seminar design. Live exchange remains the most popular medium for informal knowledge sharing Echoing the more moderate interest in e-tools, only around 3% produce distance or e-learning tools or design online workshops and seminars.. 14 Krauthammer International

15 What people really know about their entourage (and vice versa) Given the complexity and scope of organisational knowledge-sharing, we chose to focus on those closest to the individuals surveyed their peer entourage. In the first chapter of our report, we checked people s selfawareness. Looking beyond individual borders, how well do people know the core points of their close entourage 11 and vice versa? How intimately connected are people to each other? How well positioned are they to nourish each other s learning? Rating on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = no members of my entourage and 5 = all members of my entourage. The graph displays compiled scores of 4 and 5. Employees as knowledge marketeers According to the UK Chartered Institute of Marketing, marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. Stepping into the busy marketplace of knowledge-sharing, how well placed are its occupants to identify and anticipate the needs of their closest internal customers? 11 We define entourage as peers who depend upon each other closely to do their jobs. Just over half (53%) of respondents numbered the membership of their entourage between 1 and 9. The average entourage size was 4 people, however, entourage size varied widely from this average.

16 Buying Regarding what their peers are actually doing in the organisation, what value they add, and what knowledge they have to bring to the table, respondent awareness is fairly high. Around 70% possess this information about most, or all of their closest co-workers. So that, when it comes to getting knowledge from others, people seem to know what their entourage can bring to them. Whether their entourage will be able to anticipate this, however, is another matter. Because respondents perceive their entourage members as being very unaware of their knowledge needs (only around 30% believe that most or all of their entourage knows this). Indeed in this area they feel they know others better than they feel known (51% claim to know the knowledge needs of most or all of their entourage). Selling People are fairly well aware of the communication strong points of their peers (65%). Knowing this and their weaknesses, should make people better able to read the signals they transmit. Going deeper into the knowledge territory, exploring respondent awareness of what others might need from them, awareness drops. Only around 50% of people claim a good awareness of the knowledge needs or professional motivations of high numbers of their entourage. And only around 20% have a good awareness of their audiences private motivations. This marked difference between professional and private motivation suggests that the boundaries between private and professional motivations are more solidly established than we might have believed. People know what knowledge their entourage can bring them. Whether their entourage knows what they need is another matter. If people are knowledge brands, how healthy do they believe their market positioning to be? How well do they believe people know them? Regarding some important items related to knowledge capital, people feel they know others significantly better than others know them. Only around 60% of respondents believe most or all of their entourage know either what their job description is, or the value they add to the organisation, (whereas around 70% claim they know this about their peers).

17 Who people are sharing knowledge with Continuing the notion of the knowledge-exchange marketplace, who are the people s main client groups? Selling The most important target group for people s knowledge-sharing internally is their direct peer entourage - closely followed by direct reports. A further important group is that of direct hierarchical superiors although it is a significantly less important target than the peer entourage. The management board is a far less important target for knowledge-sharing. And the dedicated HR or learning function is considered a key recipient by only 27% of people, confirming their limited role in informal knowledge exchange. Knowledge is indeed being exchanged between direct user groups, rather than centralised functions or architects. Cross-border knowledge, in terms of other individuals or groups in my organisation is the least important group of all, suggesting that knowledge exchange is a rather cellular activity, contained within functional or project group borders. Rating on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = hardly important and 5 = very important. The graph displays compiled scores of 4 and 5. Knowledge is indeed being exchanged between direct user groups, rather than centralised functions or architects. 17 Krauthammer International

18 Buying Rating on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = hardly important and 5 = very important. The graph displays compiled scores of 4 and 5. When it comes to knowledge acquisition from other groups, the direct entourage is confirmed as the most important source. However, when it comes to buying, as compared to selling, direct hierarchical superiors are more important than direct reports. This makes sense given the role of managers as coaches and mentors. Yet this role extends less often to the management board, suggesting an interruption of top-down knowledge flow. Indeed, top management has some way to go before it begins to assign informal learning the importance it deserves, according to one Human Resources practitioner from Latvia who told us: To promote and popularise the importance of informal learning, top management, first of all, has to be educated about the subject and persuaded to install this approach as a core of internal culture. Once again, the dedicated HR or learning/training function features far less strongly in the informal knowledgesharing landscape, and only a small minority of people look across functional or project borders for their learning. Perhaps more surprisingly, nearly 60% of people see their direct reports as being an important source of knowledge for them, suggesting a distinct bottom-up flow of knowledge-sharing. When it comes to imparting and sharing knowledge, the direct entourage is considered the most important source. 18 Krauthammer International

19 Management messages 1Break down the barriers. We see a lack of cross-fertilisation beyond direct entourages towards other individuals or groups, learning functions and top management. How can learning responsibles and top managers transform themselves from observers to promoters? Beyond the content of their knowledge, how can you ensure that informal learning actors are identified as teachers and trainers, and help them to take their place on the stage of your formal learning theatre? 2Recognise two positive effects of knowledge-sharing relevance and motivation. When people are fully activated and competent, inside expertise is a highly credible source of know-how. Its practitioners possess relevant on-the-job experience and intimate insider knowledge of your organisation. And being recognised as an important knowledge vector can arguably have a positive effect on people s selfesteem and the desire to grow, to enhance their capital and skills. On their self-efficacy, motivation, and, ultimately, performance. To promote and popularise the importance of informal learning, top management, first of all, has to be educated about the subject and persuaded to install this approach as a core of internal culture. Latvian Human Resources practitioner.

20 2 The support The most important sources of recognition The importance of recognition as a performance factor can hardly be stressed enough, 12 especially in the case of informal knowledge-sharing. This can be seen as an organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) performed out of employee goodwill and for which tangible extrinsic rewards, such as payment, are not made. Looking again at the user groups people prioritise in their knowledge-sharing activities, from whom do they most seek recognition? And how well does that recognition meet people s expectations? Rating on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = hardly at all and 5 = very much. The graph displays compiled scores of 4 and 5, and gaps between importance and sufficiency of recognition. Feedback expressed in this survey as recognition - is a form of behaviour reinforcement. It is needed in order to sustain new behaviour (for more on what researchers have written about the subject, please see our article cited below). And it should be given promptly after an event, rather than being postponed to formal encounters. 12 Krauthammer (2009). From suboptimal to systematic. A winning formula for behaviour change? 20 Krauthammer International

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