In our previous blog posts, we have discussed the importance of developing a knowledge sharing culture. It starts with leadership, and it ends with the collective buy-in of the team from bottom to top. Because knowledge sharing is such a communal concept, it is critical that the engagement level spans each member of the organization. But what happens if a team member doesn’t want to buy in? Can that derail the entire knowledge sharing culture the organization worked to develop? It can, but it doesn’t have to. Here are four ways to counter a resistant employee:
1. Lead by Example.
Leading by example needs to come from the top, yes, but it also requires individual leadership from members within the organization who aren’t necessarily in management roles. From young children all the way through adulthood, peer pressure has the possibility to transform attitudes and drive change. Positive reinforcement from peers can often be even more influential than a similar message from someone in a leadership role. When confronted by a team member or individual resistant to joining the knowledge sharing culture, sometimes the best approach is to simply ensure that the rest of the team is fully engaged and active within that culture. When the individual sees knowledge sharing in action, they will be more apt to follow suit.
2. Ask Questions with Intention.
It’s possible that the team member who isn’t engaging in knowledge sharing is hesitant or uncomfortable due to a lack of understanding. One of the quickest and easiest ways to facilitate the exchange of knowledge is to ask questions. Engage the team member by mining his or her organic knowledge with questions that require responses. Journalists are taught to ask open-ended questions in interviews that do not allow the interviewee to answer with just a “yes” or “no.” Employ the same attitude with the reticent team member by asking open-ended questions designed to elicit thorough and thoughtful responses.
3. Talk Less, Listen More.
Sometimes, we get into the habit of engaging in conversation just to make our viewpoints heard. When this happens, it throttles the exchange of information, and those participating in the conversation end up frustrated and will shut down. If you’ve encountered someone in your organization who seemingly isn’t participating in the knowledge culture, perhaps it’s time to give them a second look. Talking less and listening with intent – listening to understand, rather than listening to respond – could encourage the individual to be more open to productive conversation.
4. Leave Them in the Dust.
If a team member simply refuses to be an active participant in the knowledge sharing culture being cultivated within an organization, despite the best efforts of leadership and peers, it might be time to move on. In today’s workplace, with a workforce transitioning to younger, more collaboration-oriented employees, an individual that is intentionally bucking company culture will stick out. Peers will notice, leadership will notice and there is a strong chance that the individual’s work will suffer. Understanding that knowledge sharing relies on a healthy community and an engaged team means that after a certain point, it truly does not make sense to struggle with an employee that has no interest in collaborative problem solving and information exchange.
We’ve all encountered a team member who needs a little extra prodding to get with the program. What kinds of solutions did your organization employ to facilitate engagement?