The learning curve in digital is steep and never-ending. At the recent Manchester Digital Skills Festival employers identified a dedication to learning and professional curiosity as top-ranked characteristics of new hires. Getting to the top in digital is as much about your ability to acquire, filter and apply knowledge as about developing a specific skill.
For SMEs, creating an inspiring and supportive learning culture is crucial in attracting and retaining top-flight talent. Time and resources for formal training can be difficult to find in hard-pressed teams. But effective inhouse knowledge sharing strategies can improve collaboration and communication alongside skills.
Finding the right approach and then being consistent is key. Over recent months I’ve spoken to a number of digital companies about how they encourage knowledge sharing and inspire their staff. Here are a few ideas.
Lunchtime lectures – It’s easy for people to skip these if they’re under pressure, but make an event of it. Order pizza or follow up with an afternoon of activities to encourage people along. Topics can be wide ranging and don’t have to be limited to work. Sharing personal passions builds team relationships too.
Book club – Using a text as the foundation of discussion is an excellent way to get people talking about how to approach particular business issues. Corporation Pop have recently been thinking about project management at their book club. An in-office book swap can also be a good way to expand access to information.
External training – training can be expensive and time consuming, but, if the information is effectively shared with the whole organisation it becomes much better value. Encouraging attendees to report back not only benefits the team, it also develops individual communication and presentation skills.
Freelancers – if you’re regularly hiring in specialists, encourage them to share insights about their area of expertise. You can give your team the knowledge to work better with your suppliers, and you may inspire an as yet undiscovered passion.
Buddies – break down silos from the moment new people join the company by buddying them up with someone from another bit of the business. Unlike mentors, buddies have a more informal relationship and can learn from one another, building a relationship that will hopefully continue well beyond the induction.
Do something for others – Last year, Space 48 ran Mage Titans, a specialist Magento conference. Organising a large scale event for industry not only improves company profile, but it also gives you access to big name speakers and experts who might not otherwise engage with a relatively small team and that influence can prove inspirational.
Fluid teams – Create internal projects (such as social events) and draw together a project team at random from across the organisation. Not only can this improve working relationships, but if projects are focused outside of work it also gives people the opportunity to work in roles they’d never tackle in their day jobs.
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