Developing an Information Sharing Culture

Last week, I wrote a post called, “Sharing Information on Collaboration” in which I presented my thoughts on the differences between sharing information and truly engaging in collaborative communication.

In that post, I suggested that two types of cultures…a information sharing culture and a collaborative culture…enable great benefits to the workforce, customers and organization if business leaders effectively encourage and manage them. This post will focus on organizations who wish to have a beneficial information sharing culture, and the activities and tools that help them do so.

 

Business leaders can better encourage and manage a positive information sharing culture by doing the following:

 

Identify the culture as it is today and assess if this is something that should be encouraged or changed.

  • When was the last time the workforce was asked/surveyed about their opinions regarding how well and how much information is shared? What did the workforce say?
  • Does the organization have open Board Meetings and, if so, how often?
  • Does the organization have “all staff” meetings and, if so, how often?
  • Are managers having consistent meetings with their whole teams?
  • Does the organization publish a company newsletter?
  • Does the organization use internal media to share information?
  • Does the organization have (and actively utilize) an open door policy?
  • Are the leaders committed to sharing information and being transparent?

(Answers to these questions should give a general idea on the organization’s culture as it pertains to information sharing.)

 

Identify the purpose and/or objectives.

  • Organizational purpose or objectives can be broadly articulated.
  • Project or programmatic purposes should be specifically narrated.

(Please note, if the organization has a general purpose or overall objectives regarding information sharing, leaders need to ensure their own purposes/objectives are consistent and aligned with that of the organization.)

 

Develop the strategy(ies).

  • In the context of sharing information or being transparent “enough,” what activities should be done to engage, inform and educate the audience?
  • What should be done to make sure information flows freely both up and downstream?
  • What should be done to eliminate or prevent any dams in the process?

 

Identify the participants, players and perspectives.

  • For the strategies (activities) above, who are the ideal participants, recipients, or other players? Why?
  • When inviting and/or selecting the individuals, are the perspectives represented well rounded and diverse? (Not only their race, gender, ethnicity, etc. but their tenure, their way of thinking, their communication styles, their learning styles, etc.)

 

Utilize the tools effectively.

  • One-on-one and one-to-many IRL (in real life) meetings
  • Electronic or IRL open communication platforms and methods (chatter groups, email groups, committees, etc.)
  • Audio and video teleconferencing, with or without content presentation tools (mobile device, desktop, training rooms, conference room, etc.)
  • Pod casts or webinars
  • Print or video newsletters
  • Social Media platforms
  • Open Door practices

The tools, or methods and means, are most effective when they match the information being shared in both priority and importance and are appropriate for the audience. For example, a CEO wouldn’t want to use a full town hall meeting for sharing information of little relevance to all staff. Likewise, an email or chatter group targeted for a specific group of individuals is not the best way to share information that affects the entire organization. And finally, a short and timely video from the President put on the organization’s intranet is a great way to quickly disseminate timely company information, but if a majority of the workforce doesn’t have access to it, it is not the right tool to use.

 

Circle back and check on purpose/objectives.

  • Are the goals and objectives being met? How so?
  • Might the success be dependent upon the strategies regarding information sharing? If so, continue!
  • Might the drift or failure be dependent upon the strategies regarding information sharing? If so, do change or adapt them accordingly.

 

Hopefully, the above advice will point you in the right direction of creating a beneficial information sharing culture. Check in next week when I present my ideas regarding creating a collaborative culture.

 

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Heather Kinzie

Heather serves as the Director of Consulting Services for The Strive Group. Bringing more than 20 years of organizational and workforce performance experience with her, she knows all too well that ineffective communication and collaboration often hinder business success. She recognizes there is a plethora of hardware and software solutions/tools available and is determined to learn as much about them as possible while sharing physical offices with her sister company, The Chariot Group. Join Heather as she shares her “ah ha” moments in her blog, “From Here to Epiphany” and gain from her other insights into how you, your team or your organization can better improve team and organizational performance. Read Heather's full bio.

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