Our thoughts are that in a perfect business world prescribed altruism could possibly be promoted to individual team members to help them feel free to share knowledge without the stigma of losing the competitive edge, but rather, to selflessly help coworkers, a team, or the overall organization to be as successful as possible. With that, we will explain in more detail how we feel that altruism can help and may even be contagious in the modern day bureaucracy that is the work place.
From burger joints to engineering firms, the selfless sharing of process information can better any group or business willing to coach altruism into their organization from the ground, up. Altruism is defined as an unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others, as well as “benefiting another as an end in itself” (Batson, Lange, Ahmad, and Lishner, 2007,p. 241). Altruism results in an improved affect of the helper, higher levels of trust and moral awareness, increased collaboration, and a deeper sense of “we-ness” or collectivism (Batson, et al.
2007) – all outcomes that organizations are seeking today. Knowledge sharing is an activity through which knowledge (i. e. , information, skills, or expertise) is exchanged among people, friends, families, communities or organizations. (Wikipedia, 2013) In an office environment this could be considered cross-training or on a simpler level just assisting your coworkers and making your company more productive and successful. So how can we successfully introduce altruism into the work environment?
Here is what we propose; first organizations can orient employees to the positive effects of altruism by encouraging them to empathize with others and by providing individuals with developmental activities that help them understand the perspectives and needs of others.
In other words, the organization needs to create and implement actives that involve team building exercises. We believe that creating positive relationships and trust amongst employees will help eliminate the need for knowledge hoarding. Individuals are more likely to share information with someone they can trust or feel close to.
Second, is for leaders to work with employees to create a code of conduct and establish organizational norms of behavior. To reinforce desired conduct, team leaders should provide examples of caring exemplars from the organization’s history or from society. This step would leave individuals with a “warm and fuzzy” that they helped create rules for the organization giving them a sense of pride, therefore, making these rules and codes easier to understand and follow. This also, again creates a sense of unity causing the employees to bond, creating empathy towards one another.
Lastly, organizations that encourage employee involvement in community organizations, and promote mutual understanding within the organization stand a much greater chance of creating a positive, empathetic environment. Creating activities, teaching empathy and encouraging involvement with community organizations are all ways that we can train our employees to assist our organizations to become more successful. But what does this entire concept have to do with knowledge sharing? The reason individuals choose not to share information could be because they are fearful of their completion.
We all know that in order to reach the top we need to stand out from the rest. What better way than to know more than your competition? We feel that in order to eliminate this “fear” we need to establish relationships and trust amongst the organizations’ employees. Once these bonds and trusts have been establish it will decrease the need for so much competition. Allowing for the comport of sharing knowledge with other for the sake of the company’s success allowing all the individuals on the team to succeeded as well.
If we introduce developmental activities, team building exercises, team created codes of conduct and try to create a stronger sense of unity in team environments, our working teams will have a better understanding of one another and genuinely care for each others success. If this behavior exists in an everyday work structure we strongly believe that knowledge hoarding could be a thing of the past. That the fear of competition will no longer be a threat but a reminder that all good leaders must have the confidence that they contributed to the entire success of the team and not just the individual.
Introducing altruism (an unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others) could be the new coaching technique or the new business class taught in colleges. If we want our corporations to run more successfully, then why not introduce a program that teaches leaders and employees these qualities?