sharing data at work
Angela Alejandro

Angela Alejandro

When colleagues won’t share their data

One of the most common challenges with the internal adoption of any customer service application is getting meaningful data into the system in the first place. Your employees and colleagues are who you depend on for this information, but how can you ensure overall success?

“What’s In It for Me? (WIFM)”

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “what’s in it for me?” Throughout my own day to day experience as a process architect, this notion comes up repeatedly when it comes to data sharing. I regularly encounter examples where highly skilled and knowledgeable employees resist data entry for even minimal information into the corporate business applications like CRM.  For example, field service representatives working directly with customers often find little to no value in entering their own service ticket detail for the onsite customer work that they complete.  This represents an analytics challenge for such businesses when there later turns out to be a recurring issue that begs for a more strategic solution.  As you might expect, this type of internal behavior is one example of employees’ simply wanting to minimize their own administrative tasks.

However, there is another more subtle reason that is not as widely discussed. I have found that it is generally true in any organization that some employees feel that once their own knowledge is out of their heads, that their value within that organization is somehow diminished.  This is especially true when a new CRM tool or major project rollout is underway. These are the colleagues who typically enjoy being the valued “go-to” experts on your customer accounts. They are very good at their jobs, and they will continue to be so, but perhaps they aren’t so convinced. In these instances, why not try the following approach?

First, create a culture that rewards knowledge sharing

Let’s face it, when you’ve hit some resistance, if knowledge sharing is not measured and linked to some part of compensation, it isn’t going to happen.  That said, it’s good to take a big step back first. Try to focus on ushering in an overall knowledge-centric customer support model that requires specific, standard types of information to be a part of every issue resolution. At every opportunity, and in every training, staff meeting or all hands, explain why capturing specific pieces of information contributes to company goals, team goals and individual goals. Provide concrete examples that illustrate how detailed data capture contributed to success. Publish these examples in company newsletters, intranets, or as posters in the common areas. Over the course of 3+ months, your company culture will begin to shift in the right direction. Those individuals who are impeccable with their data quality will start to set the new bar for others to duplicate.

sharing data at work
Sometimes even the most collaborative teams find that some individuals are resistant to sharing critical data in business applications like CRM

Consider a two-phased approach to avoid the “crowding-out effect,” e.g. overshadowing employees who have always been intrinsically motivated

Phase I of rewarding desired behavior should introduce the concept of a monetary or other type of explicit benefit to highlight exemplary employees’ willingness to do what is best for your organization. As you do this though, be aware that there were always colleagues who were and are intrinsically motivated. Don’t neglect the fact that these individuals do what is best for the business even without someone telling them to do so. As you are looking to encourage this behavior on a much wider scale, ensure that you don’t miss your window of opportunity to recognize those who have always done this.

Phase II then can begin to set the guidelines for who rewards will be distributed. In this way, you’ll ensure that your early adopters aren’t overshadowed by those rushing to change behavior because of extrinsic motivation only. Do all of these things while continuously reinforcing a culture of knowledge sharing, and you can begin to overcome the WIFM hurdle in the future.

Establish Future Metrics and Goals

Lastly, as you begin to see initial improvement in your data capture, you will need to regularly set and reset the bar. As organizational leaders, you will need to dedicate time and effort to the rigor of reporting on and measuring basic goals. Perhaps step 1 might be to encourage data entry where there was none before. Step 2 in goal setting might be to ensure data provided includes specific keywords, numbers or other critical information. Step 3 might be setting a goal to have 100% compliance by Friday of each week.

Your future goals and metrics for data capture will be very specific to your own situation and business context, but they should always be reexamined regularly. After making progress with culture change and compliance, the last thing you want to do is to lose trust when people believe the data is no longer important to the business. Ensure that you are regularly listening to your colleagues, verifying that more complete data capture = better business results, and that data capture that isn’t useful is removed or updated accordingly in your systems and process.

If you’d like to schedule time with us to discuss how to address your specific situation, drop us a line at



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