Knowledge is power. Knowledge is precious.
Here are 7 reasons you should protect your knowledge at work:
Your status as the go-to person deserves be recognized.
It is in everyone’s best interest that you maintain control over information, otherwise somebody less qualified could make a costly mistake.
Because your role in the company is so vital, and your list of tasks so numerous, you just don’t have the time or mental space to share what you know.
Not everyone understands your unique ideas, so you may as well keep them quietly to yourself.
Your valuable position in the company would be diminished if someone else learns what you know.
It is an unproductive use of time to teach someone who would only learn enough to be dangerous.
Since many people can’t be trusted, it is simpler for the team to trust in one subject-matter expert (which is you, of course).
Sometimes CMM programmers hoard their knowledge, perhaps because of one of the reasons above.
Granted, there has to be some amount of specialization in the workplace for things to run smoothly. But which is more productive: a scarcity mindset or an abundance mindset?
The Scarcity Mindset
A scarcity mindset is the belief that specialized expertise should be protected. Any sharing of that hard-earned experience would be like draining one’s personal reservoir of knowledge. Complete cross-training would be like bleeding to death. While aiming for “job security”, the scarcity mindset is actually one of insecurity.
This perspective comes with hidden costs. When one person, or a small group of people become inaccessible silos of information, the overall team productivity will be reduced. If a knowledge hoarder is unavailable or leaves the company, those left behind will waste time trying to find answers. Keep in mind that a lot of technical knowledge has an expiration date. When you have a scarcity mindset, you will not learn many new things, so what you know becomes stale, and the value of your work decreases.
The Abundance Mindset
An abundance mindset is the viewpoint that there is an endless supply of new things to learn. There are endless opportunities to grow and help others grow. Learning and teaching are things to be pursued and can become an interesting lifelong adventure.
If you share what you know, the value of your position will naturally grow. Employers appreciate those who take initiative to help others. When you choose to invest in people, you build an abundance of trust.
What About You?
Are you a knowledge hoarder or investor? Which one does your workplace encourage?
Are you afraid your coworkers will do better than you? Or do you want them to succeed?
Ask yourself what you can do today to make a difference. Find ways to reserve margin in your day to make time for investing in others.
If you are a leader, encourage knowledge sharing by your example. Reward and recognize those who invest in others.
Find someone that is interested in what you do and teach them. We all have the opportunity to influence someone. Let them shadow your work. Learning is not confined to a one-time training event, but is an ongoing process.
Document what you know. Make it easy to share knowledge – simple and fast. You could organize a public network folder of shared documents, or a company knowledge base software. Since you will not always be available, think of others who will come after you.
The scarcity mindset is based on mistrust and fear. The abundance mindset believes in encouragement and vision. Every person has value. Every person has unique gifts and talents that are largely untapped. See each person as a valuable contributor to the team.
What can you do to encourage your coworker to a higher standard of excellence? Expect your friend to rise higher than you. It’s OK – givers are the happiest people on earth.
Learn everything you can and share it generously with others.