Time is running out for information hoarders
Hoarding information used to mean job security. Knowledge and experience is important information that when hoarded and carefully strategically distributed can indeed make you the “go-to” person. Question is for how long this can continue. It is most certainly not forever.
Toxic work places are a thriving and fertile ground for information hoarders. That is not the case at places that foster a safe work environment with plenty of transparency. More and more organizations buy into this collaborative management style. Millennials, who often get a bad rap as being difficult employees (undeservedly so, but that is worth another post), are actually becoming more and more picture children for sharing. We can learn so much from them as they have learned early on that life and work is about sharing what you know and own.
Sharing is the new hoarding: When you share what you know and you help train others it helps elevate the people you train, it helps elevate the organization, and it helps elevate you. Everyone can be a winner in this environment. It trims out a lot of waste and friction within an organization. Heaven forbid, it is actually fun to work this way! Imagine that!
This past weekend I attended my first “unconference” held at the University of Pennsylvania. 30 people coming from industry, academia, students, faculty, business leaders, and in general from all walks of life came together sharing one thing: their love for organizational dynamics. What made it an unconference was that the agenda was empty other than having 3 breakout session with 3 groups each. The topics for presentations or discussions had to be volunteered by the attendees. And the attendees facilitated the 9 group sessions that ensued. The amount and wealth of knowledge shared that morning was almost overwhelming. At the end of the event everyone agreed that it would be great if there could be repeat events. This is sharing at its best.
Of course there are limitations to information sharing. There are trade secrets, patents, competitive advantages, etc that would dictate the type and amount of sharing that can occur. Within those boundaries though in the departmental setting of companies – especially smaller ones – sharing of knowledge will outperform organizations who foster, or blissfully ignore their toxic information hoarder peers and competitors.