Why sharing knowledge matters to me?

Gil Yehuda highlighted a potential and plausible threat that people might be less willing to share their knowledge to protect their jobs.

 … these days I’m detecting a threat to this mindset — one that is aided by the recent down-economy.  I speak to many employees in workplaces, and to many people out of work, and I detect a regressive attitude about collaborative thinking.  Employees have lost all loyalty to their workplace and are preparing themselves for a potential layoff.

What results is that employees are more likely to take information and store it in their private web spaces (e.g. Google docs) or in their personal email folders and thumb-drives — waiting for the pink slip.  In this way, they’ll have the information they need for the next job.  And therefore, they are less inclined to share it.

 
But the question is whether this mindset is helpful? Is it worthwhile to hold on a sinking ship or is it better to do our best to keep the ship afloat and get it cruising? 

I shared my experience on the benefits of knowledge sharing as a comment to the blogpost.

I would like to share my experience on this. When I just got my job, I was not known in the company despite my dilligence. Only my immediate boss and a close working group knows what I am doing.

Subsequently, when we embarked on the use of wiki as a knowledge exchange site. I begun to actively share my knowledge. People eventually got to discover my knowledge and competence. I get people coming to ask me for advices. My name became known to the top bosses. And I got several job offers from my ex-colleagues. All because they got to know my talents and positive attitude in work.

It is important to work hard and be competent. But it is also important to let others know too. That’s why advertising is still required for very good products. And in times like this, it is even more important to advertise ourselves.

 
Beside promoting oneself, it is also very important to keep on learning and improving. And the best way to learn is to teach. We discover new and better way of doing things by exchanging ideas and learning from one another. Through the interaction with others, we can also build up the network and relationships with other colleagues in the organization.

And when everyone share their knowledge, the company will get the opportunities to cut down on costs through improvement in productivity and less expenses. In fact, TransUnion got an estimated savings of $2.5 million through sharing their knowledge and experience. Imagine how many jobs can be saved with this amount of money?

I would like to end with what Stephen Covey mentioned in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

  • Dependence is a condition
  • Independence is an achievement
  • Interdependence is a choice 

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3 responses to “Why sharing knowledge matters to me?

  1. I think Gil Yehuda’s point is that when faced with the impending doom of getting RIF, employees will feel that they’re betrayed by the company. In this circumstances, they will feel less incline to share and contribute for the well-being of the company.

  2. Melvin, you are correct, that’s what I meant. I’m not suggesting that knowledge hoarding is a good reaction, I’m suggesting that it is a reaction that is taking place. I speak with many clients who are challenged by getting Knowledge Sharing initiatives to work. But even in places where management sees the value and wants to support the effort (be it in a wiki, forum, etc.) they sometimes fail to understand that they need to create an environment of trust. When employees see that layoffs are taking place, they move their content to their own sites if they can (e.g. Google docs, thumb drives etc.) so that if they get cut, they can take their stuff with them. This is a problem that we have to acknowledge if we are to attempt to solve it.

    Whereas a company benefits from having employees share knowledge, each employee has to make a choice to participate in the act. Those who see value will. Those who work in fear will not. As many of us now work in fear – E2.0 faces a big challenge.

  3. Yup. I agree with your point that people might be unwilling to participate.

    That’s why I shared my experience and hope it will be useful to let them know it will benefit them more if they were to share their knowledge publicly through Enterprise 2.0 and let the top management and their colleagues know about their expertise.

    It is definitely good for the E2.0’s rollout if the management can allay the fears of the employees.

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