Various artists sing Kissing Strangers

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Job security by hoarding knowledge?

I have worked many places where people have the idea that if they hoard knowledge, they will be indispensable at work. I have seen this to both work and not work.

On the work side, many companies are shy to fire people they believe have special skills that are hard to find in the marketplace. I have seen terrible employees who are lazy, mean and just unpleasant to deal with hold on to jobs for years because of their knowledge.

On the other side, I have seen companies who got rid of people who hoarded their knowledge. They spent whatever it took on consultants or changing systems to bring stability to their infrastructure.

What have I seen the most of? I would say that people who hoard their knowledge tend to get rewarded because most managers would rather deal with pressing problems than problems caused by firing under-performers. I find this fascinating since I believe and do the very opposite.

At every company I have worked I have always documented and shared my knowledge with everyone. I was essential in creating a knowledge base of solutions, and helping others be more efficient by sharing knowledge. I look for opportunities to share what I learn with the team, and I always try to document every piece of what I do in an easily findable place so that others can continue without me.

A recruiter who looks at my resume may say this strategy has not worked for me. It is true that I have worked shorter times at companies that I would have liked, but when companies are having mass layoffs it is nothing personal. I like the fact that I left the company better than I found it, and my employment or non employment at a company doesn’t bear how I feel and think about it. Many companies I have profound respect for what they are doing, and I admire those managers who have to make the tough decisions when layoffs happen.

The last layoff I had I was part of a mass layoff that had 60% of the company let go. In this case when my manager was letting me go I told her that I know that letting people go is difficult and that I am sorry that she had to do this. I said that I will survive, and was more concerned about how she was going to deal with the loss of skills and knowledge that I brought to the organization. Why was I concerned about my boss when I was being let go? It is because I consider a job to be not just a paycheck but an opportunity to make the world a better place. Some places really need who you are, and that place needed someone like me more than ever.

However they let me and others go, and thats ok. I found a better place and it was remarkable that within two days of being let go I had accepted it and moved on. Sure I could have hoarded knowledge and stayed, but that meant I wouldn’t have worked at a better place. Often when we seek to control life, we only end up hurting ourselves.

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