More and more people in management now days do not believe that their job is for life. It’s not just people in management who believe this. When I was a kid, my father was a textile chemist from when he left school to the day he retired. He moved countries as well as continents and always stayed in the same field. He shared his knowledge with whomever he felt needed it or was asked to. He had nothing to lose by doing that as he knew he was invaluable to the companies that he worked for. That I think is a thing of the past.
The reason this is happening is probably because a lot of companies expect loyalty but do not return loyalty to their employees. So they start to think that knowledge is power and don’t pass on their knowledge and experience to others because they feel threatened and do not believe their companies hold them in the highest regard. In my father’s day, his companies held on to him and knew he was valuable to them. He was head hunted all the time and the companies he worked for knew that. Most looked after him very well. Until, the early 80′s came along and the corporate world changed dramatically. After 10 years of loyal service to one company, they let him go within one week of being eligible to get his long service leave. He wasn’t the type of man to take the matter to court because in those days, it was a lot more difficult to take action against your employer if you think you have been treated unfairly. Not many years after that, he retired very disillusioned with the business world.
The problem of knowledge hoarding is undoubtedly compounded by the use of more and more temps in key roles within a company. If you have any say in that as a manager, don’t let key positions be filled by too many temps. They tend to gain the knowledge and experience by being like professional parasites as such and move on to bigger and better jobs.
If you don’t want your staff to just gain as much knowledge and experience they can from you or your company and then when something better comes along just leave, then it can start with you. Make the workplace a relaxed and friendly place for them to be in. Foster a culture of cooperation and above all else, share your knowledge and experience with them. You can’t help the fact the some will leave when an opportunity comes their way but you can stop the feeling that a lot have that their company doesn’t care about them and that they are replaceable. Make it a place where they can learn and gain experience and confidence in whatever it is that your company does. If you haven’t got one already, suggest setting up an intranet that is accessible from all the terminals in your workplace. That is an invaluable tool for people to go and get training and information to increase their skill set. It’s a small thing but it makes your staff feel secure and realize that the company does care about them and wants them to grow with the company.
As a manager, it starts with you. You can either have an office full of professional parasites who will suck all the knowledge and experience from you and move on to use it in another company, or you can have staff that actually want to be there and learn and grow with you. The only way to do that is create a friendly yet professional environment and encourage your staff to gain new skills so that they can grow as the company grows and hopefully have a profession for life.