In an era when businesses put a high price on knowledge, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some workers are “knowledge-hoarders”—steadfastly resisting all efforts to cooperate in enterprise-wide knowledge management programs. The reaction is predictable, considering the past several years’ repeated rounds of layoffs, which have prompted workers to hoard information, take individual credit for team accomplishments, and engage in “cover your derriere” behavior in an effort to become “indispensable.”
What’s a manager to do? Start with yourself—many employees take their cue from management attitudes, so it’s important to share information, award credit where credit is due, and display collaborative, group-centered behavior. In order to create an atmosphere where sharing is valued, you can ask people to relate instances where knowledge-sharing enabled them to do their jobs more effectively. These could also be collected and included in a departmental or organizational newsletter. Staff members could do “mini-workshops” at staff meetings, in which people share “best practice” tips—these could also be collected and made available online in a “blog” or other format. Make it safe to share—ensure that the culture of the group and organization are receptive to people who might deviate from the norm. Acknowledge and reward sharing behavior in performance evaluations, and make knowledge hoarders accountable for their non-cooperation. Finally, deal with the “unnecessary meeting” problem, which saps the energy and motivation from even the most dedicated employees!