One thing I’ve notice concerning organizations that have long tenured employees is that all of the knowledge is bottled up, not to be shared with new comers. When succession planning is not a concern…and when the information “Haves” are not willing to share with the “Have Nots”, chances are that the knowledge and foundation of the company will die or retire with the exiting employee.
Sad really, because one would tend to think that the longer an employee has been with a company, the more they would love it! When I love something, I want it to last. To carry on and prosper when I’m gone. Am I questioning the love some tenured employees have for their organization? Yep. I question it because when information is not shared and passed down, what the “love” actually amounts to is insecurity and a selfish desire for the organization to fail without you. The misguided love fuels the misconception that keeping knowledge under lock-and-key increases one’s job security.
The worst thing that this employee experiences after they leave is that they don’t get that phone call begging for info or for assistance. At that point, they start to think, “Was I really as valuable as I thought?” The answer is yes, but what we have to realize is that to be successful, we have to put our trust in systems, processes, not individual egos. The people in the systems are critical to the execution, but the system has to be strong and sound enough to work for the employees that are remaining.
A perfect example of this is the New England Patriots football team. One philosophy that they preach and practice is that no one person on the TEAM is more important than the TEAM. The moment a player shows that they are more concerned with self, they’re cut. The “Patriot Way” outweighs how great and wonderful any individual thinks they are.
When star quarterback Tom Brady went down with a season-ending injury early in 2008, the #2 quarterback, Matt Cassel, stepped up and helped lead the team to an 11-5 record, hardly missing a beat. Could they have done even better with the star? I’m almost certain they would have. But because a strong system and philosophy was in place, the mentee was trained, knowledgeable and ready to go when his number was called. It was missing a major contributor, their star, but the show had to go on without him because games still had to be played.
To be a real star, it’s not just about how you are performing during the game or while you’re wowing your clients or solving problems like only you can. What makes you a star is how you are sharing that knowledge with those around you. How you are working to help your department or division to solve those same issues in your absence. It’s about how much better you make your teammates. True stars don’t have to worry about whether or not their job will be taken. Job security is not about how much you know, but about how much value you are adding to the team. Hoarding doesn’t add value, so you’re more expendable than you think.
Tom Brady, once healed, was right back at the helm to lead his team. Because his presence off the field was just as valuable to the organization as his game-day performance. He made and continues to turn unknown players into valuable commodities by tutoring and developing…adding value. The actions of true stars prove their worth daily without the need to hoard information and organizational secrets. Let those that are coming behind you have that piece of info or that particular responsibility, as that should free you up to be a star in another needed area, thus truly showing your worth to the organization.
Stop being stingy and start sharing. You might last longer.