The Knowledge Pig
Are you a knowledge pig? That means you hog all the knowledge.
Are you the only one who really knows what's going on at your shop? Are you the only one who gets to go to the trade group meetings, the workshops and training sessions? Do you work in secrecy and keep your staff in the dark about why you're doing the things you're doing?
If you answered yes, you might be a knowledge pig!
Sometimes, it's unintentional. Have you ever run a marketing campaign or sales special but neglected to inform the company? Ever run a help-wanted ad but forgot to tell the people who answer the phone? It happens a lot more than you can imagine.
Don't get me wrong; I don't think you're sloppy or that you might be doing any of this on purpose. That is, unless you really are the kind of person who believes in keeping the staff in the dark. Well, are you one of those people?
Why hog all the knowledge for yourself? Most times, I've found that a knowledge pig is a poor communicator, so sharing education has a very low priority. Sometimes, as owners and managers, we can't stand the threat that someone might know as much or even more than we do! It sounds strange because it's not logical. But, it happens.
Many a knowledge pig worries that if he shared the knowledge, his employees might get really smart and then they would want more money. They might even leave! Of course, by keeping them in the dark, they're completely frustrating to the knowledge pig, because they don't know what they should.
Wow! What a Catch-22.
Is it possible that the knowledge pig plays a part in creating his employees' dependency? Most business owners have a large part of their identity wrapped up in their business. Many dream about retiring some day, but do not. This has much to do with identity. They may also be described as parents, spouses, members of a local organization, etc. However, much of who they are is likely invested in their work.
If this knowledge pig I'm describing is beginning to read a lot like you, suck it up and keep reading.
Recognizing Your Identity
It's one thing to declare that you want your life back. It's quite another to look in the mirror and see that it's you stopping your own progress. There are three types of owner identities that are tied to the “Knowledge Pig Syndrome” that can hinder progress. Do you identify with any of these profiles?
- The Guru Pig - “I'm the only one here who really knows the ins and outs of this business. I cringe to think what their work would look like if they didn't check with me first.”
- The Rescuer Pig - “I feel like I have to help every employee with every simple task. I don't know how these people manage to get up in the morning without me!”
- The Fireman Pig - “This place would fall apart without me. I can't even take my family on vacation for a few days for fear that the place would burn down without me there to put out the fire.”
Seeing The Big Picture
Are you the glue that is holding your company together? Deep down, this might make you feel rather important. People depend on you to lead the way, to take control, to share your knowledge. Without you, there wouldn't be a company! But if your goal truly is to gain control of your company (and your life), it's time to start sharing some of that responsibility. And that entails sharing the knowledge and ongoing training. Then, it's up to you to let go of the power.
Why do most of us not like to train people? Let's first discuss the two most obvious reasons:
1. Time. “It takes too much time to train, and I just can't spare it.”
2. Money. “Training is too expensive, and what if I train them and they just leave?”
3. Fear. “I'm afraid to pass on all of my knowledge. If I do, then they might not need me anymore. And if that happens, I could risk losing my identity.”
So, employees act on the limited knowledge they have and they disappoint you. They might want to show initiative and use their common sense. But, that doesn't work because their common sense isn't magically your common sense. Without others at your company knowing what you know, the company isn't going very far. You're choking it to death!
I've found at most companies that the staff is eager to learn something new and something of value. They want to be smarter, they want to do a good job and, most of all, they want a voice in the decision-making. Sharing the knowledge instead of hogging it makes work a lot more fun and helps ensure buy-in.
Go whole hog on sharing the knowledge, and you won't get slaughtered!