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The Challenges Of Employee Knowledge Hoarding And How To Overcome Them

8 mins read

One of the first lessons learned in our childhood was “sharing is caring”. Our parents and teachers encouraged us to share things, knowledge, and other possessions with our friends and classmates. But as you grow old, you see that some of your colleagues tend to hoard the knowledge and not openly share it with other colleagues.

It is important to understand why employees hoard knowledge and what can be done to overcome this challenge. It can be due to job insecurity, lack of trust, or absence of systems. The fact is, knowledge hoarding is a real modern world problem that can cost companies millions of dollars if not handled properly.

In an ideal world, employees are expected to openly share knowledge gained during their professional relationship with the company to help the organization grow its revenue and bottom line. Let us look at the challenges of organization knowledge hoarding and what can be done to overcome these challenges.

Why knowledge hoarding can be detrimental to your organization?

There are various reasons why employees may exercise information hoarding in an organization. It can be unintentional, but it has the potential to dent the organization’s profitability. Here is why knowledge hoarding can be detrimental to your organization:

1. Lack of growth opportunities for employees

There is a limited talent pool in any organization. Any company that does not put in place systems to avoid knowledge hoarding would end up getting the answers from the same set of people in the organization. 

You do need to have subject-matter experts, but you should also follow a system that encourages employees to learn more about the business of the organization. One of the biggest challenges of knowledge hoarding is that you would not be able to help your employees grow into their roles and provide limited growth opportunities for employees.

2. Taking longer to complete tasks 

With an increased knowledge hoarding in the organization, your employees would end up spending more time on tasks that would have otherwise taken them less time with adequate knowledge being shared. 

For instance, the time taken to create regular presentations across departments in the organization for various purposes can be reduced drastically if resources are cataloged properly in a central location.

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3. Loss of knowledge with employees leaving the organization

Attrition is a big problem for companies. If there is no system to share knowledge with other employees, the organization would regularly face loss of knowledge with employees leaving the organization. 

As more employees would leave the organization, there would be a vacuum that would emerge in the day-to-day operations that can impact the long-term growth of the company.

4. Informal channels of knowledge sharing leading to loss of information

If there are no systems in place that encourage employees to share knowledge with a central channel, there would be informal channels of knowledge sharing that would emerge in an organization. 

It can be over WhatsApp, Slack, email, or any other platform that employees use to communicate with each other. While employees get access to the solution at that moment, the knowledge shared over these channels tends to get lost in the other communication that is taking place on the platform. 

It is better to have formal channels like a knowledge management platform that can help keep the resources in a central place.

5. No transparency in the work environment 

With knowledge hoarding, the biggest challenge is that there is no transparency in the working of the organization. Employees are not only expected to share their victories but also the shortcomings and challenges they face in their projects. 

This would help other employees to learn from their mistakes and work more efficiently. With knowledge hoarding, there is a culture of non-transparency that emerges in the organization.

How do overcome the challenge of knowledge hoarding?

You can take a variety of steps to overcome the challenge of knowledge hoarding. Here are a few steps that can help you prevent knowledge hoarding in the organization:

1. Create a centralized knowledge base

One of the best steps that you can take to prevent knowledge hoarding is by making a centralized knowledge base organizing all information and making it accessible to all your employees. 

This central resource can be a knowledge management platform like Knowmax that will help you build resources for your employees that will help them in various stages of a project. It improves the searchability and findability of information while making it actionable and easy to consume.

 2. Create FAQs

One of the best ways to avoid a case of knowledge hoarding in the organization is to create detailed FAQs. This will help all the employees to get to know the various answers to common questions in a structured manner. 

This will also give more time to your top performers to focus on new initiatives instead of helping answer basic queries for others.

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 3. Support multiple formats

It is important to understand that employees are creating and interacting with a variety of file types. It can be an image, audio, video, etc. You need to ensure that the central resource supports multiple formats so that employees can share knowledge in a variety of ways and have more choices. 

4. Reward employees for sharing knowledge

You should create a culture of knowledge sharing in the organization. When you reward your employees for sharing knowledge with their colleagues and helping them perform better, you are creating a culture of transparency and trust. 

The rewards can be in the form of recognition or rewards. These rewards will help employees be proactive in sharing knowledge within the organization

5. Opt for a formal channel

You should opt for a formal channel to prevent knowledge hoarding. Rather than depending on informal channels, you should look at creating a formal channel like a knowledge management portal that will help your employees reach out for these resources, as and when they need them. 

By creating a formal channel, you would be establishing a structure under which employees are expected to share knowledge with each other. 

Concluding

These are possible challenges you may face with knowledge hoarding and the steps that you can take to prevent knowledge hoarding in the organization. It is best to have a knowledge management system powering your actions as it will reduce the chances of knowledge hoarding.

A knowledge management platform like Knowmax can be used to develop the knowledge base, visual guides, and learning management system in the organization. You can create different sets of resources for employees to help them grow into their roles and help drive company revenue. 

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