Knowledge employees are hired for some knowledge or skill that they have. Throughout their employment this skill grows through training and experience. In parallel with this growth there is a progression within the company where the employee gains status and respect among peers for this knowledge and skill. This respect sometimes leads to promotion and new titles as well as other status symbols and perks.
In such situations, hoarding the knowledge and basking in the status is the greatest temptation that many have. This is seen as a way to ensure that the employee remains needed and relevant to the company. It is a way of self-protection and of ensuring that the employee is indispensable and that the company is completely dependent on this person. This is a great risk from a company perspective. Although the employee seldom sees it, this is also a great risk from the employee’s perspective as there will be no future growth and just stagnation.
The real questions to ponder in these situations are “What is the employee doing with this knowledge? How is it being shared and spread?“. The knowledge that the employee has acquired and grown over time is actually a company asset that needs to be protected. It should be shared and spread through the staff. In sharing such knowledge the employee gains more respect from peers and does not lose status. What changes, however, is the aspect of indispensability. The employee is no longer indispensable because the company and staff depend on him/her for having a chunk of knowledge but the employee is now highly respected and looked up to since s/he is the fountain of knowledge and experience for all employees. The way the person is looked at changes from dependence to respect and the company is also safer in the knowledge that if this employee goes on holiday then business can continue to operate smoothly… a win-win for all.