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Information hoarders: let’s find out if there is a Knowledge Hoarding problem in your company


Knowledge Hoarding proves to be a problem for all companies.

Some employees hoard information because it makes them feel authoritative and safe in the workplace because their coworkers must address them to ask for advice or procedures that need to be done.

However, it could also be that knowledge sharing and collaboration are not fostered enough by corporates themselves, and best-practice transfer is not implemented among employees.

Whatever the cause may be, the result is always the same: productivity suffering.

What happens when there is a Knowledge Hoarding problem in a company

When sharing information among colleagues is difficult (or knowledge is scattered, disorganized, and incomplete), employees can't communicate and collaborate efficiently within the company's departments. Knowledge Hoarding represents, therefore, a problem for the entire company.

Consequently, work gets slower and slower: it is always harder to find what we need to carry out proceedings, archive files or provide customers with answers. We waste time searching for dispersive sources or we open a ticket to “pass the buck” to a colleague, weighing down his workload. This means that we slow down the productivity of the company itself.

As a result, relationships with customers worsen: let’s think, for example, of every time that a Customer Care Manager has to coordinate Service Client operations. He/she has to make sure that all the operators provide consistent and accurate information to the customer to ensure his/her satisfaction. Then, everyone must have easy and immediate access to knowledge, to reduce the time spent researching and optimizing resources.

However, it may also happen that information is missing in the documentation. If that is the case, we talk about "Knowledge Gaps", and it is important to know immediately if the information we are looking for exists, or if it has to be created.

For this reason, all business departments must have a single and centralized access point to the entire Knowledge Base: developing a Knowledge Management System makes it easier to retrieve even the badly organized or hidden information, and this assures positive results in terms of work efficiency. 



Who qualifies as a Knowledge hoarder?

A knowledge hoarder can be anyone within a company who possesses valuable information or expertise but refuses to share it with others. They may exhibit certain behaviours that indicate a reluctance to collaborate or help their colleagues. Here are six signs that could identify someone as a knowledge hoarder:

1. Reluctance to share information: Knowledge hoarders often withhold information from their colleagues, making it difficult for others to access important knowledge or complete tasks efficiently.

2. Refusal to delegate: Instead of empowering their colleagues by sharing responsibilities, knowledge hoarders prefer to keep tasks and decision-making authority to themselves, hindering the growth and development of others.

3. Lack of documentation: Knowledge hoarders may fail to document their processes or expertise, making it challenging for others to learn from their experiences or replicate their successes.

4. Resisting collaboration: Knowledge hoarders may resist working in teams or collaborating with others, preferring to work independently and maintain control over their knowledge and expertise.

5. Excessive reliance on personal knowledge: Instead of leveraging the collective intelligence of the organization, knowledge hoarders rely solely on their own expertise, limiting the potential for innovation and growth.

6. Reluctance to learn from others: Knowledge hoarders may dismiss or undervalue the knowledge and expertise of their colleagues, refusing to learn from them or incorporate their ideas.

To address the issue of knowledge hoarding, companies can implement several solutions. Encouraging a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration is crucial. Organizations can incentivize knowledge sharing, provide training on effective communication and collaboration, and implement knowledge management systems to facilitate the dissemination and access to information.

By recognizing and addressing knowledge-hoarding behaviors, companies can foster a more collaborative and productive work environment, where employees feel empowered to share their knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the entire organization.

6 signs and solutions to the information hoarding problem

If you are still unsure whether your company may have a knowledge hoarding problem, here are 6 possible signs that could signal this and that you may want to keep it under control. No worries, we will give you solutions as well!

1. Expertise-location problem

There are few people “knowledge hoarders” that always answer repetitive questions: we are not referring to the experts, which every company must rightly have. But if there is a group of people who are forced to slow down their work to answer the same questions over and over again, then there is a problem that needs to be solved. 

Solution: creating a Q&A database, easily accessible from a single access point, would solve the lack of circulation of this information, making it accessible for all and easy to update. In addition, identifying experts in each industry and connecting with colleagues across the company helps simplify the dissemination and sharing of information.

2. Search and discovery tools missing

Creating a presentation seems like a titanic job: searching and putting together information, images, descriptions, etc. takes too much time and imagination.

Solution: you can implement tools that allow employees easily search for content and receive useful suggestions. For example, a central database to which both Sales and Marketing employees can access would make it easier to share and find material between these two departments and help them to solve the problems they have to deal with.

3. Knowledge retention problem 

When an employee leaves, knowledge is lost: especially implicit and best-practice knowledge, which must be passed on to someone else before an employee retires or leaves the company.

Solution: With a centralized system, such as a Knowledge Management System, where all this information is recorded and collected, anyone can access and learn from it. It is also essential to develop policies and spread a corporate knowledge-sharing culture to promote the sharing of information across the organization. This will prevent the loss of important business knowledge.

4. Lack of digital-information-sharing tools

Information is usually shared via personal communication: every time you receive an important document not only do you waste time looking for it in your (probably very full) email inbox, but you also have to forward it to each new team member.

Solution: A knowledge-sharing solution could instead avoid this waste of time by making documents and information readily available to everybody. Moreover, thanks to Artificial Intelligence, today it is possible to use technologies such as NLP applied to knowledge management systems to quickly find relevant information.

5. Weaknesses in the onboarding process

New employees are forced to follow hours and hours of theory sessions: whenever a new employee joins the team, it usually takes months before he can efficiently contribute to the usual workload of the company. He must indeed attend seminars in order to be trained to understand all the company's procedures. However, when asked to put into practice what he has supposedly learned, it is not unlikely that he has to ask colleagues for help.

Solution: To avoid new team members constantly turning to their colleagues to retrieve the information they need, it is necessary to implement information sharing in the onboarding system, so that employees can autonomously find in the knowledge base what they are looking for, whenever they want. Since knowledge sharing allows constant free access to information, employees are always updated on the latest information as well.

6. Distrust of the "community of practice"

Transparency is not a value in the corporate culture: enhancing only the dimension of individual success will not lead to improve failures and shortcomings.

Solution: A company culture that aims at transparency tries not to focus so much on individual performance, it instead tries to learn from experiences, using this knowledge to develop new plans and new ideas, creating real communities among employees.

Starting to put knowledge sharing into practice means building a climate of innovation and development - including technological ones - to foster collaboration and growth of both the individuals and the organization. This improvement is made possible also thanks to the implementation of Knowledge Management software.


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