Knowledge is like money. It’s useless if it’s not flowing.
Before launching into this post, everyone should go read the post that inspired it: Alyzande Renard’s brilliant piece on LinkedIn, titled Alyzande’s Tips for Getting a Job in 30 Days. Blunt, sweary version.
I’m excited about her post because it’s direct, frank, honest, and in your face. She’s directing everyone who’s on the job search (and I know it’s a lot of you, this year) to GET REAL about your expectations, about the process, and about the actions you choose to take. In addition to the practical, actionable advice she gives, she recommends that job seekers use this opportunity to get in the habit of sharing knowledge – online, in person, in interviews… because it’s through knowledge sharing that people really get a sense of who you are and what you can contribute.
Knowledge is like money, she says, citing the World Domination Conference guy… it’s useless unless it’s flowing. Your knowledge isn’t going to earn anything for you unless you’ve got it working for you… and that include information that you have that would be valuable to others, not just the “book knowledge” in your head. And to work for you, the knowledge has got to be shared.
I’ve encountered so many people who hoard knowledge, control channels of communication so they can control a narrative, or rely on citing “their professional experience” so they don’t have to explain the rationale behind their own recommendations. All of these habitual behaviors are fear driven cop-outs… and I’ve fired each of these people, at least once (but don’t worry, not without a lot of direct appeals first):
- The knowledge hoarder believes that their worth is tied up in the repository in their head. Why should they share information with you? If you have it, then the information won’t be special or unique. If you have it, the company has no reason to keep them employed. [As the employer, I’ve fired knowledge hoarders because losing the information in their heads is often less costly than the effort required for others to detect it and get it out. Think about that one if you’re a knowledge hoarder.]
- The narrative controller is insecure and uncertain of their own skills, especially when it comes to understanding what other people want. If they control communication channels, they can control the narrative to convince you that others want what they want to deliver, and then they can tune their work to something they know they can deliver. I call this the “Moses on the Mountain” scenario because these people go directly to the client or the boss, and come back to the team as the single authoritative channel of information. But what if they got it wrong? You’ll never know, because there were no witnesses to when they got the commandments from above. Any time you’re the only person receiving communications and interpreting them on behalf of others, you are in the danger zone. Bring at least one other person with you! [As the employer, I’ve fired narrative controllers because the cost of losing them was less than the cost of the errors incurred from their desire to control the narrative. I need reality, not interpretation… and reality comes from multiple people, independently interpreting, and coming up with shared results.]
- The expert who relies on professional experience, you’ll find, tends to make recommendations without backing them up with evidence. They want you to believe the recommendation simply because of who they are. But the true experts, I’ve found, are the ones that share the evidence… even without you asking! They’re either proud of their reasoning, or they know they might not have the recommendation totally right (or maybe both). As a result they want to let you in on the information they have… that way you can make your own judgment. You build trust together when you come to a similar judgment, or when your judgments are different and you use the difference to build a stronger case together. [As an employer, I’ve fired experts-without-evidence because I get tired of trying to pry the evidence for their recommendations out of their heads. Guess what? A lot of times they don’t actually even have any evidence, and have made their decision based on a gut feel of dubious value.]
Now, notice… I said it’s important to share knowledge, and by association, to share information. Try not to share misinformation. If you’re new to a role, or still early in your career (like first 10 years early), find some people with more experience who you trust who you can run “knowledge” by before you share it with your team or workgroup. Heck, I’m coming up on my 29th year of actual real professional work, and even I have my trusted experts (some of whom have much less experience than me, but are super smart) – I run things by them before I share with groups. (“Do I have this right? Is there something I’m missing, or something I could explain better?”)
I’m tired of seeing cycles of misinformation… people with very good intentions sharing information (especially technical) that’s not only blatantly wrong, but misleading, with the easy potential to infect newbs. It’s easy to learn, and super difficult to unlearn… ANYTHING.
Share your knowledge… and information. Share actual knowledge. And go read Alyzande Renard’s post called Alyzande’s Tips for Getting a Job in 30 Days. Blunt, sweary version... if you’re not on the job market now, you’ll need to bookmark this for later.