The hardest conversation I ever had in my career running knowledge sharing programs (and advising others who are running them) is this. What do you say to someone who believes that sharing their knowledge will make them unnecessary to the organization?

Here is some advice. First, do not address this specific issue in your formal communications. Too many nuances can be lost in an email, announcement or blog post. This conversation needs to be a back-and-forth.

If you do have someone who expresses this concern to you (or you hear that they have expressed it to someone else, use this approach).

1. Acknowledge their concern directly. You can agree that in today’s world, every organization has to be as lean as possible (without compromising a quality customer experience).

2. Separate the knowledge sharing program from reduction in force programs of the past or present. Point out the benefits of knowledge sharing to customers, the organization and, most importantly, to them.

3. Point out that one of the benefits to knowledge sharing is to remove the boring, repetitive work they are doing now. What could they do with this extra time if they didn’t have to answer the same question or look for the same information over and over again.

4. End with a eminently practical statement. Sharing your knowledge does not guarantee you your job, but actively not sharing is guaranteed not to help you.

Have you ever had this conversation before? What did you say?

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