In today’s high tech, fast paced world, it’s all about being a hero. Everyone wants to be known as the ‘expert’ the ‘go-to-guy/gal’ for what the team considers to be most important.  We reward the hero – the one who stayed up through the night to troubleshoot a customer problem; the one who joined a four-hour emergency conference call during their vacation. These are the people who are pulled up on a stage so we can highlight their efforts, praise, and commend. Their efforts are commendable and certainly appreciated, but it doesn’t scale.

After all is said and done, we should ask ourselves:

·       Why was the superhero the only one who had that information during the emergency?

·       Was that problem solved in the past? If so, why wasn’t it shared with the team so we didn’t need to work throughout the night to solve it again?

·       Why do all roads continue to lead to the same few people?  Is it really that they are smarter than everyone else? Or, maybe we, as organizations, need to lay a better framework for our heroes to share their knowledge with the rest of the team?

Perpetuating the hero complex can stall – even derail – the best knowledge sharing initiatives. If we want to be efficient, productive organizations, it is time to re-think how we define our heroes. Now, this isn’t easy, and you may get some resistance from your current heroes.

Knowledge-sharing practices will help overcome that resistance because adopting them requires that everyone contributes, not just the heroes. In fact, who are the new heroes? The ones who document how they solved a problem – or answered a question – so that the next person can quickly find and deliver a solution BEFORE it becomes an overnight exercise. The new heroes are the ones who share information and help us avoid problems in the first place or help us solve them faster.

What do you need to do to create new heroes?

  1. Lay a framework that makes it easy to share, using new or existing tools, wikis, content management systems or just get everyone to agree on a process.
  2. Provide training to your team so everyone understands why and how knowledge sharing benefits everyone.
  3. Create new incentives that encourage the new behaviors.

It may feel good today to be known as the ‘go-to-guy/gal,’ but it will feel even better to have an uninterrupted vacation!

Have you tried to re-define the heroes on your team?  What techniques have you used to identify and reward these new heroes?

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