Developing Your Talent

Develop Your Talent

Is an Information Hoarder Obstructing Your Team’s Performance?

By James Greenway on July 7, 2014

When present in the workplace, anxiety and its sister emotion, insecurity, can present unique challenges for leaders and coworkers.  As the TV show Hoarders illustrates, when people feel anxious or insecure, they become fearful of losing control and obsessively cling to the familiar, unwilling to relinquish even the most insignificant items.

In the workplace, hoarding may not manifest itself through piles of old newspapers, but rather through employees stockpiling information:  company information, job know-how or even customer data.  For some information hoarders, hanging on to job knowledge gives them a sense of power and importance because they have specific data that no one else has.  Oftentimes, they’ve carved out a niche in the organization which requires coworkers to search out and ask for information they need to do their jobs—wasting valuable time and energy.

Regardless of the reason, information hoarding can be highly destructive in a rapidly changing workplace.  What can leaders do to create a high-performance team with a “share the wealth” mentality?

  • Be generous with feedback.  Give credit and openly recognize performance.  Employees want to know their efforts are valued.
  • Set expectations.  Talk with employees about the negative impact territorialism has on performance and customer service.  Brainstorm with the team about how they can better collaborate.
  • Encourage sharing through training.  Identify ways employees can provide more value to the organization by giving them opportunities to share their knowledge through informal or formal training sessions.
  • Reward a “reformed” hoarder.  As you see collaboration improve, offer more responsibilities and opportunities that allow employees to leverage their experience and showcase their talent.

No organization is a one-man show—companies thrive through teamwork and collaboration.  And it’s a team headed for disaster when members fail to support each other and deliberately obstruct the flow of information.   A few targeted leadership strategies will remove these hurdles—boosting collaboration, cooperation, engagement and productivity.

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