Share Your Knowledge and Gain a Reputation as a Collaborator

Photo Credit: My Life Through a Lens for

Photo Credit: My Life Through a Lens for

As a professional, you have a level of expertise that is unique to you. No two people share the exact same body of knowledge. Once you acquire knowledge and continue to deepen it through higher education or certifications, it is important to share that knowledge with others.

Workloads and responsibilities continue to escalate in the workplace today. Help to shorten other people’s learning curves by openly and readily sharing information.

How do you do it? Here are a few behavioral shifts that can help you to actively share your knowledge with others:

Develop a mastermind group. During my mid-career years, I began meeting with a mastermind group (and have participated in several others since then). This choice made all the difference in my professional growth, because we learned from each other. For a primer on the topic, read my article about mastermind groups.

Mentor. One of the most fulfilling experiences in my career has been mentoring young professionals just beginning their careers. Before I mentored them, I gained valuable advice from my own mentors. Mentoring is one of the most powerful one-on-one relationships you can establish – and benefit from – in your career. Who could you approach as a mentor? Who could you help as a mentor?

Find a goal buddy. Meet with a colleague who you can trust to openly share your career goals. My colleague, Susan, and I have been meeting quarterly for nearly 20 years! We learn a great deal from each other, share information and resources, and keep each other on track. Who could you partner with?

Teach. There is no better way to retain knowledge and remain “fresh” in your chosen field than teaching. When you teach others, you deepen your understanding of the topic. What in your life have you mastered that you could teach to others?

Coach. Coaching has become a modern staple in the business world today. More and more, supervisors are expected to manage and coach their teams. Read my primer article on executive coaching.

Share transformational books with others. One of my longtime clients encourages his management team each year to read several best-seller books on appropriate topics like leadership, communication, or teamwork. The team openly discusses content at monthly meetings. This simple act creates a collaborative mindset in the workplace.

Transfer knowledge. Companies are investing more resources in knowledge management methods to ensure that the collective knowledge in a company, division, or department remains intact even while employees come and go. What is the collective wisdom in the area you manage? How are you capturing and managing that knowledge?

Share knowledge. People who share their knowledge with others position themselves as people who want others to succeed. Don’t be stingy with your expertise. Who can you share your knowledge with? How much better could they perform their jobs with additional information?

Shift from knowledge to wisdom. Wisdom comes from gaining important lessons from your lived experiences and applying that wisdom to future lived experiences. An Aboriginal saying wisely states, “The more you know, the less you need.”

When you create a framework of sharing and managing knowledge, and encouraging and modeling open communication, you will earn the reputation of creative collaborator with senior management, your team, and peers across your organization.

Resolve to Share Your Knowledge

knowledge0This year, rise above the standard resolutions that make you feel better about yourself (lose weight, drink more water, exercise) and do something that will make others feel good about you: Resolve to share your knowledge with co-workers, colleagues, family and friends.

It begins with a simple statement: “I resolve…to share more of my knowledge…with others.” The end result: When you give more, you get more in return.

You have been living in the Information Age for more than two decades now, and yes, people can find information on the Internet with a quick click of the mouse. However, the most meaningful information that you can give (and receive) comes through human contact, old-fashioned face-to-face interpersonal communication.

In your profession, you glean valuable information through your lived experience. That’s something that you cannot find on a spreadsheet or in a PowerPoint presentation. You share that information by telling your story. “When I started at this company ten years ago, we didn’t have a marketing director. Now we are shipping our products to 39 countries worldwide.” It’s that personal information that puts things into perspective for the listener.

Today, there are still some people who choose not to share their knowledge with others because they fear that someone else may assume their position. It sounds something like this: “It took me 25 years to get to where I am in this company. If anyone thinks I’m going to simply share all of my knowledge, well, they’re wrong!” This type of scarcity thinking holds those people back from greater achievement in their career and in life. Imagine the kind of work environment they could create if they became more inclusive and collaborative in their thinking and sharing of information. It positions them as true leaders who want others to succeed. They invest their time sharing their knowledge so that others can perform better on the job. What a concept.

Sharing your knowledge with others positions you as:

*Caring about the success of others

As you think about the tremendous knowledge that you possess, think specifically about the kind of knowledge that you can (and will) share with the people around you. They will appreciate it for two reasons: 1) You have shortened their learning curve or 2) You have given them a critical piece of information that allows them to do their job.

Deliberately holding back information out of fear is so outdated. Share your knowledge with others and see how positively people will respond to you. Your giving will come back to you ten-fold.

Begin with the question: What knowledge can I share with others?

Get Smart About Generation Z

GeneraZWe have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next generation in the workplace, and it is here: Generation Z (Gen Z), individuals born after 1995. With 23 million strong, this growing segment of the population has the attention of professionals ranging from human resource vice presidents to marketing executives. Those Gen Zs who are not pursuing college are already working; those who have chosen college will be hitting the workplace in the next three years.

In 2014, Sparks & Honey released its report on Gen Z. Their SlideShare presentation, Meet Generation Z: Forget Everything You Learned About Millennials, is illuminating and will answer many questions you have about this young audience.

Since I talk about multiple generations in my communication programs, it’s important to educate myself on this rising generation. There is much to learn about the different generations, what sets them apart, what they have lived through, what motivates them and how they communicate.

Here are a few interesting facts that to share:

According to the 2012 US Census Bureau, Gen Z currently makes up the largest population of all five generations at 25.9%, followed by Millenials (or Gen Y) at 24.5%, Baby Boomers at 23.6%, Gen X at 15.4% and Swing (or Traditionalists) at 10.5%.

Gen Z’s are socially aware and want to make a difference, are more entrepreneurial, are inclusive and embrace diversity, enjoy creating things and have a global social network.

These digital natives multitask using five screens (electronic devices) vs. Millennials who use just two screens simultaneously.

They are more private, preferring incognito social platforms like Snapchat, Whisper and Secret to more public platforms like Facebook.

If you want to connect better with Gen Z, Sparks & Honey recommends:

  • Recognize their diversity.
  • Communicate using images, like emojis, symbols, pictures and videos.
  • Stay connected using shorter, more frequent messaging.
  • Treat them as equals; don’t talk down to them.
  • Include them in collaborative efforts.
  • Feed their curiosity (and since they’re foodies, feed them too!).

The full report can be found at the Sparks & Honey website.

An excellent Gen Z Instagram designed by Marketo, using the top statistics from the Sparks & Honey report, provides an excellent quick visual reference.

Get smart about this next generation. They are entering the workplace with determination and ready to make a difference.


The Pro’s Code: Develop Your Skills

Part 13 in a series on professionalism.

Criteria 13: Highly developed skills. Has attained a certain level of expertise in a given area, and openly shares information with others.

SkillsYou have acquired certain skills and abilities throughout your life that makes you knowledgeable in certain topics or areas of interest. It’s often called your body of knowledge. But how do you become competent in those areas?

Competence comes from a deep knowledge and assimilation of a subject, enhanced by ongoing study or research. You know the topic cold, without having to reference any notes. For instance, you can be knowledgeable about the perennials in your garden. To become a competent gardener, you must know when to feed your plants, when to prune or divide them, and whether to plant them in sun or in shade. Your higher level of competency about gardening would translate into a consistently healthy garden. It takes a lot to become recognized as being competent in your field; you must add your own field experience to your education and training.

No matter what profession you choose, each offers a professional organization to join. Don’t discount what you can learn from your peers. When professional organizations host annual conferences, some of the learning takes place in the general sessions and breakout sessions. Between sessions, valuable learning happens through hallway conversations, when members can open up and exchange information and share valuable insights. Look at the associations that you belong to and ask how they are helping you to learn more, network with your peers and advance your career. You may be missing important opportunities that could heighten your level of professionalism. Joining a professional organization puts you in contact with other leaders and keeps you informed of the latest trends and innovations in your field.

The competent professional is the person who makes it to the short list every time, who people think of first, whether being considered for a higher level position at work or leading a volunteer organization, because they have developed their level of proficiency.

How would people describe your level of competence? Would they identify you as skilled, being knowledgeable, or being competent?

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!


In the classic children’s book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, author Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) begins with:


Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

How wonderful that children are given a glimpse of possibility at such a young age. Let me remind you that at any age you can still dream and imagine the possibilities that lie ahead of you in your life.

When I received my Master of Arts degree in Interpersonal Communication in 1997, the commencement speaker used the theme, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! A smart move because most of the graduates in the auditorium that day grew up reading Dr. Seuss books. Many could recite chapter and verse.

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

As you embark on a new year’s journey, consider the places you want to go that haven’t quite made it to your priority list. They may reside in the recesses of your brain. You may think about doing them more than actually doing them. What would it take for you to focus on what you want in your life? I use a simple A-B-C method, as outlined in my book, Everything I Do Positions Me: The Simple Path to Professional Success. The key word here is simple. Here it is:

A: Where are you currently positioned? (your current status, current behavior)

C: Fast forward to Where do you want to be positioned? What is your ultimate goal? Your desired future?

B: What sandwiches the gap between A (here and now) and C (the future) is B. What action steps will get you to C?


A: Poor presentation skills. (current)

C: Polished presenter. (future)

B: Action steps:

  1. Attend a presentations workshop.
  2. Join a Toastmasters group.
  3. Ask my boss to give me more presentation assignments.
  4. Practice in front of the mirror two hours weekly.
  5. Submit a proposal to present at a national professional association conference.

You get the picture. You can go anywhere you want in your career and life. Focus on the things you want most. Create the action steps to get you there. Enjoy the results. It’s that simple.

You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

who soar to high heights.

Visit Seussville or Amazon to order your own copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! to keep you motivated! Watch a short YouTube video of the book, read by actor John Lithgow.

Title and quotes are copyrighted material, Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

Open an Account at the Knowledge Bank, Part 3 thousand hours. That’s how much time you must invest before you can master a new skill, as some experts claim. To build your Knowledge Bank, you must master the third part of the trilogy, application, which follows discipline and assimilation.

When you apply what you have learned, you practice or “try on” your new knowledge before you master it. How does it fit into your work and your life? For example, if you have learned a new method to better facilitate meetings, then begin using it in your next meeting. Adjust it where needed. As you use this new knowledge, ask questions like, “How else could I use this knowledge?” or “Is there some other way I can apply it?”

Author Napoleon Hill wrote the classic book, Think and Grow Rich in 1937, outlining 13 principles for leading a successful life. The fourth in the list is specialized knowledge. When I first read this book in the 1980s as a young professional, I was impressed with how simple Hill’s writing was. I remember him speaking of the importance of applying what you learn. With application comes knowledge. All these years later, Hill’s advice is still fresh and meaningful to me.

Consider the beauty and tranquility of a Japanese garden. The gardener must learn various techniques for carefully pruning shrubs and trees, meticulously sweeping leaves, and raking gravel to create traditional patterns. It takes months and years of practice to become master gardener of a Japanese garden.

What is different about the Knowledge Bank that I have covered in these past three posts is that it belongs to you, and you can build your bank so that it provides riches to you and to others. When you invest your knowledge in others, it pays dividends in their lives and in yours. You will feel good knowing that you played an important role in helping others learn and grow.

How much do you have invested in your Knowledge Bank?

How are you sharing your knowledge wealth with others?

Enroll in the Graduate School of the Mind

human-head-business-thinking copyImagine that you could create your own graduate level course to complete on your own timetable and for little or no financial investment. You can. Today, anyone can take the equivalent of a graduate level course by reading and studying books or taking online courses through Apple’s iTunes U or other free website resources. Even select colleges and universities offer complimentary courses for curious minds. With this approach, of course, you won’t have the tests, papers, theses or dissertations to complete yet the education is all there.

Let’s say you have been promoted into a management position within your organization and you want to learn more about leadership. Decide how much time you will dedicate each week to reading and studying. For now, we’ll say ten hours. At the end of one year, you will have invested more than 500 hours and educated yourself in a deeply focused way on the topic of leadership. When those studies are complete, if you like, you can choose a new educational topic theme, say, human performance. Each year, you could receive a new “degree” in a new topic area from the Graduate School of the Mind. To learn, retain information and grow, you must put what you learn into practice.

When people begin asking you questions like, “How do you know so much about leadership?,” you will answer with confidence, “I am very interested in the topic of leadership and have studied it extensively.” So the next time your organization is looking for someone with top leadership skills, who do you think they just might turn to? Think of the exciting topics you could explore and master if you just remained focused.

A Peer Group is a Prized Possession

Your peer group is one of your most valuable and prized possessions. Yet it is often under-appreciated. Could it be that we are taught from elementary school to compete with each other? I can honestly say that I would not be half the professional person I am today if it were not for my peers who helped me. One of the fastest ways to shorten any learning curve is to look to your peers for advice, guidance and assistance. You may be surprised how willing they are to share their knowledge.

A few years ago, I received a call from a young woman who was referred by a mutual colleague. She wanted advice on how she could reach people and let them know about her new business venture. I recommended several professional organizations to her. Based on my positive experiences, I mentioned how valuable peer support groups are and how generous people are with their time. There was a long silence and then she said, “Why would I want to spend time with my competitors?” Her comment stunned me. I couldn’t believe how short sighted she was. I explained the value that peers bring to your career. She was not interested in my philosophy. Oh well. I tried.

In what ways are you tapping into the knowledge of your peers? And how often do you share your knowledge with them?