Stacks of old newspapers and magazines. Appliances fallen into disrepair. Piles of clothing in various states of cleanliness. Nests of cockroaches and spiders. These, and much, much worse, are staples of TV shows like Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive.
Hoarding is a psychological condition characterized by an extreme attachment to objects and anxiety about letting them go. It’s a problem about one in every 50 people struggle with.
Can the same be said of the knowledge and expertise held by your team?
Knowledge hoarding is a real phenomenon. If you or anyone on your team has ever failed to share some nugget of information, don’t worry – it happens. But when people struggle to let go of valuable information, then you have a real problem.
After all, do you really want your knowledge living in just one place, inaccessible to your team? What happens if it walks out the door? What about all that time wasted trying to find or recreate what you already own?
The key to preventing an imbalanced build-up of knowledge is sharing. And the key to sharing is tapping into each individual’s willingness and ability to do so.
So bust out your hazmat suit and join us on a mission to find the common causes of hoarding in sales teams – and surface those stashed-away piles of knowledge.
Cause #1: A “knowledge-is-power” environment
Knowledge is valuable. In fact, it could be the most valuable asset you have in your arsenal, as a key differentiator between you and your competitors. The same goes for individual employees establishing and maintaining their value within an organization.
- Internal competition: Competition between reps can be a huge motivator for productivity and performance. It can also motivate individuals to keep knowledge to themselves to create an edge for their own success.
- Job security and status: Reps use knowledge to make themselves indispensable. After all, if the knowledge is valuable, so is the person who holds that knowledge. Give that away, and they fear they might lose future opportunities... along with the edge that sets them apart.
Focus on teams over individuals. Make team accomplishments and sharing behaviours part of your performance metrics. Doing so helps break the knowledge-is-power workplace down into a sharing-is-power one, where the best sharers come out ahead.
Cause #2: A lack of incentives
What motivates your reps to share? The same things that encourage reps to excel in other parts of their job. But if your team doesn’t celebrate sharing the same way as it celebrates closing deals, that motivation flies out the window and knowledge stays right where it is.
- No rewards: Reps are busy. They have goals to meet and quotas to hit, and sharing with others takes time away from that. You bet it’ll be an uphill battle to convince them that unleashing their knowledge is worth their time if you don’t give them anything in return.
- No feedback: Let’s say a rep shared information with you last week. Was it useful? If it was and you didn’t tell them so, they have no way of knowing. They could just as easily assume it was a waste of time, or feel ignored, discouraging them from sharing again.
Make sure reps feel valued. Whether that means rolling out an incentive program that attaches tangible rewards for their sharing or starting a feedback cycle so reps feel encouraged to do more of a good thing, motivation makes a big difference.
Cause #3: No easy way to share
Even if reps want to share, the question is, can they? Without the right tools at hand, sharing becomes a document management nightmare at best or an information black hole at worst.
- Scattered knowledge: Reps waste hours combing through different platforms and repositories for information on the daily. If they don’t know where to find the knowledge they need, they certainly won’t know where to share the knowledge they have.
- Low adoption: When your team sidelines your new system in favour of old habits (think email, chat, shared folders, or even on paper) it’s a clear sign your tech isn’t solving the right problem, or your reps don’t understand how they benefit.
At Kiite, we’re huge advocates of better – not more – sales tools. Look for sharing solutions that integrate smoothly into the other systems and processes you use, and AI that can help take care of the information hunting-and-gathering for you.
Like any proper mess, it takes time and effort to create order from chaos. But by breaking down the causes that encourage that chaos in the first place, you set yourself – and your team – up for sharing success.