IT managers are increasingly asking veterans to share their technical knowledge with novice co-workers as a cost-effective way to develop staff. But the mandates pose a Catch-22 for professionals who fear losing their jobs to lower-paid colleagues if they comply — or losing their jobs if they don’t.
After the problem received six pages of comments on Dice Discussions, I asked our Talent Community Guides R. Emmett O’Ryan and Rob Reilly to share their advice.
Should contractors be required to provide training?
Reilly: Contractors should ask about the knowledge transfer process before they accept an assignment, since they’re expected to leave some sort of trail for others to follow once they’re done. If a manager asks you to train an employee or another contractor out of the blue, contact the recruiter at your agency immediately, because he’s probably familiar with the company’s internal politics, and may be able to help you either resolve the situation or find another assignment.
O’Ryan: Unless you reach an agreement with the manager before the assignment, provide only standard knowledge to the trainee, not idiosyncrasies or creative solutions that you’ve acquired through years of experience. I wouldn’t share anything that sets you apart or creates added value. If you do, you’ll diminish your marketability. At the very least, providing rudimentary training can buy you time while you look for another gig.
How can full-timers provide training without putting their jobs at risk?
Reilly: They need to be aware of internal politics and budget shortfalls so they’ll know whether their boss’s request is legitimate, or if their job is truly in danger. If you want to stay with the company, you need to constantly propose new ways to contribute and initiate career discussions on a regular basis. Otherwise, you can easily be replaced by a lower-paid worker. The only way to boost your security is to always be learning new things and planning your next move.
O’Ryan: Training needs to be a quid pro quo situation for full-time employees. If you’re expected to share your knowledge with others, then you should also receive training and coaching so you’re prepared to take on another role or position. Of course, it’s better to have these types of conversations proactively, to make sure you and your boss are on the same page. Sometimes, your boss may not recognize or understand your concerns unless you explain them. But even if you have a written career plan, it’s still a good idea to confirm your next move with your boss before you start training a possible replacement.
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