How To Train Others Without Endangering Your Job

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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10 Responses to “How To Train Others Without Endangering Your Job”

  1. Some years ago I was asked to visit the corporate orifice and tell a new hire “all about the projects” I was working on “so he can help you out”. I did so. At the end of the day I was informed the new hire was being promoted and would be my new direct supervisor and “how do you feel about that?”
    A few months later the new hire left the company.

  2. It really depends. If the person you are training is on H-1b, L1, or OPT you are getting laid off soon. This, in the industry, is called KT (knowledge transfer). That is when a company uses an outsourcing visa to displace US workers.

  3. How do you know? Did you get to talk to the new hire? The new hire must have been privately asked by management to packup the bags or face music for loss of profits; though himself not directly responsible or working in sales.

  4. johngalt

    > 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

    All depends on the company. As a contractor at a particular 3-lettered tech company, I figured it would be a good idea to use the downtime between projects to brush up on areas I felt I needed some training in; then they said they didn’t want me training at work, to doi taht at home. What, they would prefer to *PAY* me to sit at my desk with my thumb up my butt doing nothing, rather than gain knowledge that would help me do my job better??? I resolved then that nay training i did on my *own* time would *only* be for competitors products, so that I could be sure to take business away from them in the future.

  5. Marie


    I was asked to train a low-paid worker about all aspects of my position. The manager said the reason is to help me out and back me up in case I am on vacation. But I am still feeling unsecured. What advice can you give me?


  6. I am a 3D BIM drafter and I spent 2 years along with thousands of hours and dollars learning how to use and manipulate the softwares I use. About 6 months ago the other drafter with 40 plus years of experience left. My boss replaced him with his daughter who has been playing on the software since August. We have some downtime coming up and he has informed me he wants me to train and share with her many of the things only I currently know about using the software. I recently asked for a raise last month and have been told its in the works.
    I honestly do not want to train his daughter in any way, I feel like its unfair of him to even ask me. I have been stuck doing the brunt amount of work while she fiddles around learning and I feel helping her would not be in my best interest.
    Any advice?

  7. I was recently asked to share my knowledge with the supervisor I work as a union person supervisor gets much more money than I do is it wrong of me to demand more money especially since the supervisor makes substantial amount more money than I do and doesn’t know the job