Objects In the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
(One of the 83 quick and practical life & work lessons from Sh*t Sandwich: Quick & Practical Success Lessons for Practically Anyone.)
The Mack Truck Theory
In a previous post I explained how everyone was replaceable – and they are, provided you don’t let them become what are called “knowledge hoarders.” As an employer, this is actually the one instance when an employee can become indispensable. This occurs when someone possesses all of the organizational, operational, logistical, and other information about a project, product or process; and doesn’t share any of this with others.
Knowledge hoarders are dangerous, and their departure can cripple their team, their department, or even your entire company. The good news is that this can only happen when you allow it to happen.
Recently, I observed an internet sales manager who was a master at knowledge hoarding. He seemed to have a singular goal: keep the entire company in the dark about the who, what, when, where, and why of internet sales. This guy not only hid information critical to the success of the business, but he worked overtime to overcomplicate the marketing and processes of attracting and selling online buyers. In doing this, he ensured that he became the most indispensable employee in that company’s history. And a threat to their future.
What if he got hit by a Mack Truck on his way to work tomorrow?
This is the Mack Truck Theory, and it’s a real and present danger to many businesses. To apply this to your business and your current team, simply ask yourself “What would happen to us if _______ got hit by a Mack Truck on the way to work tomorrow?”
Regardless of why your people refuse to properly follow your processes, use your technology, or spread their wealth of knowledge; you need to act as if the inevitable disaster will certainly harm your company’s ability to grow. Knowledge hoarding is clearly a practice that should be stopped immediately; and subscribing to the Mack Truck Theory and applying it to every person on your payroll will help you sniff out the knowledge hoarders before it’s too late.
Interestingly, in their effort to create job security by becoming indispensable, knowledge hoarders all but ensure they’ll never be promoted, either. The company simply cannot afford to lose them in their current positions – whether they move up or out.
Your lesson here is to grow in your career by gathering as much knowledge as you can, share it where you can, and to always operate within the company’s rules, processes, and guidelines, so that when they’re looking for someone to promote, your name is at the top of the list.