Your Office Coach: Share Your Expertise, But Make Sure Everyone Knows It Came From You

By Marie G. McIntyre
McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

QUESTION: I can’t decide whether to share some information with my colleagues. I am in the final year of a master’s degree program, and I recently started a new job. Because of my graduate training, I have already been able to make some unique contributions.

Yesterday, a co-worker asked where I found an organizational tool that I was using. After I explained that I’m learning these techniques in school, she suggested putting the information in a shared directory for the whole department to use. I am feeling rather conflicted about this idea.

My graduate courses are expensive and require a lot of work. Since I’m making these sacrifices to gain a career advantage, it seems wrong to just give my knowledge away. On the other hand, I do want to be a helpful colleague. If I keep my resources to myself, am I being savvy or selfish?

ANSWER: To resolve this dilemma, you will need to expand your thinking. So far, you have defined your options as either hoarding your knowledge or dumping it into the computer system. While refusing to share would indeed be selfish, making an anonymous contribution would be politically stupid.

A far better alternative is to impart this valuable information in a way that showcases your talents. The first step in this process is to meet with your boss and explain what you have to offer.

For example: “Some techniques that I learned in graduate school have helped me work much more efficiently, so I thought they might also be useful to others. If you agree, I would like to talk about the best way to share these resources.”

If your manager supports this effort, distribution strategies might include a lunch-and-learn session, an article for the newsletter, or a staff meeting presentation. Be sure to add your name and contact information to any printed or posted material. With this approach, you can assist your colleagues while simultaneously enhancing your reputation.

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