do I have to teach my coworkers my hard-earned skills?

A reader writes:

I am the go-to person in my office for managers and coworkers for all things Excel. I am a senior data analyst. I have taught many of my coworkers (other analysts) many things about Excel and have helped them out with their own deliverables that require spreadsheet expertise. I have gotten a lot of good PR for this and a great reputation for helping out.

Here is my issue. In the last two years, Excel has come up with more functionality to be able to handle extremely large data files. The old Excel limit of 1 million rows is a thing of the past with this new functionality. Since I am an Excel geek, I took it upon myself on my own time at home to learn this new technology. Due to this, I was able to create something which resulted in a large cost savings to my employer by not having a vendor do this same work. Therefore this enhanced my visibility (although no extra bonus or promotion for this cost savings).

My skill level is clearly way above everyone else’s and the degree of difficulty of the things I am now working on is clearly higher than that of my fellow analysts. The frustrating part is that my pay raise/title have been the same as theirs. To make matters worse, my boss now wants me to teach my coworkers these new skills.

I am demoralized by the fact my employer wants me to essentially hand over these hard earned skills to the others. When I took the initiative to learn this on my own, I did it to gain a competitive advantage and make myself stand out from the rest. Mission accomplished in that regard, but now I have to train these other analysts because they don’t want to make the effort themselves. I can show them how I do my stuff pretty quickly, but only because I have put in hours of my own time to get to that point.

Part of me wants to say that I would be happy to train them if they are my direct reports and I am promoted to a title of a manager (which is much more pay than an analyst in my company). But as long as I am a single contributor, I do not feel it is my responsibility to give other analysts the skills to advance their own career. I am all for helping out as I have in the past, but this new technology is a game changer and having this skill clearly creates separation from the rest of the pack.

Thoughts?

If you’d really be able to show them what you know in a very short amount of time (I’m talking half an hour, not a couple of days), then it’s pretty hard to defend not sharing that knowledge. If you refused that, you’d come across badly — defensive of your turf (and insecure about it), and not getting that you’re part of a team rather than just out for yourself.

But if the knowledge is that valuable and you put significant time into learning it, I’m skeptical that you could teach it that quickly. You might be able to show them things like “doing X will accomplish Y,” but you’re not going to be able to quickly impart the larger-picture understanding that you no doubt picked up from your own self-study.

Assuming that to be the case, it would be reasonable to say to your boss, “It took me a really long time to learn all of this and it’s not something I could easily or quickly teach. But what I can do is suggest resources for people who are interested in investing the time to learn it like I did.” Then it’s up to your coworkers to decide whether or not to pursue that, and it’s likely that a lot of them won’t bother.

In other words, it’s reasonable to be expected to invest a small amount of time in sharing your skills with coworkers. It’s not reasonable (or practical) to be expected to do a full download of your brain.

I would not say that you’ll do the teaching if you’re promoted to become your coworkers’ manager. It’s useful to have a manager who can impart technical knowledge, sure, but there are much bigger considerations that go into whether or not someone should be moved into a management role (things like being skilled at laying out clear expectations, giving feedback, addressing problems, finding and developing talented people, working well above you and sideways, and leading a team to results). If you think there’s a case to be made for giving you management responsibilities, totally separate from this Excel situation, you could definitely make that case! But don’t base it around this, and definitely don’t frame it as a trade (“if you give me this, I will do that”). Doing that would actually undercut your case for that kind of promotion, because it’s counter to the “what’s best for the team?” orientation that a manager needs to have.

Totally aside from that, though, it sounds like you should be making the case for a raise. You can point to the fact that you’re tackling more challenging projects than the rest of your team and that your skills saved your company a huge amount of money. As part of that case, you can also mention that you’ve taken the initiative to develop skills on your own time that are now benefiting the company in XYZ ways. That’s a much better focus when you want to benefit from the work you’ve put in, rather than getting hung up on keeping the knowledge from other people. (And if you get turned down, then that’s valuable info about the extent to which your company is — and isn’t — willing to reward your efforts, and might be a sign that it’s worth seeing who might appreciate them more.)

{ 403 comments… read them below }

  1. BeenThere

    I had a very similar issue and resolved it by suggesting time and money would be better spent bringing in a trainer and having them devote the time necessary to bring people up to speed on these skills. Fortunately, my management agreed. Most (but not all) are still not where I am but it has relieved some burden as their managers now expect them to do it themselves instead of dumping it on me.

    1. Oilpress

      But teaching coworkers is a great opportunity to be seen as an expert. It’s an accomplishment much more than it is a burden.

      1. Ames

        /s?

        OP already has, and this isn’t his/her first rodeo. It’s now at the point where it’s being expected instead of appreciated.

      1. Hills to Die on

        Me too. Knowledge and info hoarders are my pet peeve. It comes across and selfish and bratty. The best manager I ever had once told me that your boss doesn’t promote you—your peers do. Don’t be that person that nobody wants to help because you refuse to help them learn new skills. Just go after the raise and be nice.

      2. Specialk9

        I don’t think that’s actually what they’re saying. They said they already HAVE done a ton of training of co-workers.

        They’re saying they have worked hard to become a rockstar, but haven’t seen the benefit in raise and promotion, and now have to interrupt their day to teach everyone who didn’t take initiative (but got the same raise).

        So at the end of the day, OP needs to tackle the compensation/level part with their manager, or find another company. Because they’re at the point where they’re disgruntled, and not being compensated for good work.

        1. Genny

          Agreed. While hoarding information is ridiculous, it sounds like training the coworkers is a reading herring. The real problem is that LW isn’t being adequately compensated for their skills and contributions to the company. I’d recommend focusing my energy on that problem (first through conversations with management and then to job searching if those conversations aren’t fruitful).

        2. Lynca

          I don’t disagree about needing to tackle the compensation issue. They absolutely should.

          But they’re being asked to pass the knowledge along by management. There’s no indication the co-workers don’t retain what they’ve been taught. Just that the OP has taught them in the past and doesn’t want to do so now because they feel they’ll lose something.

          In reality you’re not losing the rockstar status by teaching others to be more efficient/better workers.

        3. krysb

          This is where I fall, too. On one hand, I find knowledge-hoarding to be a huge problem; on the other hand, if I take the time during my personal time to learn a skill, I don’t really want to teach people who aren’t willing to do the same. As someone who has learned a lot of things on my own, then brought them to work and implemented them to the benefit of all, it gets exhausting to act as the brain of the entire group.

        4. Been there too

          I could have written this post.
          Here’s the OPs real problem. It’s core issue for many people.

          Employers undervalue employees who quietly and independently handle large projects. That’s the demoralizing part: having your hard work undervalued.

          They assume unless a person writes a 10 page timeline, has 10 meetings and complains to their boss on a daily basis the project was simple. I swear there are people who would cc a project timeline to their boss if they had to make a cup of coffee.

          I’m sure the OP’s boss didn’t see her spend hours learning her skill, they just think it’s a few button clicks. This is what I would do, say you would train staff but be clear it’s a long process and write it out so their boss is aware it’s not just a few tricks. Teach them and then ask for a raise. Then keep learning new skills. If the employer is decent, they will reward the hard work, if not leave.

    1. BeenThere

      It’s not hoarding knowledge. OP (and I) are willing to share. I help whenever I can but I also have a job to do that is not to create these tools for everyone, especially when everyone has the option to learn them themselves. Why wouldn’t they want to know themselves how to do it? What if OP or I leave our respective employers?

      1. samiratou

        Also, once you become the sharer of information, you become de facto support going forward–any questions or issues they have will go back to the OP. People won’t look it up on their own, and it could potentially be a big time suck for the OP in supporting coworkers. If they learn it on their own, they’re less likely to ping the OP with “How do I do this?” vs looking it up on their own, and the team can be more collaborative and strategic about how they work together to make better use of the tools.

        1. Lil Fidget

          Thisthisthisthis. If I am ever a knowledge hoarder, this is why. Honestly this can become a huge time suck.

          1. JokeyJules

            i’m with you. The number of times i’ve been asked to reteach something for the umpteenth time… sure, it only takes 15 minutes for me to teach it to you, but if i need to teach it to you 5 times…

            1. Anonyspice

              It’s tiresome, unless my role requires it.

              I look at this way – you don’t want to pay me for the skill nor to teach the skill, so I keep the skill.

              1. AKchic

                This. 100%.

                I took the initiative to learn something on my own time (and possibly on my own dime). You choose not to pay me any additional compensation even though it benefits the company.
                You want me to train the rest of the staff, sure… but what will really happen is the rest of the staff will realize I’m the “expert” and feign helplessness and expect me to “fix” their errors and “solve” their problems rather than utilizing the training I’ve already provided them. I will no longer be hoarding knowledge, but become the Fixer.
                At some point, a manager will notice that I have become the Fixer and ask why these coworkers, who have supposedly been through my training, are not utilizing their training, and the words “she didn’t teach me that” will be uttered. Management will automatically assume I didn’t teach well enough and expect me to teach again. Whether it’s a “refresher” or another full-on teaching module, it will waste time, and we will go through the cycle all over again.

                (can you tell I’ve been through this before?)

                1. Jill

                  Yes, yes, yes. I love teaching people, too. But not when it turns into what AKchic describes, which it has for me, many times.

                  If I hear, “But you’re so goooooood at this!!” one more time, I’m going to scream.

                2. Batty Twerp

                  THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!!!!!!!!
                  This is pretty much a cut and paste from my position at the moment (I’ve even been given a fake/joke business card that says “Excel Guru”)

                3. Emmaborina

                  Also, just because someone learns something, doesn’t mean they are the best person to teach it. Being an effective teacher is more than just knowing something. So making people aware of the resources available so they can go and learn it themselves is a much better route. The one caveat is that if OP has built something which needs to be used by others, there is going to have to be some buy-in in implementing it in the organisation (which could be recommending colleagues undertake X or Y training).

            2. Shoes On My Cat

              I had a similar problem -at many Old Jobs because I understood Programmer Brain, thus how to manipulate programs or find the answer in the help menus. I finally talked to Boss and we agreed I’d train people 3 times on that particular question then cut them off. I’d specifically tell each person to write it down when they asked second time AND clearly stated “I will only answer this 3 times” after that you have shown me that you are not paying attention and not respecting my time, efforts to train you & work load. **with Boss witnessing. Sure enough, 4th time came up and would not engage. Person(s) went to Boss and Boss backed me up, repeating my words. It’s done the trick ever since.

            3. A.

              Once I was so frustrated with this woman asking me the same questions over and over again, that I wouldn’t move forward unless she took down notes. She did not like me from that point moving forward but she also stopped bothering me to show her the same task over and over again.

              In my next job to try to be nicer about it, I started jotting down quick and simple directions that I can forward to the person if they have questions after I thoroughly show them once.

              1. AKchic

                After 6 months in a position of “Administrator” for a program, I created How To guides for every question I ever got. With step-by-step screenshots.
                We had one guy that was too embarrassed to call IT to ask how to attach emails, but would ask me to walk him through it daily, so I sent *him* a step-by-step How To guide as well.

                8 years worth of How-To guides ended up being part of my job manual when I left. My job manual was a 5″ thick 3-ring binder. Color-coded, sectioned, cross-referenced, and I even had a digital copy. I’d like to say it was idiot-proof, but I got phone calls.

                1. Chinookwind

                  That is how I handled all the “how do I” questions I received and I was soon loved by both the Help Desk and coworkers because I would forward them on to the Help Desk guys (outside their ticket queue) AND I saved them in a public folder for anyone to access. Then, when asked, I would just send them a link to it. I benefited because the Help Desk knew that, if I was calling with a problem, it was something they definitely needed to handle.

              2. BookishMiss

                I had one person sit with me for a week, progressing from watching to doing, provided them a how-to guide with pictures, and then CONTINUED to answer questions. After being asked by my manager to teach them again, I replied to the email with “I’m happy to help, but I’m tied up for a little bit. Can you review the documentation and notes that I’ve given you and have specific questions ready? I’ll be free in about an hour.”

                Lo and behold, I got a “nevermind” back.

                1. Jill

                  This is such a wonderful script for this type of situation! I’m going to print it out for future reference.

                  .

                2. BookishMiss

                  It’s from one of Alison’s bags of tricks, and I LOVE it. It’s such a lovely, professional way to say “you should know this by now. I have my own job to do.”

                  Like AKchic, I created and left behind a physical and digital copy of all the how-to guides and cheat sheets I’d made, but I’m sure they’re never used since I’m not there to go “omg use them.” Even titled the binder The Big Book Of Help =)

          2. RockyRoad

            I agree about the time suck aspect of this!

            I took obsessive handwritten notes at an old job that involved processing many different types of transactions that could have a multitude of specific issues with them, so after my first year I knew how to handle any scenario. I was on a big team, and people would constantly ask me about the same things again and again instead of taking their own notes (even if I reminded them to write it down). It got to a point where I was spending over 1/3 of my time just helping teammates each day, and the frequent interruptions made it hard for me to get my own work done. Ended up talking to my supervisor about it and he told me to start directing all questions to the support e-mail (that’s what everyone was supposed to use for any questions and it’s how I learned everything, but no one else liked to use because it took a few hours to get an answer…was a lot quicker to just ask me).

            1. Nellie

              I think it’s valuable being the go-to person. It’s actually a huge advantage if you know how to use a system people are not confident with. In my case it got me a huge promotion as I organised several large group training sessions and follow-up sessions. This got me the higher management role I was aiming for.

              1. BookishMiss

                It is valuable, for sure. I love sharing knowledge and creating documentation. I used it to leverage raises and get to my desired position, but in my (super-dysfunctional) office… Well, it meant that people all had the guides and other resources I’d created, and the day to day support and “I never was trained on…” were added to my already bonkers workload.

                So I left.

          3. darsynia

            I always loved that when my husband (a software designer) was given a task to work out how long a project would take, he would schedule ‘people asking me questions’ time into that timeline. His argument was that if he doesn’t schedule ‘co-worker interaction time,’ he will always be behind his own schedule. He phrased it diplomatically, but it made me wonder if that was one of the massive reasons why people don’t make deadlines, even self-set ones, at work.

        2. Anonymeece

          This. I happily share with people I know can take initiative to troubleshoot or look up past emails explaining from me, but I always drag my feet more when it comes to people who I KNOW will call me twenty times asking how to do the same thing (mostly my boss, so no way out of that one, but… :) ).

          1. Friday afternoon fever

            Thank you! Flip side, whenever I ask for help I mention what I’ve already tried or where I’ve already looked to demonstrate that I’m not trying to waste your time, I just have another new question (:

          2. BookishMiss

            Same. Half the time, I’ll just forward the original email, with the entire forward history still there. Passive aggressive, yes. Makes the point? Sometimes.

        3. Falling Diphthong

          I think it depends hugely on whether your company rewards you for being the go-to person with in-depth knowledge who’s good at teaching others. My husband is that, and it’s paid off for him, and it’s something they explicitly look for when hiring. But if doing this to a level far above your peers doesn’t translate into any higher salary and job, then I can see how it’s just discouraging–sort of like being the person expected to clean the break room sink if everyone else stalls long enough.

          1. Chinookwind

            I know this has helped me because I was placed on database projects above my pay scale that allowed me to have input into user interface design that no one else did. I also became the go to person for the IT department when they were trying to decipher what a user actually wanted out of a program. If I had wanted and could have guaranteed not having to move, I would have been able to transfer into the IT department when they next had an opening. It also guaranteed some job security because, while I was not an information hoarder (the opposite, in fact), I had shown flexibility in understanding how programs work and was able to ease the process of implementing new software with those who weren’t always open to it.

            Basically, I became a “user whisperer.”

          2. TardyTardis

            I hear you. I was in accounts payable, but learned how to run some of the asset/depreciation software. So of course I was expected to do that at the same time I was being slammed with invoices for the end of the month. Did I get paid more? Ha ha ha ha ha ha…

      2. Snark

        I don’t think the attitude of “why should I teach them when they could learn themselves” is terribly productive. Nobody has the time or inclination to reinvent the wheel independently. Obviously if it’s critical to their understanding of how to do the job it does make sense to do the deep dive, but if your boss just wants some backups to be minimally conversant in the process, expecting them to go off and figure it out themselves isn’t great.

        1. MLB

          Sure, but as samiratou said above, you then become the de facto support moving forward. Not saying everyone does it, but in my experience most will just come to you every time they need the same help instead of writing something down or trying to figure it out on their own. And when I’m playing the part of support for everyone, I can’t get my own work done.

          1. Snark

            You aren’t wrong, and if people are going to be fully redundant that will be a reasonable trigger for expecting them to really learn it deeply, but with a lot of processes it makes sense to have a few people who can go in and take care of routine, simple tasks in the expert’s absence. I’m learning hazmat issues right now, not because I’m going to be the hazmat guy, but so I can go and pick up a drum of waste if it’s Friday and the main guy is out. Same diff.

            1. Specialk9

              Right, but it is demoralizing, as OP said, to work hard to become a SME but still get paid like the non-SMEs, and not get recognition. I think that’s the real root of the problem.

              1. Chinookwind

                I think that is how she needs to approach her boss, not for a promotion to manager but to be designated a SME (Subject Matter Expert) with some financial benefit/raise (like Allison mentioned). It is easy to argue because it is true
                and it is bringing financial benefit to the company because they don’t have to go externally to get the information.

                At the very least, she can mention that she is a SME as well as a Power User in Excel on her resume when she next job hunts.

            1. J.

              Yes, this. Obviously I care about job security, but not to the extent that if I were to be hit by a bus I’d still get calls in my hospital bed. (Which actually happened to a colleague of mine last year!) I once left a job on very bad terms and was STILL getting secret calls from former subordinates asking about things months later. I never want to be in that situation again. Knowledge sharing is personal peace of mind.

            2. MLB

              True, but it sounds like they come to her all the time. I used to write knowledge base articles. When someone came to me with a question, my first response was always “What did the KBA say”. Their default was to ask me instead of looking at a document that spelled out what to do. Granted this is not the exact same situation, but it sounds like she’s being taken advantage of because of her knowledge.

              1. Natalie

                But your initial statement was “if you train them, you become the de facto support person”. Yet as you say, people are already coming to her all the time. So how is training them or providing documentation or even just a list of outside resources going to make that worse? It seems more likely to have a neutral to positive affect on how often they query the LW.

              2. Observer

                If you’ve given the person the knowledge they need, you can refuse to be the “de facto support”. If you’ve hoarded the knowledge, you can’t really do that.

        2. Silicon Valley Girl

          I think there’s also a difference between proprietary knowledge & common knowledge. If it’s something company specific, it’s more worth internal training from employee to employee. But Excel is a skill anyone can learn on their own & bring to the job — that shouldn’t be one coworker’s responsibility to share with another (unless they are the designated company trainer, of course).

          1. AntsOnMyTable

            I agree. If the company paid for her training and/or she was hired because of this knowledge than of course she should share it. But she, on her own initiative, put in unpaid work that benefited the company greatly. It was not a requirement of the job. I do not think it is knowledge hoarding for her to not want to give that away. If the company thinks it is worth having they can tell the other staff to also learn it on their own or bring in trainers.

            I just don’t see how so many people think it is okay for her to put in a lot of unpaid effort for the benefit of everyone else. And I say this as someone who LOVES to learn and teach others everything I know.

        3. Kelsi

          Agreed, and also…not everyone learns the same way.

          I’m not the kind of person who can learn how to do something from a book, for instance. My boss used to want to lend me all her ASP/JavaScript/etc. books when I was trying to figure out how to do something, but it’s just not helpful to me. Internet forums are my go-to because there’s a lot of focus on troubleshooting and practical applications (vs. books that often start you with a lot of theory), AND if you get stuck you can always post your own questions and people will answer. With a book I read about a chapter, my eyes cross, and I haven’t retained anything. I need practical examples before the theory is able to “stick” to something in my brain.

          Lots of people don’t learn the way I learn, either! They may need to talk with an actual human being, have someone take them through the steps. Just because the material is out there and the OP was able to learn it, doesn’t mean everyone else necessarily can–even if they’re just as capable as the OP (which may or may not be the case…we don’t know!)

      3. Mike C.

        I don’t think celebrating gumption is a good thing.

        How do you know that the others aren’t trying to improve their own skills, but ran into some dead ends?

        What about the fact that this creates a really unhealthy relearionship between coworkers?

        What happens when they learn something you want to know? Wouldn’t you like that built up goodwill so that they’ll teach you?

        1. Anon today

          I think that this attitude tends to develop because the relationship is consistently one sided. I you are always learning new things and then teaching your coworkers and it never goers the other direction, it can feel like you are being punished for developing your skills. If there is more reciprocity, then resentment is less likely to grow.

          1. Mike C.

            Perhaps, I just look at all the folks in my life who have shared their knowledge with me and think about how much I have to put back to make it somewhat even.

              1. Amber T

                Agreed – if you think no one around you is teaching you anything, you’re not listening (even if it’s how NOT to do something). Everything is a learning experience.

            1. Anon today

              I agree. I think that in a good company the letter writer’s attitude would be holding them back because being a team player is important and generally leads to an overall increase in competence. I just don’t want to discount the possibility that their attitude developed from a dysfunctional company that is not adequately rewarding high performers (which seems to be the letter writer’s perception). It can be really draining when being a team player means supporting everyone else and never getting supported in return.

              1. Specialk9

                Especially because initially OP was fine with training co-workers, it’s only over time with a lack of recognition/raise that changed.

          2. SoCalHR

            That is exactly what I’m picking up from the letter. It sounds like OP has an underlying dissatisfaction for her situation that has grown over time and this is the most recent/notable thing that exemplifies it. I understand the frustration if there has been a pattern of her over-and-above efforts not really being recognized monetarily or otherwise.

          3. AntsOnMyTable

            I agree with this. I tend to pick up things quickly and remember them but also I spend the time and effort to click around and figure out how things work. I make an effort to learn new things. I first go to easily available printed resource or look up things online. I keep notes if necessary. I have noticed the vast majority of people at my job do not do this. Which means I probably give knowledge 90% of the time as opposed to getting it. I am fine with that because it is usually quick little things and I like being the go to person. But sometimes it really affects my own workflow. And I definitely wouldn’t feel the same if I spent hours of my own time learning it when I knew others could do it too if they wanted.

      4. All About that Action

        I agree that creating a training program for everyone else might be something outside the capacity of what OP (and others) can do in addition to their own work, and it’s certainly often the case that having knowledge does not equip one to train others. However, this comes across as somewhat bratty and like OP wants to make themselves more important than others…especially the part about trying to barter it for a promotion. YIKES! That would seriously give me pause about promoting them any time soon.

        I think OP should offer a quickie demo and links to resources, or suggest an outside trainer.

        1. Anonyspice

          OP is a senior analyst. That does make her more important than the others.

          Bargaining for a promotion isn’t smart move, but a raise is certainly in order.

          1. All About that Action

            I don’t disagree that a raise is in order, but it doesn’t sound like the employer thinks that a senior analyst should have these skills and that the other analysts don’t need it. It’s not up to OP to decide how they get that info. They can try to suggest better ways for the others to get the knowledge but the employer has decided not to make a distinction between the levels in terms of this skill set.

      5. AnotherAlison

        This is not the right way to look at things. It’s a waste of effort for everyone to go learn on their own. Plus, there is consistency if one person is the SME on this thing and trains everyone else. Perhaps new skills can be assigned to be learned by different people and shared with the group so everyone does some independent unique learning, and everyone benefits. I spent some time as the Excel guru, but someone else was the CRM guru, and we sourced Tableau support from corporate folks, and so on.

        1. Decima Dewey

          Yes, OP took the initiative to learn the new Excel stuff. Which means OP can help their coworkers learn it faster, that they won’t go down the blind alleys that OP did. And if the “each one teach one” principle is used, the newly trained can train others.

          There will always be people who have to be shown the same thing multiple times. I’ve talked with members of a new job class in my system meant to help our patrons use the public PCs. They vent about people who haven’t learned how to send a document to the public printer, despite being shown dozens of times. But that is not a good reason to refuse to share knowledge.

          As far as “competitive advantage” goes, the goal of the business is to get the work done in a timely manner. Positioning oneself as a roadblock to that goal isn’t a good idea.

          1. Washi

            Yeah, from the way the OP described it, I was imagining a tool that took a lot of fiddling to work properly, but once you know all the settings/rules, is relatively straightforward to use. In which case, it’s just not a good use of time for everyone to repeat the fiddling step on their own. It would be different if the OP were being asked to teach her coworkers “how to use VBA” or some enormous category of thing that could be a whole class, but I wasn’t getting that sense from the letter.

            1. drwho

              I know the skill that OP is referring to, and it is a vast change from how Excel is traditionally used. It does come under an “enormous category of thing”. I’ve tried teaching 3 people, and the third one simply told me he’d rather learn VBA instead. It takes a fair amount of effort and time to learn this. None of my students have.

      6. Jessie the First (or second)

        I think BeenThere has a different attitude than the OP. BeenThere’s first comment was about asking the boss to hire a trainer to come in to teach, rather than putting the burden on BeenThere, who has other jobs to do. So BeenThere isn’t trying to keep knowledge from colleagues – just, there is only so much time in a day, and complex things should be taught by trainers, not already-busy coworkers.

        But OP isn’t concerned, it seems, with not having time to teach – OP specifically talks about wanting to keep the “competitive advantage” that knowing more than coworkers brings. So BeenThere, while you are not trying to hoard knowledge, I’m concerned the OP is.

        1. CupcakeCounter

          I think the OP simply wants recognition and appropriate rewards for their extra knowledge as opposed to “hoarding” it. Having previously been at an employer that does what OP’s company seems to do I get it. I’ll put in the extra mile and work and get nothing but a pat on the back and a “thank for being a team player” then when I share the knowledge, the people I shared it with get the promotion/raise/bonus. I was given more higher level projects because of the knowledge and skills I had but all my discussions regarding a promotion or raise for doing the higher level work were rejected a couple of level up from my immediate supervisor (who really did try hard).
          I left and took my skills to a place where my willingness to learn, test, and assist others is appreciated, recognized, and rewarded appropriately.

          1. nonymous

            Absolutely this.

            I’m assuming OP took a reasonable amount of time to learn new skills and figure out what customization is needed for her workplace. But training is unlikely to cover all the Reasons for Things – it’s likely to focus on activities that are directly applicable to their workplace, with any customization already set up. So when colleague implements the tool or technique they will be much faster because they didn’t have to distill or customize. And if one is only judging by the turnaround time, it even looks like the later crowd is performing better than OP.

            Now in a healthy org of peers, there would be reciprocity – OP could trade her Excel wizardry for cross training in tableau or something. Or if she’s the only person training others, there would be some recognition of the value of OP’s contribution, because she’s doing more than the peer group.

        2. BeenThere

          Thanks. I went back and re-read the original letter and you may be right, @Jessie 1st or 2nd. I was likely projecting how I handled a similar situation and read more into the letter than was there. I appreciate people who share knowledge (which is one way I became such an expert) so i do share… but like someone else posted, at some point it should not be my responsibility to show them AGAIN!

      7. reedoo mcbuggles

        They specifically stated to “make myself stand out from the rest”. It is knowledge hoarding and with the worst possible motive. They see their coworkers as enemies/competition…ridiculous.

    2. Tehmorp

      Nor do I. I often get requests to train people on things I have invested significant time in learning, and I feel it does nothing but raise my profile when people are told, “If you want to learn about that, go to our resident expert, Tehmorp,” and I definitely tell people the same if I know that someone else is an expert on some other useful topic.

      And Alison is right on that the short training is unlikely to make the coworkers experts. It’s going to help their workflow, but everyone is still going to know who the expert is for when they need something unusual done. Win-win.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          I’m assuming by POC you mean Person of Contact here?

          And, yes, I agree that the OP very likely deserves a raise for their hard work, the subject line for this letter really put me off. Sharing our knowledge makes the world a better place in all aspects.

          1. Specialk9

            Lol I constantly think that – wait was POC person of color, or point of contact? Oh right, probably this one, in this context.

    3. Roscoe

      I think hoarding knowledge is the least general reading of this. Its something that this person took a lot of time to learn. Its a skill that the company is benefitting from, even though it sounds like they put in nothing to get it. There are probably courses or trainers they could bring in to teach this stuff to people. Instead, they just expect OP to give away the info that they had to put in time to learn with no benefit to her.

      You can say that her learning it was an investment in herself. But teaching it to others does nothing for her

      1. Mike C.

        That’s not true. Teaching people skills means that others will be open to teach you. If you make it known that you’re going to hoard your knowledge, then no one will share with you.

            1. Specialk9

              Yes, as a general thing, but they’ve already put in time to training co-workers. Their real dissatisfaction seems to stem from the gap between being treated as a SME but paid as a junior.

          1. Snark

            It doesn’t sound like her coworkers are putting in the effort to learn this particular thing. Extending that generally seems like a reach.

            1. Pollygrammer

              Also, OP makes it sound like she’s picked up the entire sphere of Excel knowledge, but when she says “I can show them how I do my stuff pretty quickly,” I interpret that to mean she can share only the skills specifically relevant to their job, so they don’t need to learn the whole shebang, because OP can give them only the relevant necessities without that much time/effort on her part and she’s reluctant to do that. That is absolutely knowledge hoarding.

        1. Dust Bunny

          This.

          Also, this person seems to assume that she’s the only one doing this. It’s more likely that other people are also learning skills on their own time, for their own roles, that also benefit the company. If, at some point, she needs their expertise, she’ll be better off not having the reputation of being the person who can’t share.

          I am my department’s wizard for certain types of research but I’m happy to share any and all of my skills because the net result is that we serve our patrons better and the whole department looks like rock stars.

        2. Jill

          Sure, Mike C. This is true in the general human connection context. But this is work. The greater the level of knowledge that your employees possess, the greater the benefit to the company. In this case, the company has already benefited from great savings on one project that OP was able to use thier skills on.

          And in return, instead of a bonus, a raise, or a promotion…OP is asked to train everyone else. In other words, their only reward for doing great work is….more work. In a workplace context, that’s demoralizing.

        3. Been There, Done That

          It’s not a given that teaching others will make them open to sharing with you. I work with the most information-stingy people I’ve ever known in my life.

          A certain amount of knowledge sharing should be expected. But there are limits and boundaries. The skills you invested your time, money, and work to build are YOURS and the company has no claim on them. If you use them at work and your company benefits, but doesn’t want to compensate you appropriately AND they expect you to be their unofficial trainer, frankly, what’s the point?

      2. Yorick

        I’m an analyst. If I take tapdancing classes on my own time with my own money, I’d be pretty mad if my employer wanted me to use those skills or do a training.

        But if I learn new Excel skills and then apply those to my job, my employer can decide they want the other analysts to do the same thing, and my employer can ask me to show the coworkers how to do that thing.

        1. Midlife Tattoos

          Tap-dancing is not relevant to your or your coworkers’ jobs. If you have a skill that is relevant to the work, it’s not out of line for management to ask her to share.

          1. Yorick

            Exactly. I feel like some commenters are making a case for OP’s skills having nothing to do with work, as though she took a cooking or makeup class. But of course she got these Excel skills so she could do her work better.

    4. KHB

      I do understand the concept of feeling frustrated that your effort and skill isn’t being appropriately recognized and rewarded. And if “hoarding knowledge” is a way to exert some control over the situation, I can definitely understand how that could seem appealing in the moment.

      1. JokeyJules

        KHB, I’m with you. I feel like OP should share if reasonable, but should still be recognized (financially, at least) for their hard work to become so knowledgeable on their own and by their own gumption, especially since it has only saved their company a considerable amount of money.

    5. MLB

      It’s not about hoarding knowledge. It’s about the fact that she took her own spare time outside of work to expand her knowledge, and her company is expecting her to teach everyone else what she took the time to learn in her own time, instead of spending money to train the others. And that they expect her to help everyone because they simply don’t know how to do something (so she’s basically tackling her job plus a bunch of other people’s jobs too), because people would rather have someone else do it than learn it themselves. And lastly, that she seems to be getting the same pay as everyone else, even though it seems she’s much more valuable.

      I’m all about helping others when I can, but if I were in LW’s shoes, I would feel like I was being taken advantage of as well.

      1. Snark

        This is a mildly hardass thing to say, but….honestly, they’re just valuing her time as much as she did. She did it for free in her spare time. Learning a major new process and used that knowledge to bring a major process back in h0use is a value to the employer, not the employee. Obviously, this is monday morning quarterbacking, but if one is in this position, make it a proposal and negotiate compensation for the value you’re adding beforehand. Then you’re not feeling like you’re being taken advantage of when the knowledge you obtained for your employer for free is freely accepted.

        For example: I got certified as a wildlife biologist, which means I can do things like complete endangered species surveys myself, in house, rather than having to get a contractor to do that. I presented a whole proposal to my boss – how much it would cost, how much value it would bring, how much we’d save, and requested a raise. That made it super worth it. If I’d just gone off and done it? Who knows.

        1. Courageous cat

          This is a good point – that it will be helpful for OP in their own personal life with other employers, but they learned it to the benefit of their own employer right now. Hard to word, but I can see that.

        2. Washi

          I completely agree. This feels a bit like being annoyed that someone regifted your gift. Like yeah, it’s not a good feeling, but once you give someone a present or spend your free time learning a job-related skill, you have to expect that they will do what they want with it.

          I stayed late to develop a fancy tracking tool for certain tasks we all do. Then I helped all my coworkers make one for themselves and everyone thought I was awesome. The thing is, I didn’t go into it thinking this would give me some kind of “edge” but that it would improve my work and help others. If I started making comments about how other people can make their own tools and why should I share, I’d be missing out on half the benefit, which is boosting my reputation as being technically proficient AND a team player. And as we’ve seen from all the Brilliant Jerk letters, that’s important!

        3. AnotherAlison

          I think upgrading your skills on your own time is a fairly normal expectation, and it would come off as unusual to ask for a raise for it (although you may want the company to pay for the course, etc.). Of course, I’m coming from an engineering background where PDHs are required for licensing, but we don’t get paid to do those things. You might specifically be benefitting your company, but you’re also making sure you stay employable and can do your job as the tools evolve. I can take a mutually beneficial course under our tuition reimbursement program (even not-for-credit courses), but I also take courses and pay out of pocket because sometimes I want to be better at my job and more marketable. I guess depending on the details, I might expect that my Senior Analyst would keep up to date on the latest Excel tools and share that knowledge.

          1. Snark

            That’s quite fair – I guess I’m approaching this as something of a special or unusual body of knowledge that’s outside the scope of her normal skill set and expected professional development. As you say, it strikes me as the kind of thing you’d ask to do on paid time, for example, or ask for the company to pay for the course.

          2. Beckie

            Perhaps this depends on the industry/field/size of company, but my workplace is quite good at covering the cost of classes necessary to advance one’s skills. The expectation isn’t that you would do it on your own time and out-of-pocket — the expectation is that you would use the in-house resources, during the workday.

            1. Been There, Done That

              My company isn’t always like that. My boss wanted me to learn higher-level Excel features, the firm had a discount arrangement with a trainer, and the class would have been one day. We discussed it two or three times, and when it got to the *moment* for her OK, she said I could take the firm’s own online training. The online thing was beginner level and NOT what I needed or what she said she wanted. I hit the books outside of work, hunkered over the Help function, paid for an online course myself, and thought I was at least working toward advancement by getting those skills. Nope. They’re totally taken for granted now and my job has actually been downgraded.

        4. Specialk9

          I’ve always upgraded my knowledge on my own, and there’s always been a compensation gap. Sometimes one has to change jobs to get the pay/level to catch up. I’ve actually never seen it negotiated in advance like that. (But obviously we all only know what we know.)

          Also, nice to see you back, Snark! I was kinda worried about you.

          1. Snark

            Why thanks! I was just in a gap between my previous and new jobs, and wasn’t spending much time around a computer – when one gets an unexpected summer break, one doesn’t waste it.

      2. Birch

        And that they expect her to help everyone because they simply don’t know how to do something (so she’s basically tackling her job plus a bunch of other people’s jobs too), because people would rather have someone else do it than learn it themselves.

        This doesn’t sound like what is going on. OP says they learned this new stuff that saved the company money on a task that would normally be outsourced to a vendor. So this is above and beyond what the other analysts are doing–they are in fact doing their jobs just fine, if not as ambitiously as OP, who decided on their own to learn something new without any promise that it would lead to extra compensation. It’s not really about the colleagues, it’s about OP needing to negotiate fair compensation for a new skillset rather than just assuming the manager will know that’s what OP wanted.

        1. Specialk9

          I agree that’s the crux of it. I think they’re redirecting anger at feeling like their salary/level is unfair, at their co-workers, instead of focusing on how to approach managers to get better pay/title.

          (Sorry, I know the commas are totally wrong, I just can’t think right now how to rearrange that sentence for clarity.)

        2. Yorick

          I agree with this, and OP should also consider that they may have slightly different roles than she does, even with the same title. OP’s job seems to be a more technical Excel-focused job, but that may be because she’s given certain projects due to her expertise. The others may have projects that usually require less of those Excel skills and more of some other skill that OP may not be so proficient in. Even so, sometimes the coworkers will need to do fancier Excel stuff, so they need OP to share some knowledge.

          OP has the idea that because she’s the best at Excel, she’s the best at her job. That may not be the case at all.

      3. Anonyspice

        The company saved money on firing a vendor, and they’ll save on training if OP shares. The company is turning a nice reengineering profit off OP’s skills without any recognition.

        OP can hoard what she wants until the company gives her a raise or, at the very least, some sort of award.

        1. Snark

          If she expected to save them this much money, and expected to be compensated, that needed to happen on the front end, not the back end. She gave them a gift for free at this point, and I’m not surprised they’re accepting it for the price they paid for it.

          1. Anonyspice

            She gave them a gift out of personal development. That’s worthy of a raise or some other cash amount.

            Just because she didn’t pay for the training means her employer gets to take advantage of her skills. Most companies pay for that kind of training – yet another cost save thanks to the OP.

            1. Snark

              Right! Which is why I think the focus and framing here is off. Her focus is on maintaining control of the knowledge, not on getting fairly compensated. But I think that by doing it on her own initiative and on her personal time, she handed them the gift unprompted, and as a result is now negotiating from a pretty soft position.

          2. Been There, Done That

            Just because it didn’t happen on the front end doesn’t mean OP can’t negotiate now, using the track record as leverage.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          The question isn’t can she but should she. There are consequences to doing taking that stance, potentially pretty serious ones in terms of her reputation and ability to advance.

          1. Anonyspice

            I think your advice to provide resources is a good one. Let the others learn for free like she did, saving MORE money for the company. But I don’t think she should train or handhold, especially without compensation.

            Does the OP need to hold the skill hostage? No, just point out the dip in productivity and provide the resources. If I were her I’d push for a raise, not a promotion.

            But I still think people have valid reasons to keep knowledge to themselves for career advancement. I’m in a position where I teach, but I’m paid to teach. I’m paid to teach those competitive skills for which I was rewarded. OP needs to be made whole.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I think, though, that you’re arguing based on how things should work, rather than how they actually do and what the impact is likely to be to her from proceeding the way you’re suggesting.

              1. Anonyspice

                Yes, I’m arguing how it should work. That’s often within the letters your receive, how things should work. Do I have better advice, no. But she’s not wrong in how she feels.

                1. Detective Amy Santiago

                  But then the OP needs to decide if this is the hill they want to die on. Knowing how these kind of things *do* work in most places, do they want to take a stand on they think it should work?

        3. Pollygrammer

          I would offer a bonus to someone who saved my company a lot of money, yes.

          But if I had an employee with a relevant skill they held hostage until their demands were met…I would not be happy with them. Someone like that is not promotion material, ever.

          1. TassieTiger

            Hmmm…But what is the difference between holding a skill hostage, and asking for a what a person believes is fair compensation for the benefit they’re bringing to the company?

    6. Pollygrammer

      “Demoralized” seems excessive for this situation. Unless the job requires advanced Excel skills (and I’m sure there are jobs that do, but in this case it seems like an advantage, not a necessity) I don’t think those skills entitle you to anything.

      I would say it’s a really good idea to check/negotiate with a boss before picking up an advanced skill if you’re expecting it to get you ahead. And doing it on your own time without concrete evidence that it will get you ahead really confuses me.

      1. Katastrophreak

        Mmm… some data analytics packages begin in the Millions of dollars just for licensing for 3-5 people, not counting training, learning curve, tech support, hardware, etc. Figuring it out in Excel is potentially saving the company upwards of millions of dollars.

        There’s no reason not to ask for a raise, or research outside trainers if OP doesn’t want to do the training herself.

      2. JokeyJules

        it would be demoralizing because of how much money and effort it seems like they are saving the company with no recognition. if i found a way to save my company a contract with a vendor to do something myself and they just said “cool, teach that to tom, steve, and paul” i’d be put off by that for sure.

      3. Genny

        It seems pretty clear to me from the letter that this has been a death by a thousand cuts. It sounds like there’s been a series of events where LW contributes at a high level, takes initiative, etc. only to be denied raises or title bumps later. If that’s the case, the solution has nothing to do with this particular situation and everything thing to do with the overarching problem: she doesn’t think she’s being adequately compensated for the value she brings to the company. The solution there is to either work with management on a raise or to find a new job.

    7. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow

      I think there is a significant difference between hoarding knowledge and being unwilling to cross train your co-workers in essential functions, and developing complex new skills and being unwilling to take days, weeks or months to teach your colleagues those skills.

      And it sounds like the OP took a lot of time and initiative to develop a new complex skill set, that while nice, is not essential to her job duties. If her co-workers did not have the same initiative or interest in develop those skills, then it’s probably going to take the OP double or triple the time to try and teach them how to master those skills. I don’t think it’s appropriate, fair, or realistic.

      1. Dust Bunny

        If these skills weren’t essential to her job duties, then she’s complaining about a situation that she created for herself, unnecessarily.

        1. Snark

          Pretty much. The employer is getting a benefit for free. I’m sure they’re just ducky with that arrangement.

      2. Cat Herder

        +1. I love teaching and training others. It truly makes me feel warm and happy — in fact it is a big part of my job and it’s one reason why I went for this job and continue at it.

        But I too would feel put upon if I developed a substantial skill on my own time, understood how to apply it to solve an important and expensive problem at work, got little recognition of how significant my solution and efforts were, and THEN were asked to, oh hey, teach that skill to Tom, Dick, and Harry. On top of everything else you’re already doing.

        Ask for a raise, OP, and take a look at what you could earn with this new skill at another employer.

        1. Anon Today Anon Tomorrow

          I quite like the teaching and training aspect myself. But, I also know what a massive time suck it can be. Especially, when you are teaching or training those people who aren’t that interested and/or motivated to learn those skills. It’s a full-time job. It’s not a simple side gig that only takes an hour a week. Not to mention, as the trainer you are often held responsible for the work of the people you train. Which I think is grossly unfair to someone who is not being compensated for that additional responsibility.

          Not to mention, the ability to teach/train multiple people a complex skill set, is a skill in itself, and it may be a skill that the OP doesn’t have.

          1. Akcipitrokulo

            Yeah, the time suck is something that would need to be addressed – “it’s taking me X hours to do this. How do we rearrange my existing work stream to accommodate that?”

        2. Wrenn

          I love teaching too! It does take forever and some people can be frustratingly slow learners, but I still love it. I was so good at learning new things and streamlining processes at a previous job that my boss had me write SOPs for all our procedures so everything I knew would be retained. Don’t know why they didn’t exist already, but they didn’t. We worked with some old and finicky equipment, and the previous person in my job didn’t feel the need to write down many troubleshooting techniques or even tell me much about them, so much of my knowledge was hard won. It was great to have a standardized thing to hand to new people and a “seriously, read this before you call me” troubleshooting guide in case things went wrong. Because they did, a lot. I could have hoarded my knowledge like my predecessor had, but all that would have gotten would be the next person cursing me out while struggling to make the damn equipment function properly just like I did when I was new at the job. And also not being able to take time off because I became the only person who could run it.

          1. AntsOnMyTable

            But all your learning was paid for because you did it while working. If she had learned all this advanced excel knowledge on the company dime than I would agree with you. But it sounds like she learned this off hours.

    8. MuseumChick

      I agree. Not everyone has the time to go and train themselves like this. People with small children, second jobs, caring for relatives, etc. Plus, once you have trained people you have a much stronger argument to ask for a raise and more skills to put on your resume.

    9. twig

      Me neither.

      I DO get it if you don’t have time to share skills/knowledge on top of your regular work load — or if the same person/people keep coming to you with the same questions rather than keeping notes so that they can figure it out for themselves next time. OR even people who come to you with questions without even trying to figure it out for themselves.

      But having a general “I’ve got mine” attitude about knowledge or skills gained doesn’t make sense to me. Where ever I have worked, I’ve felt that we are all in this together working towards a common goal (ie making the company run smoothly)

    10. BRR

      I think in this instance a large part is becuae the LW learned it outside of work hours and the other large part is the LW feels undervalued for being a top performer. But it sounds like this might not be something that is above and beyond the nature of the role. Variances in skill levels happen and the frustration is understandable.

      The LW might have a strong case though for a raise and possibly a promotion (strongly agreeing with Alison that top notch knowledge in an area doesn’t equal manager but maybe there’s another option for a better title?). Skills in relation to salary aren’t á la carte though and it’s tough to tell if the LW is a top performer for the role or is vastly outside what you would expect from someone in that position.

    11. Tuxedo Cat

      I’ve read this differently, but I’m also reading this through the lens of getting screwed over in these situations at one workplace. It was not about hoarding knowledge, but it was about not being compensated in any sense for my skills. People in that office did hoard knowledge that I could have used, and I always felt like I was taken for granted in many respects.

      This may not be the case for the OP, but I have sympathy if it is even though I think the issue might be that they’ve done all this extra work and aren’t being compensated for doing more complex things.

      1. EvanMax

        There is a super valid world of difference here.

        But the answer isn’t hoarding knowledge, it is in suggesting that you are not a great teacher (even frame it as opportunity you’ve identified for yourself) and so you’ll need to partner with some one else who can do a better job of both understanding what you’re putting out there, and then disseminating that out to others.

        Framed right, you can spin this as both you doing everyone a huge favor, and you having a career growth opportunity (in learning how to teach better.) The whole situation, spun properly, because the center-point of a great performance review and/or a great story to tell at future job interviews.

    12. Marie

      Speaking from my own situation: It becomes a problem when you’re overworked and expected to take hours of your week indefinitely to constantly train your coworkers, most of whom are senior to you and have been there longer. My non-profit organization does not pay overtime, often I am working extra hours unpaid while also being expected to be the “go-to” for everything technical since some of my coworkers can barely use a computer. I’m not hoarding information, I’m happy to answer quick questions, but my department thinks sending every new hire my way for hours worth of training (for things I learned on my own time) without a moment’s notice, when I’m already struggling to meet my deliverables is OK when it’s not. If they want their employees to learn certain skills they should be willing to invest in training them.

      1. Natalie

        It sounds like your organization has much, much bigger issues then whether or not coworkers should generally be expected to share their knowledge, though.

      2. Indoor Cat

        I kind of boggled just now at “does not pay overtime.” IANAL, so, what do I know, but I thought overtime laws were pretty explicit. Didn’t know there were loopholes. That seems…really not okay. Even if it is technically legal.

        When I worked as a 911 operator, they couldn’t afford overtime in our county, which meant working out a system where a certain number of hours per week was, basically, paid time to decompress. Unfortunately, working five 8-hour shifts a week could easily run into overtime because, you know, you can’t switch out in the middle of an emergency, so going well over the length of your shift was not unusual.

        People were irritated about no overtime, but we also didn’t have as high a rate of burnout and, since people were definitely working less than 40 hours a week, they had open time to pick up a part time job.

        The idea that an employer can tell someone to work over 40 hrs / week and not pay time-and-a-half sounds like such bs to me. I’m sure there’s a legal loophole, but there really shouldn’t be.

        1. Le Sigh

          If you’re exempt in the US, overtime laws don’t apply. Upside is I have somewhat more flexible schedule as long as all of my work gets done. I can knock off an hour early to pick up my dog at the vet and I don’t have to make up for it, so long as the work is getting done.

          Downside is overtime isn’t a thing. Key in these situations is to have a well-run organization that takes care to look out for its employees–so sure, you work long hours one week to finish a project, but no one cares when you leave a little early for the doc or just to decompress after the long week. Otherwise, you’re in a situation like Marie.

        2. Marie

          There is no loophole. It’s illegal. They’re a major university in Canada and anyone who has tried to sue them has lost. So it’s either work the unpaid overtime or get put on a PIP because you can’t meet your targets on time because if you’re working overtime it’s because you can’t manage your time properly.

    13. Wrenn

      I get it. Basically it comes from bitterness. When it feels like you are the one doing all the work, it’s easy to become bitter. If you’re the one always having to train others, always being the go-to person for questions, it feels like you’re back in school being the only one in your group working hard on the group project while everyone else does the bare minimum. It’s a huge time suck, and if it’s always you and only you, it wears thin very quickly.

      Take this as a learning experience. It’s clear that your company will ask you to share your knowledge and skills with your coworkers. Talk to your boss honestly about how much time it will take to train others. Maybe your boss doesn’t realize how long it will take. A few hours isn’t much to ask, really, but a few days is a different story. Your boss likely considers this cross training to be part of your job, and if you think you deserve a raise, now is the time to broach that subject. If you get blown off, it might be time to look for a new job.

    14. Indoor Cat

      +1 Your username is perfect for this comment!

      But, that said, I get it. To me, it’s part of valuing myself. I think Alison’s key advice here– that LW should present the case that she should get a raise– is vitally important. Asking for a raise can be nerve-wracking, even for a confident person, and a lot of people just don’t do it. But, clearly, LW did a valuable thing, and the company wants her to do it again (by teaching).

      Her work-skill is in high demand and low supply– she’s the only one that can do it right now! So, economically, it makes sense to try to get paid more for it. Honestly, I’d be demoralized too if I learned a skill or knowledge base that successfully helped everyone and then I didn’t get rewarded for it. I wouldn’t think of it as hoarding knowledge so much as understanding that teaching / learning is work, and I deserve to get paid for the work I do.

      1. EvanMax

        The trouble is when she is arguably keeping the skill scarce on purpose, in order to increase her perceived value.

        Let’s not forget that if she’s the only one who knows how to do “This One Weird Excel Trick” then she’s the one who has to do this task every time. So the time spent training her colleagues doesn’t necessarily come out of no where for her, it comes out of the time she’d be spending doing all of this work by herself, instead of having her colleagues participating too.

        Yes, there’s that capitalist feeling of “I have something of value, I should try to monetize it”, but you have to account of short term versus long term monetization. Would you rather own a diamond right now or a diamond mine soon (and if the issue is that “soon” never comes, then that speaks to other issues in the firm that often are going to prevent you from getting the real value of that diamond too.) You are more valuable to a firm as the person who can go out and get this info and share it many times over, versus the person who knows that one thing.

        1. Indoor Cat

          Hmm. So, here’s where I’m getting stuck. When you say, “and if the issue is that “soon” never comes, then that speaks to other issues in the firm that often are going to prevent you from getting the real value of that diamond too.” How can you tell beforehand what kind of company you’re in?

          It seems like, to me, a company that respects the value of an employee– so, the company that will eventually be a metaphorical diamond mine– would either already offer a bonus or some kind of reward when the employee saved them millions of dollars, or, at the very least, wouldn’t have anything against an employee who did good work and taking initiative asking for a raise.

          If they turn down the raise, or, beyond that, if they react negatively to even asking for a raise– despite LW giving additional value to the company (by bringing in these new skills)–then what are the odds that they’re a diamond mine kind of place?

        2. The Captain

          EvanMax says “The trouble is when she is arguably keeping the skill scarce on purpose, in order to increase her perceived value.”

          I disagree with your comment. The skill is scarce because the other employed analysts have not kept up with the new technology. The skill is scarce because the company is not paying a trainer to come in and teach the existing analysts this skill. The skill is scarce because the company has not paid the market value to hire other candidates who have that skill.

          The LW saw an opportunity and took it. SO now that she has enlightened the company that this skill “is a thing”, it is incumbent on the company to do the usual and customary thing to get that skill set. And it is not by pressuring the only person who took the initiative in the first place to increase that supply.

          1. Been There, Done That

            yes

            I’ve seen this topic a number of times here, and I’m always amazed and what a hot button issue it is. Obviously people have had different experiences with their employers on this, and very different viewpoints.

            1. The Captain

              One hundred dollars says that all the people who claim this is “knowledge hoarding” are the same people who are always the askers of information and never the givers.

              1. drwho

                I have to agree! Those who learn on their own, and teach others, know how difficult it can be to do either. There is no guidance, no clarity, not many sources of information until you find the right methods for you, and finally, no support to customize this skill for your workplace.

    15. EvanMax

      Think of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. These people have their one or two “precious” pieces of info that they think make them special. While people will argue that it’s about time constraints on teaching, or all of that, these same people wouldn’t be happy to learn that a co-worker also put in the time themselves to learn this stuff, because they want to be promoted for knowing a thing, not for the initiative that they’ve shown in finding the knowledge (and often, have trouble discerning the difference between the two.)

      There’s also a fear of obsolescence. When I was in charge of communications for my synagogue youth group there was a secretary int he front office who would insist on re-typing all of the member’s mailing labels every month. She would pull out her hard-copy log of membership, then type all of the names in to Word Perfect, print out the labels, and have me check over them for errors. After fixing any errors and re-printing, most importantly, she would close her file without saving. Every single time. When I tried to explain to her that she could save the file for next time she tried to play dumb and techno-illiterate, and as a teenager I didn’t feel confident pushing the issue. Even back then, though, I knew what she was doing, and why. She was making herself a necessary part of the process, rather than doing what was best for the organization.

      I have a reputation at work of being a person who cross-pollinates info among teams and divisions. I built this reputation deliberately, because I believe that being the person who can find a process or platform, and share it out with everyone, is far more valuable than being the only person who knows how to print the mailing labels. There is no aspect of my current role that I can think of which I would like to silo off and be the czar of forever. (and make no mistake, if you’re the only person who knows how to do “This One Weird Excel Trick”, and you’re unable to teach it, then you’re setting yourself up to actually be “too valuable to promote/transfer” rather than setting yourself up for promotion.)

      1. LQ

        This last part is so important. As long as you hoard that valuable information you are setting yourself up to not get promoted. At a good company or bad. At a good company because they don’t want to promote the value of hoarding information and at a bad one because why they want to lock you into that job without a promotion forever.

        I constantly try to give away all the information in my head so I can move onto a better, more interesting role. And a lot of times that is just more interesting work within the same paygrade. But I like the more interesting work better and it looks better on my resume if I really feel my skills are being undervalued. And if you really feel like your skills are undervalued put them on a resume and shop them around. That’s entirely a viable options.

        But hoarding should never get a promotion. I would never want to be at a company that promoted hoarders.

      2. drwho

        I have always shared what I know, and I am happy to. But knowledge of processes and systems, while valuable, is not the same thing as an uncommon technical skill. I can share process knowledge in a jiffy, I cannot teach someone my skill unless they are highly motivated to learn. As someone else pointed out above, trainers are also held responsible for the trainee’s work results, which is an extremely unfair ask of someone whose core job does not include training.

    16. Persimmons

      Spoon-feeding professional development to people who are too lazy to do it themselves =/= hoarding knowledge

    17. Miss Displaced

      Well… If you’ve spent a significant amount of your own time and your own money to take classes and learn something (especially software) that makes you an expert, that’s a career differentiator. Should you be expected to give away that capital for free?
      Do you expect a doctor to treat you for free? It’s not hoarding knowledge, it’s about expecting to be paid fairly for your expertise.

      Now, it’s differet story if the employer pays for the training, or it’s done on the clock. In that case the employer is investing capital in you.

    18. Burnett

      This doesn’t sound like knowledge hoarding. It sounds like someone who’s being paid to be an analyst, and is now being asked on top of that to be a trainer, with no change in compensation. It’s not OP’s job to train her co-workers; that’s the company’s responsibility. And clearly current management can’t teach these skills, since it’s always falling to OP to do it. It sounds like OP has been willing in the past to assist co-workers, but teaching an entirely new set of skills isn’t the same as helping out on a small project.

      Training is an entire industry. It takes more than being a subject-matter expert to train people effectively. If OP’s company wants them to take on that role, they should compensate for that additional responsibility and time away from OP’s primary work duties. Or, they can hire someone else to conduct training. But to say that not wanting to teach your coworkers how to use an entirely new set of skills is “knowledge hoarding” is kind of missing the point imho.

  2. BeenThere

    …forgot to add… I was already one of the highest paid so for me, it wasn’t a matter of position or money. It was a matter of time… mine (which is expensive given my level of pay). And these are skills that many can learn if they devote the time and energy that OP and I did.

  3. JokeyJules

    this is tough..
    on the one hand, you worked hard to build those skills. On the other hand, you want to be a team player.

    I agree, if you spent years building those skills yourself and it would involve a considerable amount of time teaching to others, you shouldn’t be expected to do that. but if it’s a nifty trick you picked up over the years and would take a short amount of time to pass on, I think it would be better to show that.
    The fact that you are so much more knowledgeable than your colleagues seems like a very fair and deserving reason for a raise to me… whether you share this knowledge or not…

    1. Anon today

      There is also a difference between teaching people to use the process you developed and teaching them how to develop their own. Teaching others to use what you developed should raise your profile and not take a significant amount of time while teaching them how to develop it is much more involved.

  4. Snark

    I’d just also add that any skill needs backups. Yeah, OP, you mastered some difficult and obscure processes and realized some savings and got recognized for it, but you did that to do your job, right? The job your employer pays you for. I think you merit a pay increase, because you added value to your labor and experience, but fundamentally, this is a work-related skillset of yours. If you get hit by a llama truck tomorrow (llamas are terrible drivers) they will still need someone to back you up, because it’s a job function that you perform. You don’t need to download your brain, but getting a few other people to a point where they can perform basic daily work if you’re not available is a reasonable expectation.

          1. Marthooh

            Hey, now, I think that’s getting pretty close to speciesism! Hooves, hands, or tentacles, aren’t we really all the same inside?

    1. rubyrose

      Came to go down the backup route, and Snark has covered it for me. Would also say that you may need to write down some basic information so if you were hit by the llama you could point to that and the fact that you had gotten others to be able to do the basics is enough. Maybe task those other workers to document as you show them? Your manager should be concerned about this backup aspect.

    2. MuseumChick

      This is a really good point. Plus, as I stated above, by training her co-workers the OP with both be able to add that to her resume but also be able to make a strong argument for a raise.

      Hording knowledge has not been a good look for anyone at any place I’ve worked.

    3. Midlife Tattoos

      So very much this. As a manager, I’ve had unfortunate experience of someone being out unexpectedly and something they were responsible for went wrong, and nobody else knew how to take care of it. I didn’t think, “Oh wow, Fergus is really valuable to the company because he knows this thing nobody else knows!” I thought, “Why didn’t Fergus train anyone on this?? ” And I wrote them up for having a crucial task that nobody else knew about and couldn’t duplicate in their absence. I’ve never looked kindly at people who hoard knowledge. It’s a much more favorable look if you share at least the basics so someone can cover you.

      1. Wrenn

        I’ve *been* the person who was the only one who could do Crucial Thing X. It actually sucks. The ego-boost you get from being “indispensable” fades real fast when you want to be away but can’t. I wanted so badly to train someone else to do the Thing, but alas the budget was tight and we were shorthanded. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to work on holidays, weekends, while sicker than a dog, etc. because Crucial Thing X ABSOLUTELY HAD TO BE DONE and I was hungry so I did it. My boss wasn’t happy with the arrangement either, for the exact reasons you mentioned. If I got hit by a bus and really truly couldn’t do Crucial Thing X, everything would have been completely screwed.

      2. En vivo

        ‘Why didn’t Fergus train anyone on this?’

        Why didn’t you, as the manager, ensure that someone was cross-trained? And you wrote him up!? Am I missing context here? Unless Fergus had been instructed to train someone and refused to do it, I’m not understanding why he would be written up.

        1. Midlife Tattoos

          I agree this sounds rough without context. All of the analysts are required to have items specific to their job documented and they are to train their backups. We are in production support so no work could rely on any one human. This person had not shared a crucial task for reporting to a government agency, because he was using a technology that nobody else had access to or knew how to use. He thought this made him valuable, but from my perspective it made him a big risk.

          1. biobotb

            But if you were this person’s manager, how was it not your job to make sure his backup had been trained?

            1. Midlife Tattoos

              I agree that ultimately it fell on me as his manager (and I’m the one who solved the crisis), but this was a senior analyst, someone who was well-compensated for his work and was expected to perform at a high level. Everyone on my team knows I’m a stickler for this kind of thing (it’s written into their goals and performance expectations). I didn’t know he was using tools that nobody else knew how to use (including me), as it was knowledge he’d brought from his previous job.

      3. Plague of frogs

        At my last job, we had a knowledge hoarder. He even locked scripts that he wrote so other people couldn’t use them. He was let go as a result. His knowledge was really useful, but he had made it less useful by hoarding it.

    4. Paige

      I would personally LOVE it if my company backed me up on me teaching others my obscure, power-user skills. At the very least it would spare me several dozen eye rolls when others complain that something is “too hard” or “would take too long.” Then others might be able to help me out more, the quality of our work might improve as a whole, etc. Yes, they probably won’t fall down the google-hole the way I did and develop an intuitive understanding of the software, but they’ll have more capacity AND the language to improve more in the future should they choose to do so.

      I also see the OP’s perspective that it’s frustrating to not be recognized for being a rock star. Been there – welcome to non-profits. They should though push to get a raise, or at the very least keep a really good portfolio of their work for future interviews.

    5. Lora

      This.

      Signed, the lady who had to come to work with a nasty sprain on Friday when she really should have stayed at home with ice packs, except nobody else could do the thing.

  5. Mike C.

    Umm, well, I hate to say it, but datasets in the millions of rows aren’t all that big.

    Also, being able to stretch out the capabilities of Excel in the manner in which you speak is like bragging about tying a lot of stuff into the roof of a minivan when most folks would rent a U-Haul truck – there are so many easy to use tools for larger datasets that expanding Excel that way seems somewhat pointless.

    So that being said, it makes perfect sense for your manager to ask you to do these things.

    1. sg

      yeah, i’m reading this and wondering why OP isn’t moving out to stuff like R or Python. there’s a lot more capability and frankly seniority to be had with those tools! no where i’ve been would count “excel wizard” as a senior analyst.

      1. alice

        I came here to say this. If you want leverage in terms of skills, learn a language like that. As others have said though, there’s usually only benefit to sharing that knowledge. Teach yourself some R, then offer to be there to guide your coworkers if they ask questions or need pointers. You become the subject matter expert, all work on the team is streamlined, win-win for everyone.

        I think the lack of raise/promotion is an entirely separate issue.

        1. Lilo

          I mean you just can’t assume that your own side project will lead to a promotion. I use my programming at work, but I am actually a non computer science field, and no programming is even remotely required for my job. This is just something I learned in high school and college and play with, along with others in my office. I would not expect a raise from knowing something that, while helpful, isn’t required. Same thing is true for my second language (Spanish). It is super handy and I help out coworkers with it, but not even kind of required for my job.

          1. Snark

            Or, if you’re going to become the local SME, make it a proposal, as I said above – make a case for a raise or title change before you acquire the new knowledge, not after. You might get a no, but then you don’t waste your personal time on something that won’t be materially valued anyway.

            1. Anonyspice

              Companies are going to want to see the skills in action before they fork out the money. How else do they justify the ROI for the raise based on those skills.

              Not to mention that OP didn’t know that she was going to develop this skill (she did it on her own time) and didn’t know she would engineer out a vendor. She deserves the raise now because her skills paid off.

              1. JB (not in Houston)

                But OP knew she was in the process of developing the skill while she was learning it–she didn’t just wake up one day to find the knowledge had been imparted to her in a dream. And she certainly knew when she was in the process of developing something that would replace the vendor. She could have, at that point, gone to her employer and said “I think I might be able to do X” and make a proposal then.

                It’s not too late for the OP to ask for a raise or bonus for her work. But wouldn’t it have been better for her to know going in whether it was something the company would compensate her for? So that she didn’t spend her time doing it only to feel bitter (understandably so) about not getting compensation* for it after the fact?

                *It does seem, though, that the company sees her as a rock star employee, even if they don’t compensate her like one, and that’s not nothing. Or at least, it’s not nothing if you like things like job security and having a good reputation. If this company has a pattern of not compensating for better performers, though, she should take her skills elsewhere instead of letting her feelings of being under-appreciated fester and leading her to develop an attitude about team work that won’t serve her well at future employers.

      2. buttercup

        This is true but you would be surprised at how many (sizeable!) companies are dependent on Excel. *shakes head*

    2. Lilo

      Excel is great for somw things, but definitely doesn’t have the power to handle truly big datasets. I used to program with it in college, but when doing really complex work you need something better.

    3. Dan

      Yup. I work with very large data sets and do substantial analysis with them… and the most I use Excel for is doing a quick look at some CSV files.

      When an employer isn’t valuing a person’s skills at market rate, then the person should take those skills somewhere that will. Data Analytics is a hot topic right now.

      However, from a “market” perspective, this is where the OP is going to find challenges: The general market demand for advanced analytics/big data/that-sort-of-thing isn’t for people who can claim Excel bonafides and nothing else. 75% of the technical staff in my division holds an MS or PhD – “Excel” alone will not even warrant a phone screen, no matter how much of a guru that person is.

      OP saved the company money, and that deserves recognition. But beyond that, OP isn’t in a terribly strong negotiating position.

      1. Phoenix Programmer

        Yes! But the reality is that most orgs over use excel. People laugh when I tell them I hate excel and it’s not the best tool for analytics…But you are the Excel guru! Not by choice. Not by choice.

    4. Phoenix Programmer

      Ueah being an Excel guru can help your career but only to a certain extent.

      That said I see R come up on this site a lot … last I used R it was freeware specifically not for commercial use. Did that change is there a commercial license now? I’d love to be using R again vs Excel, Oracle SQL, and batch files.

      1. J.B.

        TBH if they want anyone to use R instead of Python they would benefit from opening the license. For your purposes take a look at Power BI. Desktop power BI is free. Although I don’t super love it you can do R scripts, connect to various databases, and make charts. I found this:

        2.11 Can I use R for commercial purposes?
        R is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 2. If you have any questions regarding the legality of using R in any particular situation you should bring it up with your legal counsel. We are in no position to offer legal advice.

        It is the opinion of the R Core Team that one can use R for commercial purposes (e.g., in business or in consulting). The GPL, like all Open Source licenses, permits all and any use of the package. It only restricts distribution of R or of other programs containing code from R. This is made clear in clause 6 (“No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor”) of the Open Source Definition:

        The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

        It is also explicitly stated in clause 0 of the GPL, which says in part

        Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program.

        Most add-on packages, including all recommended ones, also explicitly allow commercial use in this way. A few packages are restricted to “non-commercial use”; you should contact the author to clarify whether these may be used or seek the advice of your legal counsel.

        None of the discussion in this section constitutes legal advice. The R Core Team does not provide legal advice under any circumstances.

        (link in reply)

    5. Les G

      Maybe, sure, in a perfect world. But your analogy falls apart when we consider the reality that a lot of folks in a lot of offices just have the minivan. If you’re moving your family cross-country, by all means, take the U-Haul. But if my boss says “I’ve got a minivan and an assload of crap” and I say “but did you know there are U-Hauls?” I’m not doing my job.

    6. anonners

      There are better tools than Excel for some tasks, but introducing them to a team that isn’t comfortable or capable of expanding their skillset doesn’t do anyone any good. It especially makes you look like you value tech over people.

      1. Been There, Done That

        Tu parles, Charles.

        I work with folks who think it’s hot tech to fill a header row with color. They mainly use excel for multi-column lists. God bless ’em, but the smugness gets a little thick at times.

      2. TonyTonyChopper

        ding ding ding!

        As a business analyst in a specific field (and a hot commodity in my field, as llama wranglers are often not good at “tech-y” things like excel……yeah I’m never going to be able to get any of my clients or the teams I support to look at reports outside of Excel. We’re trying to move to PowerBI now, and it is still a struggle for those outside of our department to grasp it even though PowerBI is a Microsoft product and DAX is just a hybrid of VBA and excel formulas.

        I mean long term I want to learn R and Python (and I used SPSS back in my college days but I’d need a refresher if anyone wanted me to use it now), but the truth is that learning those skills at this point would be a waste of time (now in a few more years, maybe…at which point I’ll do some formal training then)

    7. ronda

      Excel is readily available to many accounting analyst when programming / database tools are not.

      My guess would be these are analysts in accounting. lots of excel skills, not a lot of programming / database skills.

      We use the tools we are able to at work and if you are in accounting, it is usually excel.

  6. Myrin

    I agree with all of Alison’s advice but would suggest a minor change: instead of saying “It took me a really long time to learn all of this”, wouldn’t it be better to say “It took me [specific number, even if it’s just OP’s approximate but realistic guess] to learn all of this”? I can see a manager hearing “a really long time” and subsituting it with whatever she wants to think or what someone relatively ignorant of the subject could assume (for example, I know basically nothing about Excel, so I have absolutely no frame for parsing a “a really long time” regarding it; is that a month of vigorously repeating the things you learned every evening? A year of basically making Excel your hobby? Who knows? Certainly not me!). If you give a hard number, it’s difficult to try and play that down.

    1. Julianne (also a teacher)

      I completely agree with this. I’ve been in a similar position for about a year now (and there is no indication that things are going to change), and attempting to quantify (or even just make more transparent) the process of learning the skills I needed to teach others was really helpful in both getting my manager to back off a bit and in getting certain of my coworkers to drop the attitude that I was hoarding knowledge. (Although one coworker then did a complete 180 and started getting really snippy with me about how complex the thing was, and how on Earth was she supposed to do A, B, C, D, and E…but there is no making some people happy.)

    2. Wrenn

      If it really will be a long, multi-day ordeal to train coworkers to the OP’s level, the OP needs to address that with their boss. A definitive number of hours (or whatever makes sense) that the OP spent learning these skills is much harder to brush off than a vague “a lot of time and effort”. If it took you X hours a week for a month to learn this, say so. For example, “It took me 80 hours to learn this over the course of a month” holds a lot more meaning than “It took me a lot of time and effort to learn this.”

      And who knows, maybe the boss will realize that it’s not feasible for the OP to do that for their coworkers. Or the boss might say “cool, your job for the next three days is to train Sally and Bob on these processes”. It’s happened to me.

      1. nonegiven

        Then you have to come back and say, “OK Sally knows about half of it now but Bob is too dumb to learn it in 3 months much less 3 days.”

    3. nonymous

      Talking about details is really useful to help management set expectations appropriately.

      It’s a completely different order of magnitude between a colleague replicating what OP has identified and documented versus coming up with a solution they historically hired out to a vendor. If I were OP’s coworker I would be really mad if management offered me the first type of training and expected the second type of output. The difference is enough that I could see staff who aren’t able to make that jump simply turning it back to OP, and others may actively avoid OP because she has become the stain of extra work.

      Honestly I question OP’s diligence in getting her normal analyst tasks done in addition to doing the work of a vendor. If she is actually accomplishing both roles without benefit of raise or some work reallocation, she may not be a rockstar and really be a martyr. If some of her normal analyst activities were reassigned due to this project, her coworkers may feel overworked as well.

      1. TardyTardis

        But now she’s done it, the company will expect it from her all the time. And not pay her any more for it.

  7. WellRed

    Aside from the knowledge sharing thing, please make a case for a raise. And, I can assure you, even if others get the skills they probably still won’t match yours. You’ll still be the excel wizard.

  8. Amber Rose

    It sounds to me like you’re kind of hoping your employer will just say, “Hey, you did great, here is money and a promotion.”

    In an ideal job, that’s what would happen. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here, and doesn’t necessarily mean your efforts aren’t recognized, it could just mean your boss is focused elsewhere. Assuming you’ve otherwise had a good experience with this person/company, try talking it out first

    If you get turned down, all those accomplishments will look pretty amazing on a resume.

    1. Doug Judy

      And sometimes there just isn’t a position to promote someone to. I’ve been there where I’ve done something amazing but really they aren’t going to create a new position or fire someone who’s doing a good job just to reward me. Sometimes you just have to put it on your resume and wait for the opportunity.

  9. And So it Goes

    Whoa, bucky, I respectfully disagree with Allison. You put in extra time and effort (was this on your time or the company’s??) if on your time I would very much push for some extra pay and extra responsibility. You owe your employer 8 hours honest work a day, not your advanced skills that they benefit from, you are advancing your career while also assisting them in the process.

    That all being said unfortunately you don’t have much room to negotiate . You are an employee, not an independent contractor or consultant. However, I applaud your guts in trying to wrangle a better job out of the situation. I don’t know all the moving parts so I cannot recommend for or against. In the end it may cause more resentment than the gain. A small part of me is saying go for it! Good luck in whatever you decide.

    1. Pollygrammer

      “You owe your employer 8 hours honest work a day, not your advanced skills that they benefit from”

      Do you mean that OP should decline to utilize their advanced skills for their job until they get a career upgrade? I wouldn’t call that “honest work.”

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        I took it more as “this is a skill you developed on your own time, and your employer does not own it and cannot instruct you to share it with others.” But I could be misinterpreting.

      2. Lilo

        In my office there are a group of us who write macros to automate certain tasks. Not everyone has the skills to write these, but you bet we share them with the office. I just don’t see why I wouldn’t.

        My job does rate me on extra contributions to the office. We give a list of contributions (like volunteering to cover for a long leave or volunteering for events). Those macros go on the list. Being rated very highly in that prong can make up for deficiencies in other elements of the rating.

        1. IceTea4Meee

          But what about sitting for hours training your co-workers on writing macros? Or developing and conducting an in house training program so that everyone can write macros? And being available for troubleshooting everyone’s subsequent problems? Or having to develop macros for your coworker’s specific project? All this on top of keeping up on your own tasks and projects. That’s more or less what’s happening to the OP and quite frankly I don’t think that’s fair. Especially unlike in your case there doesn’t seem to be any tangible benefit provided by the employer.

      3. And So it Goes

        No, what I mean is that if in fact she learned it on her own time she owns that knowledge, it is not work product. Granted, she brought it into work and such so they (employer) are benefiting from it. As far as sharing it or doing the training, she does not owe them that.

        Again, this becomes murky because she is in fact an employee with that whole minefield.

        1. MuseumChick

          This is why most job descriptions include “Other Duties As Assigned”. Training your co-workers on a skill you chose to bring into the work place very solidly falls under that.

          1. Been There, Done That

            I respectfully disagree.

            One could also make the point (although it might be hard to implement after the genie is out of the bottle) that if one brings in a skill and uses it to the benefit of the company but it doesn’t enhance one’s position, one is justified in taking that skill back out.

        2. Pollygrammer

          Only skills you pick up on the clock should be used for work…?

          Say I’m in school part-time, on my own dime, for an MBA. Should I hold all my new skills hostage at my job until I get some additional benefit out of the company for them?

          1. Duffman

            I’m going to use this for jobs I don’t want to do.

            Sorry, I can’t answer the phones. Learned that skill on a Sesame Street phone you didn’t pay for.

        3. Yorick

          Knowledge is never work product, though. If your company paid for you to take an Excel class, you could still use those Excel skills at another company or in your personal life.

          My job pays me to perform a set of duties. I use all sorts of skills that relate to those duties, regardless of where/when I learned them. If I develop a new process using that skill, they can expect me to teach that process to my coworkers.

          Here, if the coworkers need real training and it’s not feasible for OP to just give them a few steps to follow, OP can just tell them where to go to get it.

          1. nonegiven

            They can expect you to teach how to use the process you developed, I don’t see how they can expect you to teach how to develop their own process. They’d need to hire a trainer for that and even then not everyone will be able to do it.

            1. Yorick

              I didn’t get the impression that they were meant to teach coworkers to develop new processes, just to teach these new things the company is now doing.

      4. Washi

        Yeah, this is just not how the world actually works. You get a promotion by taking on higher level work, then management sees that you are capable of more, then you can talk about a promotion and hopefully find them receptive. I feel like the lesson And So It Goes drawing is “don’t take on higher level work” but really, the lesson is that if you are consistently contributing above your level and your employer isn’t recognizing that accordingly, and that makes you unhappy, you should take those awesome skills elsewhere.

        1. Dan

          Yup. I posted this elsewhere in the comments, but the trouble OP is going to have is that the market demand for big data analytics is for technical skills above and beyond Excel. Excel alone isn’t going to get one very far in the broader big-data/data-analytics field.

        2. J.

          Agreed. And the timing of that conversation should probably be before the company cancels their vendor contract. Somewhere along the way between “Hey, I’d like to learn some additional excel skills” and “now they want me to train other people and they don’t appreciate me” OP’s boss made a decision to stop using a vendor and put a certain amount of work on the OP’s plate. If it’s an important enough task that it needs to be done right/well/reliably/etc, it’s not a decision that’s going to happen overnight without consideration. That’s a better time to negotiate a raise or promotion or whatever title bump would make you feel appreciated, not hold the information hostage after the transfer of responsibilities has already happened.

      5. Tuxedo Cat

        I interpreted as the OP was hired to do x and is now doing x + y (or the complex z tasks). I think there is a legitimate argument to that, if doing more additional tasks or a completely separate set of tasks is more than what you were hired to do. Imagine you’re hired for an entry level job, even though you have advanced skills, and your employer wants you to use your advanced skills without compensating you adequately.

        1. AnotherAlison

          I work at a decent place that has normal career progression and annual raises, but I’d argue the opposite of what you say. Maybe you were hired for X, and technology evolves and we don’t do X anymore. Or, you got really good at X, and now you can easily do X and Y in 40 hrs a week. I feel like your job is to provide the company with 40 hrs worth of work for what they pay you. (We don’t routinely hire people for jobs below their skillset, so I’m having trouble imagining how that may play out in practice. . .like if you’re the receptionist & I’m giving you analyst work, then yeah, you’re underpaid. If I hired you as a data analyst 1, but your skill are really data analyst 3-level, then I say you do the work and you have a conversation about raises in 6-12 months, but you took the job, so it seems odd that you wouldn’t use all your skills available to do work.)

          1. Been There, Done That

            This happened to a number of people I know during the recession. A lower level job beat no job at all.

            1. Cedrus Libani

              Happened to me too. Back in 2009, I was hired (and paid!) as an errand girl, and I was grateful for it, because I was in dire need of a paycheck. But they’d seen my resume, so…I was also their sysadmin and their automation engineer, while making 28K/year in a high COL area.

              I went into this knowingly, as did my employer. I was severely overqualified, but also desperate. They had a backlog of tech stuff, but had nobody qualified to even hire someone. I stayed for two years, then left for something better.

              I’m also of the opinion that I get paid to do what my employer wants. I get to decide if I’m willing to stay on, given the pay and the work. But while I’m on the clock, I’m not going to pretend I don’t know how to do stuff. If nothing else, it’s experience, and it goes on my resume to attract people who want to pay market rate for those skills.

        2. Yorick

          I don’t know, I kind of got the idea that OP was hired to do x but is doing x faster because of great Excel skills, or is maybe doing x+ (like a more complex x project, but still basically x).

          Sure, OP is now doing a project that used to be handled by a vender, but my thinking is if OP is able to do this analysis in Excel now that it can handle bigger datasets, it wasn’t a terribly complex analysis to begin with.

          1. nonymous

            Maybe it wasn’t terribly complex, but it could be that their systems and/or data quality is such that it is a non-trivial task to deal with the data wrangling step. All the time that OP is working on the previously outsourced project is time that she is not available to do other duties.

            I would make an analogy to vacuuming one’s house. It’s not that most people can’t do it (usually), just that their time/energy is occupied elsewhere.

        3. TardyTardis

          Ah, you know all about *my* former company! Of course the company is going to work her like a dog without any extra raises, it’s the way a lot of them work.

    2. MuseumChick

      I have to disagree. You owe your company the best work you are capable of. Advanced skills are a part of that. Doing the bare minimum is a good way to see get a lot of raised eyebrows from management which typically doesn’t lead down a good road for the employee.

      Learning a news skill does not equal a raise and/or promotion. Being a team playing and showing some management skill in training your team members so that if you get hit by a bus the skills won’t be lost are is much better strategy to getting what you want.

      1. TardyTardis

        Yes, and then the company keeps dumping more on you for the same salary everyone else is getting for doing less.

  10. LinesInTheSand

    I come from an industry where continuous skills development is absolutely critical in order to stay current and employable. It’s also an industry that makes heroes out of people with “side projects” that they do after hours, on their own time. This severely disadvantages anyone who wants to leave work at work (e.g. anyone with family care taking obligations).

    You might talk to your boss about encouraging more on-the-job skills development. Then you get to show off your success story about learning new skills without being responsible for training up your coworkers. If they want to push harder, that’s on them.

    In general, I’m in favor of a culture where everyone is on a growth path because it always benefits me to have coworkers who are as strong as possible in their positions, but my industry is collaborate, not competitive, so YMMV.

  11. MagicUnicorn

    Looking at it from the employer’s point of view, it does not exactly make sense that you created and implemented this amazing Excel-based work product that saves your company money and time and that they love, but are reluctant to show others how to use it. Refusing to show them how it works sounds like a career-limiting move.

    1. Naptime Enthusiast

      This. Not only does it make OP look like not-a-team-player, but they can never move to a new role because the company is handcuffed to the tool. If nobody else can use it effectively, then OP will never be able to be promoted away from this because it is dependent on her skill set. Never become irreplaceable.

      1. Akcipitrokulo

        That is a good point – it is possible that sharing their knowledge will free OP to be able to be promoted, instead of “we can’t promote OP – who’d do excel magic?”

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        Yes. Not only that, but this is how people end up writing in that they can’t take a week of vacation because no one else knows how to do what they do.

        There were tools I created in one position years ago that were definitely being used long after I left that position. I hope they continue to make things easier for people in that position.

    2. Dan

      Yup. The expert knowledge I bring to my company has been developed over 15 years of a variety of experiences. I can teach somebody what they need to know to accomplish a particular task in a relatively short period of time, but on the whole, I don’t think there’s any way I could ever teach somebody to be me.

    3. MidwestAdmin

      I would agree, but I would think the employer would also view OP saving them a large sum of money by taking initiative and training themselves as something worthy of compensation. Instead they viewed it as an opportunity to ask OP to do even more work by training others. This is like Management 101: How To Piss Off High Performers.

      OP, if you are short on time and can’t actually do your work and train others, I would go the “I have time to do A (My job) or B (Training others), but I cannot do both. Which should I prioritize?” If you can swing both, view it as adding on to the list of your accomplishments which will be great to bring up while asking for a raise, or to discuss in an interview for a better job elsewhere.

    4. sfigato

      I work with databases, and the people in my job function who hoard knowledge don’t tend to have happy landings. None of what we do is rocket science that takes 8 years of intensive schooling to master. We spend a ton of time in x database and get good at it, but basing our value and job function on a set of skills that any reasonable person can learn through casual use is not great. I try to make my value add a, my creativity in using my data skills to problem solve, b, my understanding of the data and what it means for my org and c, my willingness to be a team player and use my skills to help my colleagues. Even if that means training them on stuff I do.
      The flipside of this is that most people don’t want to spend a lot of time mastering skills they don’t totally need for their role, so i feel pretty safe that I have my lane and my colleagues have theirs.

    5. IceTea4Meee

      I can see wanting to hold onto the advantage of a new and rare skill especially if it is in a competitive field. But I also agree there is some advantage in being a team player. The OP can say something to the effect that they just aren’t skilled at or don’t have the time to teach it by make the resources they used available to their coworkers and offer to answer specific questions they might have.

    6. Jackie

      But is the issue teaching the others how to use the tool/product, or how to create similar ones? These are two very different things. She absolutely should teach the others how to use it, and she absolutely should not have to teach them how to create it.

  12. Lilo

    I have to say I see this as a no brainer. We recently had a software update that wiped out of previous functionality. I took the morning and figured out a set of tasks that would re-enable our old functionality on the new system, created a word document with quick instructions and emailed it to everybody. It benefited my organization for one person to take the time to fix it for everyone. I think you can ask for on the clock time and a dedicated training session, but I can’t see refusing to help others reflecting well on you. Sure not to the point of adverse employment but you will look good for future raises and advancement by doing this. Unless your boss expects this training on your own time and it hurts your ability to do your work. Which is a legitimate complaint, I do notnsee the upside to not sharing the knowledge.

    1. TardyTardis

      You took a morning to do this. The OP took considerably longer and saved the company a bundle of money. One of these things is not like the other.

  13. Beatrice

    I’m assuming you’re talking about PowerPivot/PowerQuery?

    If so, then the time to train those skills definitely goes into the realm of multiple days (or weeks, depending on other skills) – so I think the approach of pointing folks towards self-training resources or suggesting they bring in a trainer for a week would make a lot of sense.

    These skills also go beyond the mind-set that traditional Excel has and requires a mind-shift, which can be pretty difficult to teach if you aren’t a trainer.

    1. Persimmons

      This is my concern. LW is being asked to funnel training tools they used through their own experience and pass them on to colleagues, presumably without a background in teaching/training/development. This is a game of amateur whisper down the alley. The colleagues should go straight to the source themselves.

    2. Observer

      That’s a valid point, and one that the OP can bring up. But that’s a very different issue than “I don’t want to do something that will improve my cowoekrer’s skills, because that’s not my job.”

  14. Roscoe

    I’m torn on this. I totally sympathize with OP. It sounds like she spent her own time, and possibly money, on learning these skills. This isn’t like the company sent OP to a training to learn this and now expects her to teach others. That would make total sense. This was something she did on her own to make her own job easier. She kind of gets to keep those rewards to herself. Again, if this was just as simple as showing someone something in less than 30 min, sure. But it sounds like this may be pretty extensive information. I don’t necessarily think you are obligated to teach everyone this info, unless it was something you learned while on company time. That said, what I think you are obligated to do is very different than what the optics of doing it are. You can come off extremely petty if you decline to do it. Again, I think its within your right, but I also think that a lot of managers wouldn’t look favorable on someone who did that.

  15. Antilles

    I don’t know how to say this without coming off way too strong against OP, but…
    If you said something like what’s put here, I would actually take that as a huge red flag against promoting you. The whole attitude of “my boss wants me to help train others, ugh”, “demoralized by being asked to cross-train employees”, “I’ll only help them if they’re my direct reports”, “the other analysts don’t want to spend time for themselves so why should I help”…all of that is an attitude that I absolutely do not want in my managers.
    Once you’re a manager, you’ll still have peer managers to interact with. And as a manager, the entire company’s success rides on your chocolate teapot design group being willing to play nice, share resources, interact with other groups, help people who aren’t your direct reports, and even give up projects/staff to other groups when needed.

    1. designbot

      Agreed. There are some signals that they’ve gotten into a standoff here—OP feels underappreciated so less inclined to share, but the less OP shares knowledge the less they’ll appreciate her. OP only has the power to break the standoff one way, by sharing generously and then pushing to make a more permanent change to a leadership role. But refusing to share is not leadership and will not be a good argument for a promotion.

      1. TardyTardis

        But the more OP shares knowledge, the less time she’ll have for the actual work they’re paying her for (but of course she’ll get whacked if she doesn’t get that done, too). And of course they want all this for free.

    2. Wrenn

      Yeah, the OP’s attitude reads as a bit…. harsh for the situation. I get that training others is a huge time suck and can be very frustrating, and if it’s always you doing the training with no recognition or any form of compensation, it does start to suck. But the way the OP puts it, their attitude comes off as very knowledge hoarding.

    3. Lilian

      My 2 cents on a similar note, I had a colleague who was similarly an Excel and tool-we-used-for-data-analysis-everyday wizard and he was way better at the tools than the other analysts, and as a peer he helped out a lot and saved the company tons of money by automating processes. Then they promoted him to supervise our team, he was absolutely horrible at it. As an entry level analyst under him I suffered a lot because he just wasn’t a manager.
      OP, maybe you do have the needed management skills, but your letter only speaks of your technical skills and contributions as the reason to be promoted to a management position, and the jump from “I am good at this technical part of my job” to “I want and can manage a team well” is not obvious.

  16. HarvestKaleSlaw

    Oversimplifying a bit, but if you are feeling unappreciated for an accomplishment at work, there are three broad possibilities:

    1) They love what you did but don’t intend to reward you for it.
    2) They don’t pay as much attention to your job as you do, and they aren’t fully aware of the significance of what you did.
    3) They know what you did, but they don’t think it’s as big a deal as you do.

    The only way to know which one it is is to talk it over. If it is #1, you know to look for a new job. If it is #2, you can make a good case for a raise. If it is #3, you can get their perspective and go from there.

  17. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

    Alison, I know that asking for a raise would make sense as you suggested, but what if the OP’s request gets denied and they are still expected to share the knowledge? Would it be reasonable in your opinion for the OP to ask for a stipend (or bonus, idk the right word exactly) in exchange for them to have a formal download session where the OP trains their coworkers? I could see the benefits of having somebody internal do the training as opposed to bringing in an external trainer, because the OP would know where the company would need this new information specifically.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I’m not Alison, but I think that would make the OP look seriously out of touch and overly difficult.

      1. Bones

        Would you mind expanding on this? I had a different instinct and would love to learn how this is a faux pas (totally serious!!)

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          In most jobs, you’re hired for the totality of what you can bring to the work — not just to strictly stick to the job description. Your pay doesn’t vary because this week you did some extra work that you don’t do most weeks (and your pay also doesn’t go down when a project gets removed from your job or you have a slow week). Saying “yes, I’ll do this one-time thing if I get paid extra for it” just isn’t aligned with the model we use for hiring/employing people in professional jobs (with some exceptions for some types of long-term changes, like temporarily becoming an interim manager during someone’s maternity leave). Looking at it that way would look out of touch because you wouldn’t be considering the whole picture — like that your manager doesn’t propose paying you less when you have a slow week or when your first attempt at Task X turns out to suck … or the fact that everyone is a combination of pros and cons to an employer and if you refuse to offer the pros without additional money, it’s going to be logical for your pros to carry less weight and your cons to start carrying more.

          1. designbot

            Also I’m imagining how this would play out at most places I’ve worked, and I imagine the response would be “well you know more about this, but remember when Bob led a workshop on X or when Alice spent all day helping you with Y… everybody has different strengths and we expect you all to share them in turn.” If OP finds themselves always teaching and sharing and not getting anything in return, then there are conversations to be had about making them some sort of team lead, technical resource, or alternately about making sure that other coworkers carry some load of knowledge development. But one thing one time is not that.

          2. Grey

            In most jobs, you’re hired for the totality of what you can bring to the work — not just to strictly stick to the job description.

            But you have to draw the line somewhere. Is it reasonable to expect a data analyst to teach a skillset to a group of people, and expect them to be good at doing so? Data analysis and teaching are two very different jobs.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              It wouldn’t be reasonable to penalize them for not being good at teaching the skill if that’s not part of the role for anyone else, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask them to give it a shot.

    2. Antilles

      No. I think that there’s no way asking for a ‘stipend’ or ‘bonus’ or ‘incentives’ would come across as anything other than being pushy and refusing to hear no.
      Especially if their reason is something like “sharing knowledge is part of being a co-worker and team player” – in that case, pushing back for money again (no matter what semantics you call it) is going to clearly indicate that you completely failed to understand the point they were making.

    3. Akcipitrokulo

      Would not be good for OP to take that route… but IMO, definitely a sign to start looking for someone else who would appreciate their skills more.

      And towards that end – “learnt and cross-trained” is more impressive that “learnt”.

    4. Wrenn

      I suppose it would depend on how long this training would take and how many arrangements would have to be made to do it. And also how in depth the training would have to be. Often, you can just tell people how to do X,Y, and Z without delving into the whys and wherefores of it all. Yes, you took the time to gain a holistic understanding of the process, but how necessary is that to teach Sally how to do X? Sometimes it requires a deeper understanding of the process and that’s where things become time intensive and additional compensation would make sense. Much of the time it’s more along the lines of “go here, click that, input this, and there you go”.

      1. Antilles

        Sometimes it requires a deeper understanding of the process and that’s where things become time intensive and additional compensation would make sense.
        See, but the likely response from the boss would be that working with your co-workers and participating in cross-training is just part of the job – it’s an additional duty outside the norm, but no different than if we’d asked you to pitch in on a co-worker’s project.
        “Preparing training presentations and teaching my co-workers will require a lot of my time” is a problem whose typical solution involves rearranging projects or shifting workload so that you can devote a couple hours to training…not cutting you a check to ‘buy’ an extra 4 hours on top of your regular workload.

    5. TardyTardis

      Silly, she’s supposed to do all this extra work for free, and not fall behind on all her other actual work.

  18. neverjaunty

    If all this training hasn’t resulted in a raise or promotion, it doesn’t seem like it’s giving OP the “competitive edge” she thinks it should.

    1. SoCalHR

      That is true, but that could be because 1) its not as big of a deal as OP thinks or 2) the employer hasn’t properly recognized the accomplishment (either because they are ignorant or are bad managers). Its hard for us to know which one is reality, but I could see how it would be frustrating if it was the latter.

      1. Akcipitrokulo

        Or maybe just isn’t their area of expertise and need it spelled out to them – which is worth doing :)

  19. TheWonderGinger

    I can understand this struggle, wanting to help people but wanting people to be able to help themselves at the same time and not rely on you to stop what you’re doing every time they need help.

    I agree with above comments about making the case for a raise (I had to retype that three times because it’s one of those words that look wrong when it’s spelled correctly), and also maybe add “I would be happy to show them X and Y but we should really bring in a trainer or tools for Z”. A meet in the middle solution you could say.

    1. Wrenn

      You can also fend off becoming the go-to person for stupid questions by becoming tediously Socratic when asked the same thing over and over. I’ve done this and it does work. You have to be careful not to just come off as a jerk, and it does take time, but walking people through things will either result in them actually figuring it out or finding someone else to bother with their stupid questions.

  20. Feeling Nauseous

    I understand not wanting to level the playing field when the OP worked hard to advance their skills.

    However, just because you advanced yourself once doesn’t mean you’re done. Keep learning. Keep being better.

    And, yes, please make the case for a raise!

  21. Birch

    OP, it sounds like you don’t think of yourself as part of a team, but as a competitor within your own company against colleagues at your level. It’s really normal to have a few delegates go to a training or learn something and then boil down that knowledge for everyone else. After all, that’s what conferences are for, right? It saves the company time and money on the whole to not have everyone go, because there are always parts of the training/conference/learning opportunity that are “wasted time” like necessary brain breaks or conference socials, or just aren’t applicable to your specific team’s situation, and the experts get to be the ones that understand it fully and can teach the basics to others but retain the cred of being the expert in that particular thing.

    Your frustration at being paid at the same level as your colleagues is really a different question to whether you should spend time teaching them your skills. Yes, if you have more skills, you should be paid more. But you shouldn’t frame that ask as “my colleagues didn’t bother to learn this” because it’s not a competition. Maybe it’s not as relevant to them, or maybe they don’t have the time. You should be paid based on what you bring to the company, not based on how much or little your colleagues bring.

    Whether or not you should teach your colleagues is also a separate question, and is really only about whether or not you have the time and whether it adds value to be taught by a colleague. If you wanted to teach but didn’t have the time, you could ask your manager to help rearrange your tasks to make time. If you think others could learn the skills on their own and it wouldn’t add any value having a colleague teach them, just provide people the resources.

    1. Roscoe

      But in the case of conferences, the company likely paid for the person to go to them, so that expectation makes sense. In this case, the OP spent their own person time, and possibly money, to learn this stuff

      1. Birch

        Right, which as others have also covered—doesn’t make sense. If OP wanted compensation for the learning time, OP should have negotiated that with their manager rather than expecting the manager to read their mind.

    2. Lilo

      I got that impression as well and to be fair, some offices do operate like that. I would never, ever want to work in that kind of place. My work is very collaborative and ratings and bonuses are on very clear metrics that you can meet without someone else failing them. If OP is in a collaborative office and failing to share knowledge, yeah they are going to look seriously out of touch with the office culture. But if the place is more cutthroat, then this letter is more understandable.

      1. Tuxedo Cat

        I agree that the office context matters. I would also throw out another type of office (one I worked in): an office that claims to be collaborative and sharing, but in reality, isn’t on a whole and cherry picks who can get away with that behavior. If that’s the OP’s case, the choice is really to get out.

    3. AnotherAlison

      The OP should also take a step back and see what skills the colleagues have that she doesn’t (even non-analytics skills) and what the employer does value. It could be a situation that the OP is focused on upgrading tech skills and management really wants her to learn soft skills so she could be more management-ready. This whole situation (not wanting to train others & pass on info), kind of indicates that she is not management-ready.

  22. benny c

    …OP, are you talking about PowerQuery specifically? It got rolled into the “Get & Transform” tools in the 2016 edition.

    1. Mazzy

      Good question! I love the spirit of this question but didn’t get how excel changing a bit meant they had loads new qualifications. I’d like to know what exactly were talking about before responding

  23. Rusty Shackelford

    OP, I see where you’re coming from, but maybe it would help if you stopped thinking of the specific knowledge as your valuable commodity, and think of the ability to gain and impart that knowledge as your specialty instead.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Can you imagine interviewing the OP?

      Tell me about a time you went above & beyond for your employer.

      Well, I learned this skill that was really valuable and saved them thousands of dollars.

      And why are you looking to leave?

      Because they expected me to share that skill with other people and I learned it for myself.

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        Well, to be fair to the OP, I think it would be more like “because they didn’t appreciate the effort I took to learn that skill on my own time.” I’m not saying I agree with the OP’s take, but I certainly understand how she got there, and I think if she felt her hard work had been recognized/rewarded she’d be more willing to share it with others.

  24. EmilyAnn

    From OP I sense frustration about career growth and pay. I don’t think OP would be frustrated about teaching co-workers new skills and feeling that is making a significant contribution to the team and company if they felt valued by the organization as a whole.

    1. Naomi

      Bingo. I agree with everyone saying that part of a team player attitude is being willing to share knowledge, but I get the sense that OP’s reluctance to share stems from feeling underappreciated at this job and like they need to force the company to acknowledge their worth.

  25. Bones

    I’m being voluntold to teach my coworkers how to write…. not getting paid for this, of course :X

    1. Tardigrade

      This is the sort of thing I think OP needs to consider. “How to write” is so broad and I don’t even know how you’d begin to teach that at work, but “how to write external correspondence with marketing-approved wording,” or what have you, is probably doable. And I think it’s reasonable to tell your employers that the former isn’t something you’d be able to realistically teach to your coworkers, but you could specifically cover X and Y to get them started.

  26. Ja'am

    I can sympathize with both sides of the issue.

    Normally, I like to help people and share what I know. But when I know something others don’t because I took it upon myself to know it, and this knowledge/skill sets me apart, I want to keep it for myself. This is because it’s not often I have a leg up/something special to offer. I want to keep it because I’m very insecure, hehe. Can’t say how it is for OP, but this is how I can sympathize. If I share what makes me special, I am no longer special… again.

    I also deep down feel like if I do share what I know with others, it will give them the (in my mind, very good) opportunity to take that and run away with it, accomplishing better and greater things than I could have, because now that knowledge is in the “perfect” hands for that. And that would really beef up my already swole insecurity, haha. It’s not that I don’t want to see anyone else succeed, it’s just that I feel like I often don’t have much to offer.

    However, from the other side, I do feel like it’s unfair/unsportsmanlike/selfish to hoard knowledge like this in such situations.

    HOWEVER, in OP’s position, if I had to, I would be inclined to get the others started on the right track so they can teach themselves, but in a way that can give them guidance so they wouldn’t have to struggle like I did. (And maybe flex some of my word processing/design skills and make a tutorial or guidelines.)

    All that being said, if I we’re OP I do think I would take Allison’s advice to push for a raise (or promotion) because I would be performing higher and having more knowledge and skill than my team. I can understand the feeling of “I’m getting paid to do [my job], not to teach it to others. If you want me to teach all that I know because you think I’m the best, tack “Lead” onto the end of my title, and make my pay reflect that.”

  27. MuseumChick

    I once had to teach my 68 year old co-worker how to do mail merges. It was not a fun process for either of us. It took weeks. I can’t imagine looking at my boss with an attitude of “Well I taught myself how to do this so I don’t want to train anyone. They can do it themselves.” And its true, no one ever tough me how to do mail merges. I literally learned it from tutorials I found online.

    Here are the steps I took:

    1) I showed her the process, carefully walking her through each step.
    2) I repeated step 1 but had her take notes.
    3) Started a new mail merge but had her tell me what to do, which buttons to press etc.
    4) Wrote up a how-to guide for her in case I got hit by a bus.

    She still asks me questions and I don’t think will ever fully understand how to them but training her fell under “Other Duties As Assigned”.

    1. Been There, Done That

      What’s the significance of “68 year old”? Do we assume older people are more computer challenged than younger ones? ‘Tain’t necessarily so.

  28. Anna Badger

    Keeping the skills you have to yourself right now is a really good way to be valued for only what you can do right now, at the level you can do it right now. All it takes then is for someone else to know a bit more, and you’re overtaken.

    But if you’re the person who is always learning and who is always feeding that new knowledge back into the company and using it to lift your colleagues’ skills, you will be valued for what you can learn in the future and the ways you will be able to grow *everyone’s* skillsets, and that is a higher, more sustainable value which is much harder to overtake.

  29. Admin Amber

    This is an opportunity to shine. First note that you learned this software. Next, do teach it to the co-workers. Third document the heck out of what you taught and how you did it. Remember you can’t fix stupid, but you can say you did your best to train the co-workers. This is a great item for your annual review, discussing a raise to bring up during bonus time.

    1. Katy

      +100 to this. Asking you to train your co-workers and serve as an ongoing resource for answering their questions IS your employer recognizing your hard work. If you demonstrate good coaching skills throughout this process, you will be making an even better case for a promotion to manager than you did by just learning the skills in the first place.

      1. TardyTardis

        But if she’s getting paid the same as the people she’s training, they’ll realize that no matter how hard they work, it won’t matter.

  30. Open Source Kate

    In many programming teams there is a “lead engineer” role that is not a manager but a senior IC. It pays better and has a lot of mentoring and teaching responsibilities, is involved in interviewing, creating and maintaining standards for the team’s work, pair programming, and learning about the newest improvements in technologies. If you internet search “lead engineer” or “lead engineer vs engineering managers” you should get information about the role. I think it sounds like you have a great case for “lead data analyst” and you should very much propose it.

  31. YB

    I don’t really understand where the LW is coming from here.

    “When I took the initiative to learn this on my own, I did it to gain a competitive advantage and make myself stand out from the rest. ”

    Yes, exactly. And one way to stand out is to be the person your manager can count on to share your knowledge and make the whole team stronger. You haven’t yet received a pay increase/title bump for having this knowledge, but what’s likelier to serve you better going forward—being a team player who taught your colleagues all of this valuable stuff, or refusing to? If you’re choosing between reaping the positive benefits of sharing your knowledge, versus the neutral option of just keeping it under your hat, I would still say to share your knowledge…but at this point, you’re choosing between reaping the benefits of sharing your knowledge versus suffering the consequences of refusing to when you’ve been asked to. It looks like an easy choice to me.

    When I started at my current job, I was placed under the informal supervision/mentorship of a relatively junior colleague who taught me how to do the job. He had previously been somewhat lightly regarded, but the great work he did training and mentoring me helped to show management how valuable he is. It was, “Wow, this person has all these skills!”, plus, “Wow, they’re really good at explaining those skills and leading other people’s work!” Less than a year later, this newfound talent for teaching and quasi-managing has led him to much greener pastures. I tend to believe that being helpful at work ultimately pays off in terms of your reputation.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        The point is that your reputation does pay off in tangible ways over time by giving you access to better jobs and higher pay, and making it easier for you to find those.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        But your reputation keeps you employed and makes you more marketable in the future.

      3. Snark

        I get where you’re coming from, but I learned I was getting laid off in January, and by mid-February about six of my old clients had personally called my now-boss and asked her to hire me for the position I just started – unprompted, independently, apparently very complimentarily. I didn’t even interview and I was selected. Six years of reputation building paid off massively.

  32. Trisha

    What about seeing if your company has a role/budget for a special assignment for you? We have a role in our organization (government) specifically for trainers (it’s for our legislation, etc. but still – they can and do teach basic computer stuff as well). Instead of looking for a management position – perhaps a temporary special assignment (at a higher pay grade – or with a bonus) might be a better way to float this out than saying, “Make me a manager”. Come up with a plan on how long it would take you to train people – how long they would be away from their desk (perhaps look at partial training days to lower the impact on productivity). Take the tact of “This is what I’d need to do this” instead of “why should I do this.”

  33. Cheesehead

    I feel your pain. I’ve been in that situation before. I know some people see it as hoarding knowledge, but I see it as taking the initiative, on your own time, to update your skills/learn new skills to allow you to do your job better. You did it because you enjoy doing that and wanted to make yourself stand out and be more marketable. Well, you did that, but you weren’t recognized for it. And that sucks. So yes, I’d definitely push for the raise, separate from any talk of training. And stress how you’re that go-to person for questions, how you did it on your own time (much like night classes), and you’ve used that knowledge to save the company $X ALREADY and likely a lot more in the future. Be blunt and play up the amount of time it took you. You went above and beyond your job description to do this. And if they say it’s part of your job, then ask why all of the other people at your level haven’t done it, if it’s truly part of the job….the same one that everyone has?

    Way back in the dark ages, when I was a few years out of college, I worked for a company that was rolling out a new product. It was PC based, except there was not a PC in the office. So I, as the person who was supposed to train the client in how to use it, couldn’t even learn the new system because we didn’t have a system to learn it on! But I had my own PC, and installed the software on my PC to be able to practice. Nights, weekends….I learned it all myself. We had a national diagnostic center, and I taught myself things and solved problems that even they couldn’t solve, all because I had an aptitude for it and dug into it where others didn’t. They flew me to another district to solve a problem for a major client whose installation was going badly. All of this was because I took the initiative to learn the new system, on my own time and with my own equipment. There were also no corporate training materials for clients. I had to make them from scratch for my first client. Then, one day months after the first installation, all of the trainers got word that we finally had training materials coming from corporate! Yay! I opened the package and my jaw dropped….more than half of the “training materials” were just photocopies of MY OWN DOCUMENTS that I had created for that first client! During review time, none of that was ever mentioned. Them flying me to that other client and putting out their fires was never mentioned. No bonus. Nothing.

    In retrospect, I should have really asked for more, but I was young and not as assertive as I should have been, and I naively thought that my bosses would see what a great job I was doing and would reward me appropriately. Nope. So, OP, start playing up what you did! Start talking it up! Make it seem like it IS a big deal, because it really IS! (I’m wondering if you might have been downplaying the extent of what you did, hoping to ‘dazzle’ them and thinking that of course they’d reward you, but then they never did.) Tell them explicitly the number of hours that you put in, *on your own time*, both in researching where to find the information and then in learning it and practicing it. Let them know that it can’t be done in a quick training session. And start talking about how much it would take to put together some training, and how it would take you away from your regular job duties to not only put the training together, but also to train your coworkers. Always be positive that you’re so excited that everyone will know how do these cool Excel things, but be very realistic and up front and vocal about the time it will take everyone, so they realize what a valuable resource they have in you.

    THEN make your point about a raise. AND start looking around for other jobs. For my story, I was eligible for a promotion (by time in the position) and thought that OF COURSE I was a shoo-in for getting it. And nope, I didn’t. In fact, despite my MANY accomplishments with the new system, my boss downplayed those and brought up ridiculous things, just to be able to downgrade me in some areas, because raises were tied to your performance rating. He gave me the minimum rating and raise he could get away with. And…..I was gone two months later. And the promotion to the next level that I thought was so automatic? Never mentioned. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My one regret is that I never got to tell them that nickel and diming me with my raise after all that I had done to make myself an expert on that new system pretty much pushed me out the door. Their loss. So, OP, if your current bosses don’t (monetarily) appreciate the skills you’ve gained, then find a company that will.

    1. annejumps

      “I opened the package and my jaw dropped….more than half of the “training materials” were just photocopies of MY OWN DOCUMENTS that I had created for that first client! ” Cheesehead, I’m a technical writer and this gave me a good laugh.

  34. Akcipitrokulo

    It sounds to me as if there are two issues here that may feel like one.

    1) OP’s hard work to improve their knowledge and deliver actual financial advantages to their company has not been recognised.

    2) OP is being asked to share hard-earned knowledge.

    I know that because they come from the same root cause – the extra effort OP put in – they appear to be very closely linked, but it may be helpful to separate them out.

    1) You’ve contributed in a demonstrable way to the company, and have become more valuable in the process. This is something to bring to management as part of a case to get a raise and/or promotion. I’m not sure from the letter if OP’s done that yet or not – if not, now is a time to do it!

    2) It’s good to share knowledge. It’s good FOR YOU to share knowledge; your reputation increases, and it’s something else to put on your CV if the requests for a raise/promotion don’t come off. “Learned advanced excel” is good. “Learned advanced excel, became SME for team and trained colleagues” is very good :)

    A caveat to that is that if it’s going to take some time – put this to your manager as “Absolutely! I estimate it will take X time to prepare a short course, and Y time to deliver the training – how do you see that fitting in with current priorities and deadlines?”

    Overall, I get sense you feel underappreciated. It may be your company honestly haven’t realised that your worth is increasing, and need this pointed out to them – but if they either don’t recognise it, or recognise and and choose not to reward it – then having a good rep and another selling point is not a bad thing.

  35. Icontroltherobots

    I agree with Allison, in that anything that took you months to master cannot be taught in minuets to your co-workers. I am also the “excel” person. I would imagine you’re using something like power pivot with a static dataset and once you set it up, basically everyone gets to reap the benefits.

    OP fight the fight! I am in an industry where knowing how to use excel/certain complex software is essential and is a game changer. I had a similar thing happen where we in sourced a project because I had the skill to complete it.

    It is not your job to become an excel trainer for your co-workers. If your employer wants to go that route, they can hire Mr.Excel. I have not been asked to “train” my co-workers thankfully, but I would also refuse.

    last comment – if you’re that good at analytics and your employer isn’t ponying up the $$ to go with your skills, ask for that raise and start interviewing!

  36. ResuMAYDAY

    OP, you are at a negotiating crossroads here. NOW is the time to either negotiate for a raise, or for ‘special project pay’. Put together a proposal that covers what you will be able to teach everyone, to the point where they are fully functional at this program you created. Don’t give away all your secrets in this proposal – just provide an abstract and what the learning objectives will be. Also include an overview of the time you put in to this to become as advanced as you are, and then put a dollar sign on it.
    Don’t blame your boss for asking you to share info. That’s a reasonable request. But it’s also reasonable for you to advocate for yourself. You’re the one who has to establish the value of your knowledge. Good luck!

    1. EmKay

      My answer might have been “sure, what do you want me to drop from my workload to give me enough time to teach this to everyone?”, but I like yours better!

  37. Lisa

    I hate Excel! That said, I can manipulate a sheet, but don’t ask me to build something. My point: is OP expected to teach the entire new process, or just how to use what she created for the specific needs of the company?

  38. Frankie

    I think this whole thing depends on the context. If this is part of a pattern where your job is leaning on you to support and develop your coworkers like this, that’s one thing (and you wouldn’t merit a management position due to that, but maybe more pay/team lead status or something similar, potentially). But if this is a one-off, take an hour and teach your coworkers, this seems like really normal knowledge-sharing. In a lot of jobs, the goal is not to outperform all your other coworkers (although it’s normal to want to distinguish yourself, of course), but to contribute to a team effort.

    The tone of the letter did strike me as pretty competitive, which makes me wonder if there’s a feeling (beyond this Excel thing) that you’re outperforming your peers with no reward. If that’s the case, that’s a separate conversation and not something you’d want to use an Excel tutorial as a bargaining chip for. But bringing up the money you saved the company due to your own initiative/improvements is something for sure.

  39. Sevenrider

    I have been in the same situation. I knew a software program very well and was constantly asked to train/help coworkers. When I inquired about being put in a formal training/support role, I was told I did not have the “background” or “education” to justify a title change and raise. I stopped answering questions, my standard response was “You can google the answer” or “I don’t know”. When my manager questioned me about it, I just said, well, the questions I am being asked, I don’t have the education to answer them correctly. I left that job eventually and am now in a place where my skills are appreciated but not exploited.

      1. Sevenrider

        She paused for a beat and then just shrugged. It didn’t matter much to her, she was on her way out too. It was a very miserly place as far as salary and bonuses. It could have been a great place if not for that.

  40. EmKay

    Putting myself in the OP’s shoes, this would not sit well with me. I took my personal time outside of work to learn this skill, and saved my employer lots of money. Not only do I not get any recognition via a bonus or a raise, now they want me to teach this skill to all my colleagues, in addition to my current workload, for also no extra compensation?

    Yeah, no. I will gladly point my colleagues to the resources I used to learn, though.

    1. Starbuck

      It doesn’t sound like the employer asked for all that free work, though. OP set themselves up for disappointment on that one.

      1. Been There, Done That

        Just because employer didn’t ask for it doesn’t mean they didn’t benefit from it. Do they want employees who’ll never reach higher and learn more?

    2. krysb

      I must be a total a-hole, because I have a fundamental problem with people who do nothing towards their own development. Maybe it’s because I’m just a curious, want to know everything about everything about everything type of person, so I don’t really understand how others are not curious or don’t like to learn, I don’t know. Like, I can show you how to use x program, but I refuse to teach you the basics of how to use a computer. I expect you to either figure that out on your own, or take a class, or something. If you go home and watch tv for five hours, I lose all sympathy, because it’s not a time issue preventing you from doing anything.

      At my job, we made professional development, whether it’s simply reading a book or learning an entirely new skill, a part of everyone’s position, and it’s part of what we are evaluated on. We’ve funneled people to free resources, offered to pay for programs, and the learning can be done on the clock (all of these employees are hourly). If they read a book and participate in the company book club, they can be paid up to $100 per quarter. Only 2 out of 13 employees participate – and they do so by reading books for the book club. The others just wonder why they aren’t getting promoted.

  41. Akcipitrokulo

    I do get the feeling that the issue is more that the company is not appreciating the OP – if through ignorance of how valuable they are, then tell the company! If knowing their worth but not appreciating… then that’s a different issue.

  42. Delta Delta

    Another fact I’d like to know is whether management understands the time/effort/skill going on here. Management may not necessarily understand what it takes to know this particular information, and may believe it’s something OP can easily show/train on in 1/2 hour or so. If that’s not the case, management should be made aware of exactly the class OP took – time, cost, etc., and how it’s helping.

    As a corollary, I once worked somewhere where management had certain skills and the support folks had certain skills. Management could NOT understand why it was that support needed help/training in areas X, Y, or Z when the company went through a software change. It wasn’t until one of them finally said (in a very exasperated, almost crying voice), “people aren’t born knowing this stuff!” It was all so very tone-deaf and wasn’t until someone started to lose their bananas a little bit that management finally understood there was more to it than they thought.

  43. Bea

    Having the knowledge gives you power and a skill to add to your resume. You’ll get another added skill and resume boost if you can transfer the skills.

    That said, not all the others will advance to your level because you have initiative and passion they can’t steal from you. So you’re still much more valuable.

    The issue here is a company who doesn’t value you properly. Use them to solidify your resume and bounce to the next thing. The next place who will pay you and promote you properly. They exist. This place is a stepping stone, don’t build your career and life around a step.

  44. Miss Ann Thropy

    Totally Team OP here. She is not hoarding knowledge. The knowledge is clearly out there for anyone who, like her, makes the effort. She spent her own uncompensated time and effort to teach herself a valuable skill. She used that skill to save her employers significant money, and yet received no bonus or raise, or title increase. Now her coworkers get to be paid while she teaches them how to do what she learned on her own, thus saving the employer the cost of a professional trainer, and getting another benefit out of OP. It’s clear that while her employer understands the value of her knowledge and skills, they have no intention of compensating her for the additional benefits she is bringing to them.

    1. MuseumChick

      But couldn’t you make that argument for almost anything? “Sorry, I made the effort to go to college to learn skills X and Y so no I won’t share them with my co-workers because they can go out and learn them if they want.”

      Your skills, of all kinds, are why companies hire people. Plus, not everyone has the free time to do what the OP did. People with kids at home or who are caring for a elderly relative, or who are taking night classes, or insert any number of circumstances. Additionally, I would guess that wonderful phrase “other duties as assigned” is part of the OP’s job description. This falls under that.

      The OP has a strong case for a raise but hoarding her skill like a child with a toy will not make her look like someone most companies would want to promote. Plus, by having a good attitude and being a team player she can show her management skills thus making her case even stronger for a promotion.

      Her company MIGHT be terrible at valuing people, its a possibility, but the OP seems to have an attitude that just because she chose to learn something new she is owed a promotion or a raise. That is just not how most companies work.

      1. Snark

        I don’t find the “the knowledge is clearly out there for anyone with the time and gumption” argument. We live in the year 2018, when with unlimited time, just about anyone could obtain expert-level knowledge on any imaginable topic with nothing but a smartphone or a tablet in one hand. That doesn’t mean all of us have the time, availability, or interest to do a deep dive into Excel on personal time. If the company needs a backup for her new SME role, they’re correct to require that of her. And yes, they should give her a raise, but “do I have to share enough knowledge to have backups in place” is a different question from “should I be compensated in some way for the value I have brought,” and they should not be confused with each other.

        1. Djuna

          Right, and even if OP does share knowledge, it’s going to be less deep/thorough than her own understanding, just through necessary distillation/simplification. Her knowledge will still have a unique value.

          To touch on the individual contributor aspect OP mentioned, I’m one of those. I am also lucky enough to have the time (as well as the interest) to find new tools my team can use, figure out how and where we can best use them, and then bring them up to speed. That’s not part of my job, it’s not expected, but it has helped build my reputation and get me included on a bunch of interesting projects (I really care about being kept interested at work). To balance that my teammates are truly awesome at things that baffle me. Information flows between us all.

          So, for OP, what interests me is whether increased compensation would truly address the frustration with knowledge/information flowing from her to her team and not a lot flowing back. It may be that money isn’t the issue, it’s just masking it. I’d add on a suggestion that she think about that to the rest of the excellent advice here.

      2. Been There, Done That

        I have to say “like a child with a toy” sounds very harsh, judgmental and uncalled for.

        In some ways, that’s exactly the point–OP got out there and learned new stuff and brought it to work. It’s not boo-on-OP if they want to gain from their initiative.

    2. NotAnotherManager!

      Then she needs to find another job where her skills are valued and appropriately paid, not refuse to help teammates because she perceives that she’s worked harder than everyone else. It’s not clear if she’s addressed what seems to be the actual issue (appropriate compensation for unique skills) with management or offered alternatives to training her colleagues (like being provided reduced workload in exchange for running training or putting together help guides or reshaping her role to include some sort of training responsibilities or told her manager that the demands for her time and experience are becoming onerous and they need to brainstorm a solution or maybe bring in an outside trainer). Refusing to help unless offered a management role sits very badly with me, particularly in the absence of other attempts to solve the problem, though it’s certainly possible those simply were not included in the letter.

  45. J.B.

    OP – the goal of training should be to pass on knowledge. Would you be ok with training if it came with a raise or bonus or maybe some reorganization of responsibilities? Here’s the thing from your employer’s perspective – you did some stuff and great, awesome! It isn’t sustainable for you to be the only person doing this forever.

    That doesn’t mean you need to hold hands. Give some good training resources and a general overview. However, your coworkers aren’t necessarily going to use their own time to explore. Nor should they be expected to IMO. Make clear that for this to be effective your employer needs to clear x hours a week for you and for selected people to do it.

    Also, don’t assume that excel will be the answer forever. A friend was telling me about stuff that always used to be done by SAS programmers. And then, well, the young kids found out they could do the same stuff in Tableau and stopped giving work to the SAS programmers. No tool is perfect for everything.

  46. Argh!

    How about asking for a bonus or extra pay that’s equivalent of what a professional trainer would charge?

    1. NotAnotherManager!

      Or negotiating for a reduction in other responsibilities to compensate for the time required to do the Excel training? If OP is aiming for a management position, offering to take on team development would probably be beneficial.

  47. DanniellaBee

    This attitude of not wanting to teach coworkers valuable skills comes off as very petty and unprofessional to me. I work in project management in the IT field and folks share knowledge constantly on all sides as our field is constantly changing and evolving. Even having the thought of resisting knowledge sharing screams not a team player and as a manager I would be very wearing of promoting someone like this because fostering skills in others is very high on the list of what makes a great team lead or manager.

  48. Jane

    Your being asked to train your colleagues and your not getting rewarded for going above and beyond are two separate issues. Unless it would take too much time from your core responsibilities, it would not reflect well on you to refuse to show your colleagues how to do something.

    I suspect your real beef is with the fact that you feel your hard work is going unrecognized and taken for granted. That is a legit beef, but passive-aggressively withholding knowledge to punish your company isn’t going to be the answer. Either directly ask for a raise/promotion in light of your high level of contribution, or, if/when that gets shot down, look for a new job.

    1. Jane

      I will add that I myself am in this same position almost exactly. I worked hard outside of work to learn some things that I could tell were going to be important soon, and now have a higher level of skill than my colleagues, even those who are senior to me.

      The difference is that my colleagues are still uninterested in learning this stuff and just want me to do it for them.

      So, I am doing it for them. And trying to leverage this into a promotion. I may or may not get it, and so I am also looking for a new job.

      But saying “No, I won’t help,” won’t get me either of those things.

    2. Rusty Shackelford

      Yes, this is a good point. It is entirely possible that your managers do take you for granted, and that they really do not understand or appreciate the extra effort you put in. But that doesn’t make it okay to refuse to share that knowledge.

  49. anonners

    As a senior analyst who’s worked on teams where the skill profiles of senior analysts even with the exact same job description were all over the place…one of the things that saves morale is not operating at a level for which you can’t (or won’t) train a backup.

    I’ve worked on a team where analysts had a lot of success with cross-training each other, so we were able to continually push the envelope in terms of our own technical skill and efficiency without creating management issues. Then I worked on a team where there were very large variances in the skill level of analysts, so my cross-training efforts weren’t always effective or they took up far too much of my time. Working at my level of proficiency was creating a liability for my manager when we had analysts who couldn’t be trusted to calculate a weighted average correctly, for instance. It was a situation where it was easier to not use much of my skill set, because doing so would have potentially made my work and time management unsustainable and made my manager think I was entitled.

    If you work on a team where analysts’ skill sets are a bit stronger on average, you may still be an SME, but the knowledge sharing will come more naturally and hopefully be more reciprocal. I wouldn’t call my current office 100% collaborative (there are some people who are allowed to be knowledge hoarders, because of Reasons), but I and our management can trust most of the senior analysts to share their new tricks.

    1. a1

      But this doesn’t sound like cross-training at all, just a one-way knowledge transfer. Which can still be a good thing, don’t get me wrong, it’s just different.

      1. anonners

        You’re right, it’s a bit different. One-way knowledge transfer can be a good thing when you’re in a position that’s designed for that, and when your manager understands the skill disparity on the team, but without those things it’s a serious risk.

  50. AdAgencyChick

    I can see that someone might work out on her own, over the course of hours/weeks/months and with lots of trial and error, a process that is simple to use and teach.

    If that’s the case, OP won’t look good refusing to teach the simple thing — but she should also go to the boss and say, “This seemingly simple thing took me hours of work and testing to develop. I think the fact that I went above and beyond to create this process that will now save the company time and money [bonus points if you can quantify how much time and money] should be reflected in my compensation.”

    If management doesn’t suck, OP should be able to negotiate a raise or at least a one-time bonus.

    1. Observer

      Very much this.

      And, if management IS bad, then the OP can look for another job. “Saved company $X million by implementing new Excel functionality” looks REALLY good on a resume, if you can back it up.

  51. Hiring Mgr

    OP, you’re not teaching a new method for open heart surgery here. It’s not THAT difficult to learn advanced excel techniques if anyone is so inclined.. And as others have said, excel might not be the long term solution for whatever you’re doing anyway.

    What would probably happen if you didn’t teach the others, would be that they’ll get along fine wiht you doing it all as you have been now, or someone else will figure it out and then teach the others which might not leave you looking in the best position .

    Now should you spend hours and hours running free trainings? No…but just point everyone to where they should go and help a little here and there. The last thing you want to be known for is someone who could have saved the company millions and millions of $ but purposely chose not to

  52. Midlife Tattoos

    So, about wanting to be moved up to management…

    Management isn’t like an honor to bestow upon a person just because they’re a really awesome individual contributor. Management takes a completely different skill set (as many,many posts here can testify). If you want to get promoted to management, it would make a lot more sense to be learning the skills you would need for that role. Then you could use that to ask for a promotion. Another part of management is freely sharing any and all skills you have; your goal is to have the team be as successful as possible. If you’re going into it with the attitude that management is somehow owed to you…well, that’s not a good look and very unlikely to actually get you promoted.

    1. NotAnotherManager!

      The other thing about wanting to be promoted – I have never worked anywhere that refusing to perform a particular duty until you received a management role worked. The most successful managers I know are people who led their teams from within before they were promoted. I would be very hesitant to promote someone who was using their unique expertise as leverage *prior to* performance of the necessary work.

  53. Indie

    As a teacher, I dont think the prosposal is practical and that OP’s position in the lead is quite safe! It’s far easier to teach yourself than others; if OP required hours of practise and research so will others; as Alison said you can’t download a brain!

    I think OP’s employers actually misunderstand what she can do and have no idea as to how much work she has put in. They’ve confused the difference between basic fact-memory, understanding of a topic and application of a skill – perhaps they think OP’s prowess is simply due to the fact that she picked up a few handy, easy-to-remember tips rather than the higher order thinking skills.

    If this were the case, Google could provide the print outs. I think, OP, you need to spell out how many hours you needed to practice the skills, what your starting point was (from a decent level of expertise already, I imagine) and offer to make a list of handy resources and links to anyone similarly qualified. It will fizzle out then and there because no one will have the time to put in equal to your labour of love. But you will have undoubtedly shared the knowledge and it may help nudge some other keen beans along.

    But do, please, claim full credit for what you’ve done on your own time and don’t try to teach it wholesale. It will be a disaster because you’ll fail to ‘tell’ what needs to be ‘learned’ and be unfairly pegged as a poor trainer by frustrated learners.

  54. Pippa

    I’d just like to add (with apologies if I missed this above) that OP’s workplace culture, esp with regard to gender, might also matter. There seem to be plenty of workplaces where women can say/do X, but it isn’t heard or valued until a male colleague says or does it. Particularly with regard to teaching skills learned on one’s own time, Sarah might be cautious about transferring that knowledge to Bill only to see Bill be the one valued for having it, while she’s overlooked or regarded as the one who “nurtures” the skills in others.

    Also, in my department, the chair is notorious for taking other people’s ideas and using them to his own advantage – we’re academics, so the scenario is that he asks one of us for our analysis of X, then goes around (including in media) presenting it as his analysis of X. We amass the knowledge, he gets the recognition. Happens with analytical work, random facts, jokes, anything. And sometimes he forgets where he got a particular tidbit and will present it as his own *to the person who told it to him originally* which is hilariously infuriating.

    So I have a bit of sympathy for the OP wanting recognition for her knowledge and initiative. Might not mean she’s trying to disadvantage her colleagues, just that she’d like to be seen – and valued accordingly.

    1. J.

      That’s an interesting dynamic I hadn’t thought about. Around here, we tend to use “she” as a generic pronoun if the gender of the letter writer isn’t clear, but I don’t know if we know for sure that the letter writer is a woman. (I found when I read it that I assumed it was a man – it resonated a lot as my experience with men I’ve worked with, but maybe that’s not fair.)

  55. beth

    It sounds like the biggest resentment you have about this isn’t necessarily the sharing skills part–it’s the part where your company isn’t giving you any recognition for being a rockstar. You went way above and beyond, and instead of giving you a raise or a promotion or anything like that, they essentially went “Great! Now you can teach everyone else to be a rockstar too!” Especially when combined with the lack of tangible recognition, there’s an implication there that it must not have been THAT hard, that it can be easily taught and anyone can do it with a couple hours of training, and therefore it’s not all that valuable of an achievement.

    I can see how you’d want to respond by pushing back. And if there is a logical way to do so, such as “I’d need (X large number) of hours to teach even the basics of this–unless we can find that time, I can’t realistically train people on it,” then maybe you can reasonably do that. But unless you can point to a solid reason like that, objecting to training coworkers on at least the basics of your specialty is going to come off as petty and insecure. Instead, I think you should ask for the recognition you want (this would be great justification to ask for a serious raise!). Consider starting a job hunt if you don’t get it; if your company isn’t the type of culture to recognize rockstar work, they’re not likely to start anytime soon, and there are plenty of other employers out there who will.

  56. BananaRama

    As someone who has mentored tons of folks – people who want to learn, will, and like the OP, they will on their own time and dime if they are that interested. In most of the things I’ve mentored, 99% of the folks do not change a single thing they are doing. It is when the folks previously trained keep coming back to the OP because “you’re so much better at it” or “so much faster” starts to become a problem. Judicious and polite use of “no” are important for the OP.

    However, the real issue appears to be that OP isn’t being recognized for taking the initiative in their professional development and doing more work than before. It’s almost like a back-handed compliment from management, where the OP is good enough to mentor, but not enough be compensated for their extra knowledge. Alison’s advice, as usual, is spot on.

  57. Grey

    I agree with the OP, but because I’m sure they weren’t hired to be an instructor. If you want me to do something outside my normal job duties, I’d expect additional compensation for it.

    Also consider that learning and teaching are two very different things. It’s possible to be good at one but not the other. I’ve learned plenty that I would be horrible at teaching to someone else.

  58. An Ominous Moose

    It’s confusing to me that this could be framed as “hoarding knowledge.” This isn’t proprietary information that only exists within the OP’s brain. It’s not something they’re keeping a secret. It’s just Excel, and any of the coworkers can go out and use the same free resources OP used to learn the same skills. No one (OP included) is stopping them.

  59. Observer

    I am all for helping out as I have in the past, but this new technology is a game changer and having this skill clearly creates separation from the rest of the pack.

    This reads as “I’m only about helping others when it makes me look good and doesn’t really make that much of a difference.” That is almost certainly what your boss is going to hear.

    But as long as I am a single contributor, I do not feel it is my responsibility to give other analysts the skills to advance their own career.

    What does one have to do with the other? As long as you are an individual contributor, it is your responsibility to contribute in whatever way makes sense to your employer, whether it improves your coworker’s skill and career opportunities or not.

    If you try to make this argument to your boss, you will CERTAINLY not be promoted to management. And you are likely to find that it is a generally career limiting move.

    You simply cannot refuse to do this on these grounds. There are a number of things you CAN do, and they are not mutually exclusive.

    1. Start job hunting for a better job
    2. Negotiate a raise / better title based on your increased work and capacity. What you are describing doesn’t sound like a management role, so don’t push that *in this context*.
    3. Negotiate a promotion into a management role, or a role on that track. Base that on the areas that show your strength in management as well as technical prowess.
    4. Use the scripts that Allison provides to set expectations for what you can realistically teach others. If your boss pushes back and says that you need to teach them the big picture stuff as well, you should point out that it’s time consuming enough that you’re going to have to put something on the back burner. And, you could suggest hiring an Excel instructor to do some staff development and teach the big picture stuff.
    5. If you’re concerned about this becoming a time sink because people are going to come to you when they should be looking at their notes etc. set some realistic expectations with your boss. eg “I’m going to provide cheat sheets for functions a, b and c. If people are going to ask me questions that they could answer by looking at the cheat sheets, I’m going to direct them back to that. Otherwise, it’s going to cut into my ability to do my primary job.”

  60. MCMonkeyBean

    Honestly, when it comes to your year end review, which do you think sounds better?

    1) OP learned a lot about excel and became more productive

    2) OP learned a lot about excel, prepared a document summarizing tips and tricks, and held a training for the team to make everyone more productive.

    The answer is definitely 2. If you teach everyone else how to be better at excel, it makes YOU look good. But also, you seem to think it’s unreasonable for your company to want more people to know how to be good at excel. I get that you want to be valued, but knowledge sharing is important because you may not be there forever. Don’t hold your knowledge hostage if it’s easy to share.

  61. h'okay

    I was in a very similar position where I had done the legwork to pull together resources and trained in my own time to understand a system. It wasn’t so much that I had invented a new job or put myself in a management position, but having spent so much of my own time to learn made a vague notion of “show your coworkers” seem unfair. So I organized the training materials into a short handbook/quick start guide and received specific credit for that project. This ensured management understood the amount of effort I had put in, was able to receive specific credit for something, but also was able to put it into action for the business and avoid “knowledge hoarding.”

    1. NotAnotherManager!

      This is a nice solution that gives you credit for your work, provides a resource (other than yourself and your time!) for coworkers, and is helpful to everyone. This is exactly the sort of solution I’d hope to see from a strong performer!

  62. A Teacher

    I ran into this in my old job for a large physical therapy company. I’m a licensed athletic trainer and I also am a certified CPR instructor and have been one for years. I paid for the certification back when I was in undergrad and after grad school went to work for this company. One of my managers somehow found out I had it and low and behold, she expected me to just teach everyone how to do it and they would pay for people’s cards. It wasn’t something I had ever offered to teach at the company and they decided they wanted me to do it without proper compensation–then they decided I should drive all over suburban Chicago and teach it to different high schools we covered, again without any compensation. I finally told them I couldn’t teach it any longer unless there was some discussion about proper compensation. It happened and I continued to cover CPR for them until I came into my current job. At my current job, I teach it to coaches I work with and ask for minimal compensation–think like 15/20 a person vs. the 60/75 I could charge to cover my time; supplies; and card. My current job asked me if I’d do it and if I couldn’t it wasn’t a big deal. The attitude of administration in the school was so much better than in my corporate role.

    1. Nox

      Yes, this was a similar situation I encountered recently. I have a second part time teaching role at an nonprofit adult education center near me that teaches basic Microsoft office skills. Its something I’m very passionate about but I’m still compensated for it by this organization.

      I don’t advertise this in my day job because they will take advantage and I already manage 3 accounts, manage a team, in charge of event planning am a recruiter and perform HR analysis for us -without an adjustment in pay. I don’t want to be the Latina who gets used for a cheap photo OP and a discounted teaching service for an already dysfunctional company. We love to milk minorities and women publicly for attention on LinkedIn to give this fake appearance that we are cool and progressive and it’s just not something I’m interested in pretending we are.

      This doesn’t make me a hoarder either. It’s me placing a boundary on my time,effort and mental health since time is money.

  63. Meißner Porcelain Teapot

    I agree with Alison in so far as that, if it is something that could be taught to the entire team in one meeting/workshop within an hour or so, not sharing will make you come across as petty, uncooperative and entitled. However, if it is something that took you upwards of several hours and potentially money to master, it is totally fair to point that out and suggest trainers or training tools instead.

    However, there are a two more things that I would like to mention, OP:

    1) It seems to me like you are a very competitive person by nature. That does not necessarily mesh well with certain company cultures, so it is entirely possible that you will never get what you are looking for in this company. Be prepared to look elsewhere if you have to and vet the next place properly to see if competitiveness fits well in there.

    2) Related to that, it seems to me like you have not communicated your career goals clearly enough or have, at least, not been consistent enough in pursuing them. I mean, learning this Amazing Thing on your own and then saving the company lots of money is great, but your manager doesn’t have a magical crystal ball that can actually see into your head. Maybe they think you did it to set yourself apart from the rest. Maybe they think you did it because you want what’s best for the company. Maybe they think you want to share. They won’t know what your deal is unless you make it very clear to them.

    So going forward, I suggest the following things:

    1) Do ask for a raise and/or promotion, clearly and politely, but in absolutely certain terms. Follow up. Make it clear to them that this is directly affecting your work-life balance and your outlook on your future at this company. Be polite, but do not beat around the bush.

    2) Please do not ask for promotion into managment. I’m sorry if this comes across as rude, but from your letter it sounds to me like you are lacking in the soft skills required of a manager. You are undoubtedly great at the factual part of your job, but you also seem like a very competitive “me first” person and that is NOT a good personality for managment. A good manager has the following priorities:
    1st – the company (keeping workflow running well enough to make the company money or at least avoid losing money),
    2nd – their team (keeping their employees reasonable satisfied with their job by addressing issues and offering guidance and help where needed),
    3rd – their own career.
    But your priorities seem to look like this: 1st you, 2nd the company, 3rd everyone else. That is not a good mindset for managment. It would only breed resentments among your subordinates and frustration within yourself.

    1. Birch

      #2 is a good point in terms of reputation as well, for future opportunities. As much as we’d like to think opportunities are based only in skill and experience, being someone people want to work with makes a HUGE difference. It’s not a small thing to care about the whole team’s success rather than just your own.

  64. Student

    I understand that you’re proud of your Excel skills. Sounds like you’ve thoroughly earned that.

    However, Excel is the very shallow end of the pool for data analysis. I’m saying this because you seem to have some very off-base expectations around Excel skills overall. If you want to be a great data analyst, you need to learn better tools. Excel is specifically designed to be easy to learn, as a tool for data analysis by people who aren’t data specialists or particularly sophisticated at mathematics, analysis, and statistics. It has its place, even for professional analysts – the same way Microsoft Paint has its place for very simple graphics manipulation, but will never replace Photoshop and similar products for graphics designers.

    You can’t keep your co-workers from catching up to you by using Excel. You can’t get a meaningful leg up on them by learning neat little Excel tricks. Once they’ve seen the trick, they will not have trouble learning it and implementing it. That’s the whole point of Excel.

    If you want to substantively out-compete other data analysts, you need to (1) understand the mathematics, particularly statistics, of your specialization (2) be familiar with relevant algorithms (3) learn to program, or something closer to it than Excel – frameworks like R, MatLab, or Mathematica can stand in for real, full programming to some extent by giving you greater flexibility and clarity than Excel, but still providing a lot of pre-baked functions to use. Python is a good place to start if you want to do the programming route, with lots of pre-baked functionality as well.

    1. thepinkleprechaun

      Thank you for saying this. I was trying to think of how to say it in a nice way and coming up short. One of my pet peeves is seeing people who have something like “director of analytics” in their title and you find out they only know how to use the point and click features of SPSS, they don’t understand the code at all!

      It also makes me wonder what kind of company this is if they have an entire team of analysts and yet they were farming out a task that can be completed in Excel??

      Train your coworkers, you can put it on your resume. But – and I am honestly not trying to be mean here – I wouldn’t dream of applying for data analyst jobs with only Excel skills so I hope you will consider broadening your horizons. Most analysts I know, including my own team, are well-versed in several different languages. We have to know two different SQL syntaxes and SPSS at a minimum, but most of my team also uses R, Python, STATA, or more rarely SaaS, depending on their preferences. I do most of my work in R unless the specific project requires SQL. I’m messing around with teaching myself Java right now because hey why not?

      R is free/open source, and there are tons of resources online that you can use to teach yourself. It’s kind of my one-stop shop, I use it for everything from data import/cleaning/agg to analysis and visualization, I’ve also used it for geospatial mapping and writing apps.

  65. AnonInfinity

    This is a complex issue, and I’m piping in to say that I understand OP’s POV, albeit from a different angle.

    In another life, I had coworkers shove their work off onto me, which resulted in me teaching myself and mastering unique, valuable systems with absolutely no access to outside/company-provided training…and then I was expected to “train” those same coworkers on how to use those same systems, once it became apparent that they needed to be able to use the systems on their own. It was absolutely infuriating that, after my coworkers essentially threw me into the fire to learn their stuff, I had to gently hold their hands and teach them all of my hard-won knowledge. You know, instead of them using their professional development funds to attend workshops, or my company paying for these coworkers to attend trainings, it fell onto me, while the scope of my job was in a wildly, wildly different ballpark. I did end up with a promotion out of it – but I fought like heck to get that promotion, in the midst of a bitter job search.

    So, yeah, I can see why OP is miffed that s/he took the initiative to continue evolving with the field, while his/her peers didn’t, and now the OP is being asked to bring his/her peers up to speed with the industry with no apparent stipend, pay raise, or promotion to show for it. I get the frustration. But I’d probably do it, run it up the proverbial flagpole on my CV, and leverage it into a promotion somewhere else. YMMV.

  66. voyager1

    I had a situation where I learned how to my job very well, where others did not. When management changed I was accused of “withholding knowledge” by the new manager because of the gaps between me and my peers. I was ticked off beyond belief by the accusation. In the end I got a job somewhere else very soon after. My point is, you haven’t been accused of that YET, but if you try to play this situation for a raise or promotion you will be.

  67. Cassie the First

    I get where the OP is coming from, as I was in a similar situation. The frustrating aspects were 1) there was no reciprocity – my coworkers didn’t take the time to learn new things or different ways to do stuff, so there wasn’t anything for them to teach; and 2) I was the lowest paid analyst for a very long time (even to the point where I was making less than the entry-level people) and it didn’t seem fair that I was sharing my knowledge with people making that much more than me.

    That’s not to say that I didn’t share my knowledge – I still did – but it was frustrating and a bit demoralizing. The upside was that my bosses are/were supportive of me, and when they (occasionally) requested raises for me, we could write that I had spent some time training or assisting the other people in my department.

    Maybe the OP can quantify how much training her coworkers is worth (2 hours? 1 hour?) and propose for some kind of “consideration”. Not necessarily a raise, not a promotion, but maybe a temporary stipend? Maybe adding the word “trainer” to her job duties that might eventually lead to a raise?

  68. Data Person

    I’m also a data analyst who learned the new Excel skills (power pivot(DAX) and power query) on my own and used it pretty successfully at my job….and then used it to advance my career (by finding another job) over a few years.

    I’d say you definitely want to look at this as an opportunity. There’s a world of difference between “technically proficient at PowerBI” and “lead my organization’s move to PowerBI by introducing the technology and coaching a team of data analysts to proficiency”.

    You can also use this as an advantage in lots of other ways. You could say, “hey, I’m relativity self taught. If you send me to a course I’ll be able to get good fundamentals and have a course curriculum that I can reuse to walk the team through. ” And then also include a Masterclass in 6 months. (this will mean a big investment by your company into you.)

    And like any other work thing like this…you should really have a conversation and agree that this is a “GOAL” (or whatever terminology your company uses). When you’re yearly performance review comes up it’ll be a topic….and then you’ll get rewarded…(else , privately, you can use the experience to look else where)

    Other thoughts. You never want to be the smartest person in the room. If you find you are, make you you occasionally go and find other rooms where there are smarter people….it’s much easier to learn and move to the never level. Join your local powerbi user group (and make sure that your work allocates time to that….obviously as a way to bring back knowledge). I’d be willing to bet there’s a lot your missing out on.

    Also, think of the alternatives…you say no, and someone else in your group says, “hey, send me to the class and I’ll do it”.

    Lastly, don’t think it’ll be so easy….I’ve found there’s are always a good percentage of people who are happy to do stuff (Excel) the way they’ve always done it and won’t be to fussed to learn something new. And, PowerBI is really changing from month to month…..even if you are successful in reaching your group….they’ll still need someone who stays up to date on these changes and keeps the group up dated. Make that be you.

    Think about it this way, the most famous/successful people in any field eventually become teachers in the field. Either they get paid as teachers or they’re asked to be consultants because they were found by their teaching.

  69. Chatterby

    I’d say a lot of Microsoft Office is not used simply because people don’t know the function exists. It’s a little difficult to learn on your own if you aren’t aware something even exists, or if you don’t know you need it.
    In those cases, I can see it taking a while to figure out if you’re self-learning, but new users, especially younger ones, would absorb the information quickly, which would be annoying.
    There is tons of free, ready-made training floating around on the internet. Microsoft itself has made some that’s pretty good. If you really don’t have the time or inclination to teach them, refer your manager to whatever guides you find and let your coworkers figure it out.

    If it helps, look at it this way:
    If you come up with a class and teach your coworkers, maybe even becoming a point of reference, (as annoying as that is,) then you’ve created an opportunity to demonstrate how you interact with and manage others, which you can use an example later when you try for a management job.
    You didn’t get paid to learn this, or a pay bump after you did, but you will earn money off this self-taught skill since they’ll pay you to teach the others.
    As a bonus: you’ve also cross-trained people, so if you’re ever out sick, need vacation coverage, or need assistance, you have it.

  70. LizM

    I’m curious if OP spent time at work learning these skills, or if it was something she took on in her own time?

    If she was on the clock, I think it’s reasonable for the company to expect her to pass those skills on to other coworkers – they paid to have her learn the system, it’s reasonable that they expect that increased productivity is passed on to others in the organization.

    If it was something she did on her own time, I think it’s more reasonable to say, “I actually spent a lot of time learning these skills, and it’s not something that’s easy to sum up in a few minutes. I’d be happy to pass along the online tutorials I used.”

    Either way, I think that managers often don’t understand how much time it takes to show people new skills on software, and how much time is taken up when you become the defacto “excel expert” in the office. I would clarify with management how much time they expect you to spend working with coworkers, and push to make sure that work is reflected in your evaluation and compensation.

    Too often, “helping” your coworkers ends up not counting towards any metrics when employers look at the productivity of an employee. I’ve definitely been in situations where me taking on a troubleshooting role ended up sucking up all of my time, and the coworkers who dumped that work on me were able to use the time they would have spent struggling to learn our new system to actually produce work. They ended up getting promoted, I did not, because on paper, they were more productive than me.

    So I would say, it’s not about refusing to pass the knowledge on because you’d lose your competitive advantage, it’s about making sure that the fact that you’re viewed as a source of knowledge adds to your competitive advantage.

    1. LizM

      I’ll add…

      When I’m hiring, in my mind, there is a big difference between, “I’m proficient in XYZ systems” (or even, “I’m an expert in XYZ system.”) and “I’ve taught others to use XYZ system.” Especially if I’m hiring someone to be a team lead or senior technical specialist, because in my organization, there’s an expectation not only that senior specialists take on more complex work, but also that they provide a certain level of mentorship for more jr. experts. We have an interdisplinary team, so it’s impossible for managers and leaders to be technical experts in every field our direct reports are, we rely on the more senior technical experts to fill that role, and managers help provide the bigger picture, set priorities, etc. YMMV in other organizations, but if OP is looking to move, having experience training/mentoring others is a big plus in my book, and would make OP more competitive.

      Being a really, really good individual contributor is a different skill set than being a really, really good technical specialist who can lead a team. I would be wary of promoting someone who viewed knowledge as such a zero sum game into a leadership role. OP’s desire to distinguish herself from the rest of the pack may have short term benefits, but would make me wary of giving OP any kind of leadership role in the future.

  71. Anne of Green Tables

    I understand the reticence to spend the time developing trainings for people who have spent little or no time improving their general or specific skills.

    Over the last decade I purchased a computer and software specifically to improve my skillset, subscribed to online services like Lynda, spent lunches, evenings and weekends learning various obviously applicable skills and explored many may-be-useful-later building block skills. I read blogs, manuals, and help forums. I’ve given back to online communities in the the form of answering questions. When the company announces hardware and software upgrades, I do the same upgrades on my computer in advance and for upgrades learn about the new features before the rollout so I am ready to be more productive on day 1.

    I enjoy helping others and frequently provide quick help or troubleshooting for my coworkers. Helping others troubleshoot also often builds my skills. What makes helping others difficult though is when no effort is extended to even try to remain current or get up to speed having vital skills in place. I’m not talking about upper management knowing advanced Excel skills, but people with jobs similar to mine struggling with beginner skills like were taught in my sister’s high school class.

    I take pride in my work and am valued for it. Many people above expressed how sharing knowledge benefits the company and how not sharing knowledge is bratty or not being a team player. What about the other side—when coworkers prioritize other tasks instead of learning and expect to have everything provided or served with no effort? While being passionate about work is not a requirement, how about extending oneself to learn something new, think about ways to improve, or even just be prepared? It is disrespectful to use others as a crutch and take little/no responsibility to thrive. In the amount of time it takes to complain about something or do it poorly, chances are a Google search and a quick read could have at least improved the outcome slightly.

  72. thepinkleprechaun

    I’m just wondering…maybe asking you to train the others is actually a test to see if you have what it takes to be a manager? Every great manager I’ve had has had the same core qualities, and they would be able to mentor others, look out for their careers, as well as train and coach their employees. Maybe you do work with a bunch of lazy bums, as you seemed to imply in your email. But maybe you just think too highly of yourself and you need to start working on some good leadership skills instead. How are you going to pivot from “I’m so special and I know everything and only care about my own career” one day, and be promoted to manager and immediately care about others’ careers and be able to guide them and even motivate them/lead the team forward?

    I’m saying this as a data scientist, I’m actually a junior analyst on my team but have the opportunity to train others, including sometimes my boss, because of the languages I know and am expert in that the team has only recently started using. I’ve also seen managers come and go because having technical expertise does not necessarily (or USUALLY!) lend itself to being a good manager. I’ve seen very few people who are truly experts at their work and great managers as well. Usually it’s someone who is good at their job who ends up getting promoted to a point where they’re not even doing what they were good at (which got them promoted) and then everyone ends up miserable.

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