I began my career in networks at a medium sized ISP in the center of town. On my first day at work I was tasked to permit only some specific users internet access in a configured NAT ACL for one of our clients which I gladly did. The CCNA knowledge was still fresh in my mind and it was a good opportunity to unleash it on a production network
Pasted above my seating area were several network diagrams of the wireless infrastructure of the ISP and the respective PoPs. The diagrams confused me a bit. Fortunately, I was assigned to one of the top support guys at the time to be oriented to the operations of the company for the next couple of days. Now that was my salvation!! What should have taken about a week took not more than 3 days. I guess one of main reasons for the speed being that I had a majority of the basic information pretty much under my belt…I was a CCNA who was being tutored by someone who was yet to take their CCNA but had been working in the field for some time.
That experience contributes to my pro-certification stance with the argument that the process delivers to an individual a baseline/advanced body of knowledge in a structured manner within a specific period of time. This is knowledge that would otherwise have been garnered on the job over a relatively longer period of time. Ok back to the story. By the turn of events at the end of the 3rd day I had pretty much been given a huge chunk of the info and tools I needed to be productive. This included topology diagrams with explanations of how the whole infrastructure fit and operated together, IP Addressing sheets, Solarwinds Engineers Toolset *applause*, important phone contacts and everything necessary to be comfortable on the job. This also included a humongous, ugly 17″ Dell XPS laptop for support that i will refrain from commenting on.
The initiative to take me through orientation was a significant boost to my productivity and helped me a great deal to engage with my colleagues and clients I supported.
Contrast this to a scenario where you are new on the job as a network engineer and have no knowledge of WTH is going on in the shop. You are lost on processes and procedure, have no idea of architecture, unfamiliar with some of the hardware you work with (and no one is going to teach you), and do not know how to access the tools and information you need for your day to day activity. No 1-week orientation, no one to show you how to work the ropes…you are virtually almost on your own.
Now that can cause your productivity to take a significant hit especially when you are expected to deliver right from your 1st day at work. Your employers have the mindset that you are THE guy on the job and keep coming to you and throwing stuff at you expecting you to hit the ball into the stands to the glee of the arena filled with excited and expectant spectators. Not a nice situation.
Networking is team work, and I’ve come to believe that the closer the team is to each other in terms of knowledge of their domain, the easier it is on each of them in terms of division of labour. It’s cool to be able to call up a colleague at crunch time when you need a bail out and they know exactly what to do, who to talk to and where to get the information needed to perform a task. It’s easier to step away from your desk knowing that you are not going to be inundated with crisis calls because your mate on the ground is lost for solutions. You can enjoy your vacation time knowing that your back is covered and our team is well and able to face any challenge that may come up because…YOU SHARED THE KNOWLEDGE.
It’s tough dealing with managers, supervisors or colleagues who huddle behind their screens and no one else has any clue as to what they are working on or doing. They don’t open up to share, and they are not open to enquiry either. They are content and happy to be the only go-to person whenever a task needs to be done or an issue requires troubleshooting and resolution because no one else has any idea.
A leadership trainer once shared his ethos on career development in a session I was part of which challenged my paradigm. He said that he was always careful to pass on knowledge and empower his subordinates to the point where they could completely step in his shoes. In doing so, it freed him to look for bigger opportunities up the ladder knowing that his absence would not create a vacuum, but rather create an opportunity for others to shine and make progress.
So what is your paradigm? Are you the “Scrooge”, keeping your gems closely to your chest in an airtight grip or are you going to spread the knowledge to empower others and in so doing create avenues for your personal advancement? The latter always pays off in the long run and makes a significant difference in your career!!