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I've recently been successful in an internal training programme in my workplace, where if after three years I can pass some exams and get signed off, I will be promoted three grades above my current grade.

I've been placed on a team that has decades of experience doing the job and due to the specialist nature, a lot of their knowledge is not documented per se but has built up over those years.

The basics are documented and my exams are based on the basics which I have grasped but I'm finding it difficult to move to the next level. While my colleagues are pleasant, there is some resentment that I will be a couple of grades above them when I finish and may well manage them, so they are not always eager to help.

Are there any ways of dealing with situations like these? How do I learn from people who are not overly willing to share their knowledge?

Additionally, are there any clever methods of recording what I do learn so I can really embed that knowledge, instead of hoping situations repeat themselves and I learn that way?

  • Maybe one reason they were passed over is because they have been hoarding information. – kevin cline Jun 5 '12 at 21:38
  • Have you tried going to lunch with them ? May be a good way to break the ice, reduce the tension and see you as more friendly, which will increase the chance of their cooperation ;) – Radu Murzea Apr 29 '15 at 19:58
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    How are the tasks done? This is impossible to answer without more info about what the tasks are, how much you will be doing them vs watching someone, are they done on a PC, are they done on a server, not sure anyone could answer your question without more info. – blankip Apr 29 '15 at 20:56
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A great way to get internal undocumented knowledge is to talk to the people who apply it every day. It sounds like this is difficult in your situation because of resentment so you will need to overcome that. Show respect, admiration, and appreciation for the people you want to learn from. Ask smart questions.

Also, think about why you were put in the internal training program and they were not. Try to understand their point of view on this and identify how you can help them both now and in the future. Do you have better management skills or a better resume, or have you done phenomenally well at some project in the past? Demonstrate those in your interactions with these people and help them to understand why your promotion will have a positive impact on them too. (Or if it won't and/or you can't think of any reason beyond you were given an opportunity that they were not then consider that perhaps they deserve this chance too and discuss this with the program leadership.)

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    +1 I agree with this, and in addition to being proactive and talking to people, don't forget to actvely listen. Keep your eyes and ears open to everything. Perhaps even ask managers to allow you to join meetings as an observer, if you would not have otherwise been invited, since you want to learn more. – jcmeloni Jun 2 '12 at 16:45
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    I don't see how being nice to people will help. Also going to the point where you are explaining to them why your promotion is positive would probably have really bad impact. There is a chance that they could probably do the job much better. This person just needs to learn, not ass kiss. – blankip Apr 29 '15 at 20:59
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Are there any ways of dealing with situations like these?

There's always trial and error - anything you can do that is low-risk to trying a solution, finding whether it failed or passed, and trying again - it's slow, but sooner or later it'll yield results.

Another trick is to find allies that are not your direct competition - talk to teams/people that support/collaborate with your team. They are interested in EVERYONE on your team being strong - and may have enough technical knowledge to help you with some kinds of problems.

How do I learn from people who are not overly willing to share their knowledge?

Make it hard for them NOT to help you. Make sure that when you ask questions you are clear, succinct and available. Be politely persistent - don't be easy to ignore. Be willing to escalate after a reasonable time has passed and no help was given. Be cognizant of the time you spend asking for help vs. trying new things on your own.

Additionally, are there any clever methods of recording what I do learn so I can really embed that knowledge, instead of hoping situations repeat themselves and I learn that way?

I've used the following: - diagrams/sketches that grow as I learn more - working notes - often messy, but I learn by writing things down. - blogs, or online notes - possibly private to I don't share my crazy thoughts.

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