Leading Knowledge Activist: Do you want to know a secret? – CEOworld Magazine

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The Beatles sang

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do you want to know A Secret?

Do you promise not to tell?

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Wow, oh, oh”

I’ll tell you a secret, and I hope you spread it.

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a knowledge worker as “an employee whose job involves the development and use of knowledge rather than the production of goods or services.” In his 2001 paper, The Next Workforce: Knowledge Workers the New Capitalists, Peter Drucker writes, “The terms ‘knowledge industries’, ‘knowledge work’ and ‘knowledge worker’ are only 40 years old. They were around 1960, but together. were independently coined; the first by a Princeton economist, Fritz Machlup, the second and third by this author.

In 2019, the number of knowledge workers worldwide exceeded one billion. According to statistics, the percentage of knowledge workers in the US is high—60%. As the digital age progresses, we are going to see a greater spread of knowledge work. Knowledge workers need to carefully consider how they are rewarded.

What do the stories of creators teach us?

The story of Picasso demanding a large sum of money for his drawings on napkins made at the request of a fan is legendary.

In examining that story and its many variations, The Quote Investigator, Garson O’Toole, explains:

“Interestingly, the famous painter James McNeill Whistler made a strikingly similar remark during a court testimony in 1878. Whistler was asked by a lawyer about the steep price set for an artwork made in two days. was:

‘Hey, two days! So two days’ labor is what you ask for two hundred guineas!’

‘No;—I ask this for the wisdom of a lifetime.'”

Of course, not all knowledge workers are Picasso or Whistler. The conclusion here is that knowledge workers use their thinking, and the expertise and skills accumulated over time, to create valuable outputs. This is not the time they spend on a particular problem or task.

In his paper, Drucker identified two primary needs of the knowledge worker—formal education that gives them entry into the world of work and continuing education to retain new knowledge in their fields.

I’ll add a third, the secret to leading them:

“Knowledge workers are the creators. Pay for the result, not the process.”

Most knowledge work involves not only time spent physically in the office, but also years of thinking, rethinking, using mental models, and applying prior knowledge and skills. In my 30+ years as a software leader, I worked with many knowledge workers, many of them programmers. We measured them by the elegant pieces of code they built that required unobtrusive performance and maintainable elegance, delivered on schedule, not by the number of hours spent in the office.

Tips for managing knowledge workers

Here are some practical tips for using the secret.

Give knowledge workers the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere, at a time convenient for them.

a) Give individual team leaders the ability to manage their teams based on this principle. Empower these team leaders and their teams to do their job. Let them decide how often they want to be physically together and during what hours they will all be present to collaborate together.

b) Such empowerment requires the organization to articulate well-defined goals, missions and strategies and a set of well-expressed and widely shared principles (or principles) embedded in the organizational culture. The job of a team leader is to bridge the gap between them. Business conditions change daily, sometimes dramatically, as we saw when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. There is no blueprint for how to do your job in unstable conditions. We need to be flexible and adaptable. We can certainly use a framework that can help. This framework includes a code of conduct that says it is our culture, and we operate within these parameters. Empowerment gives everyone the autonomy to do what needs to be done, and the framework helps you stay true to the company’s values.

Set clear metrics to measure the output.
a) The output of knowledge workers should be measured not only by the number of hours they work but also by the results. Still, many leaders mistakenly insist on workers coming into office and staying there from nine to five because it’s easy to measure the time spent, while it takes wisdom to evaluate what’s given.

b) The outcome of a knowledge task, such as a software program or a piece of writing, has many quality characteristics and requires a new set of metrics. For example, Google measures programmer productivity with metrics created with the help of a team of researchers. These researchers come from diverse backgrounds—software engineers, cognitive psychologists and behavioral economists. He designed a framework for developing metrics called Target/Signal/Matrix (GSM). A goal is the desired output, and an indication of how you know the output has been achieved. A metric is a proxy for a signal that is measurable.

c) Be transparent about the metrics and tally the rewards (salaries) with the results.

Hold the team accountable.
a) If you want to hold your employees accountable, you need to be accountable by meeting your commitments, supporting employees, and being accessible and available.

b) Communicate expectations accurately and clearly. In communicating expectations, be sure to negotiate, understand the abilities of individual team members and train them to meet expectations.

c) Support the team with the necessary resources. remove obstacles.

d) Provide continuous feedback on performance.

e) Provide a psychologically safe environment for team interactions and questions.

Conclusion: Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham says in his blog post, Knuth: Computer Programming as an Art.

“A programmer who subconsciously sees himself as an artist will enjoy what he does and get better at it.”

Organizations will be highly successful if all knowledge workers feel that they are the creators, and to get the most out of them, follow the given suggestions.

Shanta Mohan Ph.D. written by
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