We are still in the knowledge age: are we meeting the needs of knowledge workers?


I first got involved in the discipline of Knowledge Management about 15 years ago, so it’s very refreshing to revisit the basics and check on what I might have missed or forgotten along the way.  This is why I’m reading Melissie Clemmons Rumizen’s “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knowledge Management.”  It’s a very good book.

At one point Melissie references a presentation she attended by Peter Drucker about how to make knowledge workers more effective – this was back in 1998 – but seems very relevant today in the context of how to help people continue to feel motivated during the continued cut-backs that are going on.  In fact, Drucker’s points, like Covey’s (see my earlier blogs) remind us that we are very much in the knowledge age rather than the industrial age, and should be treating people / behaving accordingly, irrespective of any cut-backs!

Here then are Drucker’s points about how to make knowledge workers more effective:

  • Make demands of them and help them to establish goals (this is where we can help people to adopt a self-employed attitude, but within the context of the overall organisation’s goals)
  • Make them accountable for achieving these goals in their own way (empowerment again?!)
  • Ensure they have the education and training for their current jobs, and future development (I particularly like the ‘future’ consideration)
  • Place them where they can be productive (i.e. if they are a square peg in a round hole, you may need to move them to a square hole)
  • Ensure meaningful (i.e. in their context) reward and recognition

These seem like good reminders for managers, but also for individual knowledge workers.  If the latter are not happy with their current work environment, it may help them to understand what’s missing and perhaps take some action to address the gaps?

For me, with one of my upcoming courses being around Promoting Information Literacy to End Users – it is a timely reminder of what the needs of those End Users (i.e. Knowledge Workers) may be.

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