Knowing How to Manage Knowledge Workers

Your organization’s human capital will determine the performance capacity of your business. Today, capital for an organization is no longer held in money or numbers of trucks running; it’s held within intellectual capital. A recent article, from author Ronald J. Baker, notes that the World Bank study, “Where Is the Wealth of Nations?” found that 75 percent of the world’s wealth resides in human capital.

In terms of knowledge work and knowledge workers, how to measure their efficiency?  And are we actually trying to measure effectiveness? Whoa, whoa! What’s the difference?!

We don’t know how to measure a knowledge worker’s efficiency for a fundamental reason. A business doesn’t exist to be efficient – it exists to create wealth for its customers. There is nothing more useless than doing efficiently that which shouldn’t be done at all.

Efficiency is meaningless without consideration for workers’ purpose, desires, and preferences. Why is this relevant to talent managers? Because we must able to manage it. We need to be sure that we are promoting and increasing the effectiveness of our knowledge workers. This is a difficult profession to manage because traditional metrics are irrelevant. You cannot measure the worth or price of knowledge, and it cannot be rushed. To judge it is an option, but that requires knowledge. What a contradiction!

Peter Drucker suggests asking your knowledge workers a few questions to pinpoint requirements for each individual. A few questions to ask include:

  • What is your task?
  • What should it be?
  • What should you be expected to contribute?
  • How fair are those expectations?

To read the full list of questions suggested, click here. Since metrics cannot be utilized in this capacity, talent managers must grasp the tactic of using judgement and discernment. Talent leaders who understand knowledge workers have to contribute their judgments based upon the employee’s strengths.  To read more on how to supplement your organization’s knowledge workers, click here for the full article.

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