Manager in a Knowledge Organization
Now what’s interesting about all this is that more and more of our workers are, to use Peter Drucker’s twenty-five-year-old phrase, “knowledge workers. ” So HR manager have to know how to organize knowledge workers for performance, how to motivate them, how to reward them, and, above all, how to make them productive inside the knowledge organization. What is the character of a knowledge organization? On the surface several features are evident. The ratio of knowledge workers to production workers increases rapidly. The relationship between the two groups changes.
Whereas in the past the knowledge workers were supported by the production workers, this reverses and the production workers are increasingly dependent on the output of the knowledge workers. Knowledge becomes the leading edge of the competitive effort. How knowledge is applied to products and markets determines the long-term expansion or contraction of the firm’s production work force. Knowledge work can’t be seen. It does not fit into discrete, neatly separable units and it is difficult to measure. Perhaps what most annoys and frustrates traditional managers is that knowledge work is non-linear.
It doesn’t make sense to insist that a man should produce twice as many bright ideas in two hours as he produces in one hour. The manager in a knowledge organization thus faces a life in which productivity is it intangible and resolution is uncertain. It is hard for him to know when his people are working. It is also extremely difficult for him to know when he has accomplished something. Managers will also have to consider how to train themselves and selected knowledge workers in the intricacies of knowledge conversion. Managers often consider knowledge workers to be insensitive and arrogant.
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Knowledge workers often consider managers to be intellectually unsophisticated, defensive, and self-protective. Each obstructs and frustrates the other. What was intended to be an infusion of knowledge degenerates into a series of skirmishes? It is important that the manager be alert to this process. The free-form character of the knowledge organization will place heavy demands on the manager’s behavioural competence. He will constantly have to adapt to the situation of working with many different people on unfamiliar tasks.
Solutions to technical problems may suffer not because of a lack of knowledge, but because managers and knowledge workers may not have adequate behavioural skills. For example, a headquarters staff marketing consultant had been invited by a regional sales manager to review plans and methods in his region. Opportunities for personal growth, for variety, for new challenges and a need for accomplishment are continuing concerns for knowledge workers. As if in direct violation of these concerns, knowledge workers are often introduced into an organization by a process of negative assimilation rather than positive stimulation.
The recruit or the transferee is given a picture of great opportunities, but when he starts to work he gets miniscule, repetitive activities. If a manager were to attempt deliberately to demotivate a knowledge worker, it is doubtful that he could design a better method. The knowledge worker needs continued new education. He may have to go back to some form of schooling every two years. He needs assignments that stretch his capabilities. He may complain about overwork, but deep down he would not want it any other way. Conclusion
To conclude we should say that firms became multi-product as well as multi-function, and some firms became just as well entrenched in international as in domestic markets. Data processing, computers, and model building replaced machine tools and blast furnaces as the center of attention in the task of raising productivity. New methods brought to increasing of amount of office workers. The multiplication of office workers is the first stage in the story of what economic change has done to the human resources employed in business.
Today, a new generation of corporate management faces the challenge of making a difficult adjustment once again — in an era of pervasive and accelerating change and complexity that is unsurpassed in the history of man. As the American business community has repeatedly demonstrated over the years, the challenge of change can only be met by developing new attitudes, by training for new skills, and by instilling new learning — in a word, by education. Industry’s need for more skilled workers and better-educated managers stems from a variety of causes.
Chief among these are scientific and technological advances which add to the complexity of industrial operations and create new demands for highly trained employees, the rate of change at all levels of operation which places a premium on lifelong ability to learn as a virtue in and for itself, and the worldwide scope of business operations today. The American labor force is increasingly better educated, and this implies both a higher level of aspiration and a need for management to tap the creative capacities of labor, to organize talent, and to motivate it effectively.
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