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Through The Keyhole #40 – Knowledge workers are the key to success!

18 November 2016 | Josie Hopper | About a 4 minute read
Tags: Academy, Knowledge workers, Through the Keyhole


Have you heard the term ‘Knowledge Worker’ before? In case you haven’t, Peter Drucker who originally coined the term, has defined a knowledge worker as someone who “knows more about his or her job than anyone else in the organisation and is heavily reliant on knowledge to be successful”.

It’s likely that in your organisation, knowledge workers now make up the majority of your workforce; they certainly do at AND Digital. In today’s service-dominated economy, new ideas and knowledge are the main – and perhaps only – source of competitive advantage left available and we’ve been on a mission to adapt our working practices and processes to suit the growing importance of these roles.

Here are 6 lessons that we’ve learnt at AND Digital that have helped our knowledge workers flourish:

1.Knowing our position

Specifically, we needed to understand our roles that are heavily reliant on knowledge which at AND Digital means pretty much everyone! Certain industries, in particular high-tech ones, always require advanced and current knowledge, and at AND Digital we rely on our Product Analysts and Developers to have this Tech and Digital knowledge to help our clients be successful. It’s important that your organisation is clear in its own thinking and identifies its own breed of knowledge workers and prioritises what knowledge is most important.

2.Supporting our managers

Our Squad Leads and leaders need to be equipped to cope with situations where they may know less than their teams when it comes to new Tech or Digital trends, yet they still have to act as a coach and facilitator. Our new leadership programme includes thinking on the topic and involves action learning groups (read our blog on this hereto discuss some of the challenges. Knowledge workers want to be kept well informed and feel involved in decision-making.

3.Creating knowledge communities

Our Product Analysts and Developers want to talk about what they are doing as well as learn from others. We find a topic that they want to learn about, find a passionate expert and then empower them with a lead role to develop a community. It’s important to understand what the purpose of the community is and how they are going to share with the rest of the business, but once done, we’ve found it’s about sitting back and letting them get on with it. We’ve even found that these communities then build their own training courses, then go ahead and deliver it too! The best thing? They’re free!

4.Preventing knowledge hoarding

Ideas-sharing is a high priority for us and the value of what’s being exchanged is openly recognised. Knowledge workers are allowed to choose to share knowledge, and at AND Digital we’ve found that they are more likely to do so they feel committed to the organisation, believe its leaders are worth supporting, feel encouraged to participate and learn, and value their colleagues. We host an external ANDchat meetup where we hear from experts with a point of view on a topic and open it up for further discussion and questions to highlight the importance we place on ideas-sharing. Click here to view our page and join the next event.

5.Tailoring our progression

Career progression is vital to knowledge workers, so at AND Digital we have ensured that we are providing knowledge workers with individual career plans so they know exactly where they can go and what they need to do to get there. We call this development plan the ANDplan, and it’s reviewed at various points throughout the year to support development areas and encourage progression.  

6.Motivating knowledge sharing

The old paradigm was “knowledge is power”. Today it needs to be explicitly understood that “sharing knowledge is power”. At AND Digital each month we identify the ‘Upskilling King or Queen’ that represents the person who has learnt, shared and supported knowledge across our business the most. We’ve also ensured we have multiple internal tools and tech to support effective knowledge sharing – Slack, ANDgenie, Sharepoint and Google Drive for example. If people understand that sharing their knowledge helps them do their jobs more effectively; helps them in their personal development and career progression and brings more personal recognition, then knowledge sharing will become a reality.

 

We think organisations are still struggling to catch up with the reality Drucker foresaw but at AND Digital we think we’ve made a good start! It could be argued that the whole employee proposition needs to shift to take account of the rise of the knowledge worker and as a result, we’re super keen to hear any ideas you may have on the topic!

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