Sunday, September 8, 2013

Make Your Knowledge Workers More Productive

Julian Birkinshaw and Jordan Cohen - HBR Blog 

With scarcely any help from management, knowledge workers can increase their productivity by 20%.  If that's what your team can achieve without you, just imagine what they might do with your support.

Yet here is the challenge you face as a senior executive: You cannot manage your knowledge workers in the traditional and intrusive way you might have done with manual workers. Knowledge workers own the means of production — their brains. So large-scale re-engineering programs, productivity drives, and changes to the incentive system are unlikely to work: they can easily be resisted, ignored or gamed. But just letting your knowledge workers figure things out for themselves isn't a good model either — it is an abrogation of your responsibilities as a manager, and it allows people to either shirk their duties or lose focus chasing too many priorities.  You need to find the middle ground: judicious interventions that allow knowledge workers to help themselves. Our research and work with companies suggest three broad approaches you can try, each with its own pros and cons:

·        Enact a sharp "decree" to force a specific change in behavior.

·        Build smart support systems.

·        Lead by example.  ß J