Managing today's highly skilled professionals takes special skills — and not the ones that you may think. Oftentimes, knowledge workers know more than you do about their jobs. So, how do you manage people who know more about what they do than you do?
In such instances, you have to look at leadership through the wants and needs of the worker as opposed to the skills of the leader. Here are some quick tips for effectively managing knowledge workers.
In days past, working 40 hours per week and taking 4-5 weeks of vacation meant that people often focused less on loving what they do. Today people work 60-80 hours a week and it's crucial that they love their work to avoid burnout. Those who lead by example and demonstrate passion for what they do make it much easier for their followers to do the same.
With less job security and more global competition, it's critical that people update and refine their skills continuously. Leaders need to look beyond skills needed today and help their workers learn skills they will need tomorrow.
People have less time today, which means the value of that time has increased. Leaders who waste their workers' time are not looked upon favorably. Leaders will be far more successful if they protect people from things that neither encourage their passions nor enhance their abilities.
Today, job security comes from having ability, passion, and a great network. Leaders who enable people to form strong networks both inside and outside the company will gain a huge competitive advantage along with the loyalty of their workers. These professional networks allow people to expand their knowledge and bring it back to the organization.
The best knowledge workers are working for more than money. They want to make a contribution and to grow in their fields. Leaders who ask their people, "What can our company do to help you grow and achieve your goals?" will find it comes back tenfold.
Expand happiness and meaning
No one wants to work at a meaningless job that makes them unhappy. Leaders must show their workers how the organization can help them make a contribution to the larger world and feel rewarded for doing something about which they are passionate.
Managing knowledge workers is a challenging and rewarding job. Leaders who do so must look beyond the work and think about the person who does the work if they are to be successful. By appreciating and encouraging the dedication, time, and experience of their workers, leaders help shape not only the futures of the professionals they lead but also the future of their organizations.
Life is good.
My newest book, MOJO, is a New York Times (advice), Wall Street Journal (business), USAToday (money) and Publisher's Weekly (non-fiction) best seller. It is now available online and at major bookstores.