Posts Tagged ‘motivating knowledge workers’

T5-5 Expertise Directory with a Twist: “Getting Surprised with Each Other’s Talents”

February 17, 2010

In 2006, I designed and facilitated a KM planning workshop for a new cross-functional KM Team. Among my objectives were (1) to motivate individual team members and (2) to show them in a concrete way the advantages of an expertise directory. I introduced a module that generated so much energy and enthusiasm among the team members that I repeated this module in other KM workshops for other organizations.

This is how the process flows:

  1. Individual seatwork: Each team member is provided a 3′ x 4′ kraft paper (or Manila paper) and a black felt pen. The instruction is: “List down all your talents, both technical and non-technical.” A few members asked guidelines on how to identify their talents. My answers were: “In what tasks/skills do your colleagues often ask you for assistance?” “Recall 1-2 very successful task/projects you did; what talents did you use?”
  2. Public posting: After a team member is done, she/he posts her/his work on the wall.
  3. Comment/feedback on each other: After all team members’ work had been posted around the walls, each team member is given a red (or any colored) felt pen, goes around and reads everybody else’s work. Anyone can write comments on anyone else’s work, e.g. “you forgot to add skill XX.” “I didn’t know you are good at YY!” “Prove it!” “You are too shy to mention skill ZZ!” “You should have joined Project @@!” Approval of a skill can be conveyed simply by a red asterisk.
  4. Answer comments: A team member, if she/he wishes, can write her/his reaction to a comment using a blue (or another color) felt pen.
  5. Plenary discussion: The team sits down and the facilitator leads a group discussion on insights and learning from the content (output) and process, and how they each felt about the process. As facilitator, I conclude by proposing “Let us collect your outputs and use this as inputs to your internal KM Team Expertise Directory.”

My own insights and learning from this module are:

  • Team members often express surprise at knowing (and at previously not being aware of) many of each other’s talents. For example, they were very surprised that a medical doctor colleague had learned the skill of laying out bathroom tiles! KM is about harnessing talent, and it starts with recognizing it.
  • The module was able to reveal to them the value of an expertise directory, especially one that includes both technical and non technical skills. For example, a non-technical skill (or a skill that does not appear in the ordinary CV or resume) that is useful for the organization is the ability to act as emcee (from “MC” or master of ceremonies) in a ceremony, conference or public event.
  • The commenting process creates a space where KM Team members mutually acknowledge and affirm each other and their skills (this works well when the KM Team members know each other beforehand). It is a process that generates much interactive energy, team building and motivation.
  • The process supports openness about one’s abilities and gaps, at the same time that it reveals individual styles and preferences such as hesitance to publicly announce one’s talents, and personal boundaries in self-disclosure. Such hesitance is acknowledged and respected by the group instead of challenged.
  • All outputs taken together can reveal new systemic insights. In one organization, the CEO herself read the postings and then remarked “We have enough talent to put together a chorale and music band.”

What do YOU think? Tell us.

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T5-3 Motivating Knowledge Workers Need Not be an Expensive Proposition

November 20, 2009

Motivating knowledge workers in KM projects does not have to cost much money. A survey of 22 Asian organizations performing good KM practices (conducted by Asian Productivity Organization) reveal an interesting pattern: they employ various (low-cost) ways to motivate knowledge workers:

  • Rewards and recognition schemes are often used. Airtel in India instituted the Knowledge Dollar (K$) as the unit of performance credit and the Joint President’s and CEO’s Knowledge Management Award. A Learning Award for knowledge transfer and an Enterprise Award for intrapreneurship were established by Unilever Indonesia. Wika in Indonesia instituted ten different awards. The Learning Award resulted in “new enthusiasm for learning, confidence in trainers to conduct sessions, new standards of module development… and preservation of knowledge not captured before.”
  • Infosys uses measurable returns from KM initiatives to demonstrate the benefits and rationale for engaging in KM. Initial positive feedbacks on outputs/benefits of KM were encouraging and provided motivation for the continuing development of KM at Goldsun in Vietnam.
  • At the Department of Health in the Philippines, members of the KM Team through a workshop surfaced their personal talents, passions and life goals and each member clarified how he or she can optimize the conscious convergence between personal and organizational goals.
  • Management of Qian Hu in Singapore designed a mix of informal and formal communication modes to strengthen buy-in from employees and customers. This includes “floor walks”, tea sessions and informal gatherings besides more formal modes such as seminars and focus group discussions.
  • At SCG Paper in Thailand, a balance of virtual interaction and physical or face-to-face meetings is employed. Physical spaces designed for interactions are provided that can foster openness and trust among employees. Similarly, Bank Negara Malaysia redesigned its library environment to make it more reader friendly, using ergonomics furniture and encouraging a more cheerful mood using paintings and appropriate color scheme for walls and furniture.
  • The importance of senior management commitment or executive sponsorship was mentioned in many case studies. In a survey of more than 200 organizations in Thailand this factor was ranked highest among critical success factors for KM. At Siriraj Hospital in Thailand, the CKO (Chief Knowledge Officer) was selected on the basis of commitment, leadership ability and recognition from other staff. Leadership and policy was ranked second in a study in Malaysia of success factors in KM. JTC Corporation’s managers created “a motivational organizational culture characterized by a caring leadership behavior which supports active questioning and allows for mistakes… Employees are thus able to trust each other and to share their opinions about work related issues more freely.”
  • Learning is a win-win activity for employees and the company. CAPCO in Taiwan established an on-line learning program for its employees, the Multimedia Cyber College. It has motivated its employees by including on-line training and certification as part of the employee evaluation and promotion processes.
  • The motivational value of learning through face-to-face interaction in a team or CoP is mentioned in many case studies. Unilever Indonesia, SCG Paper and Siriraj Hospital in Thailand, and SAIT in Korea are examples of organizations that set up and nurture many CoPs. To sustain employee interest in KM activities, Bank Negara Malaysia initiated cross-functional teams, benchmarking projects and study visits or attachments.
  • At SCG Paper, the honor of being a mentor or coach is seen as a motivating element in tacit knowledge transfer processes such as the buddy system, job rotation and cross-functional group activities. Designating functional heads as the knowledge champions and setting up a community of experts were instrumental in gaining buy-in for KM at Airtel. Wika and Bank Indonesia created the role of “begawan” (sage) for mature and experienced mentors.
  • “Praise Ground,” which is an avenue for peer-to-peer public compliments for exemplary KM behavior, is an innovative process at Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology. According to the case study author,
    “A member identifies another employee who has done something worthy to be praised and writes a short, but entertaining note about it on the website. That member, then, identifies still another employee to praise and the process is repeated over and over… The Praise Ground is one of the most popular and most frequently visited website at SAIT. Most, if not all, members at SAIT consider it a great personal honor to be mentioned at the Praise Ground.”

If you wish to read more about these 22 KM case studies which I edited, click here and access the 3rd item in “Downloadable KM e-books”.

KM in Asia

KM in Asia (22 case studies)

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T4-3 Using the Performance Evaluation System for KM

November 18, 2009

A simple tool for increasing the likelihood that employees will perform desired KM behaviors is to incorporate those behaviors into the periodic Performance/Personnel Evaluation System. Personally, I prefer that employees (for example through a briefing) are assisted to understand and appreciate KM and what KM can do for them (see previous blog on “T3-1 Showing a concrete benefit of KM to the knowledge worker”). Demonstrating success of a KM pilot project in a selected unit within the organization is even better. However, a combination of many approaches may be the best approach, whichever is suited to the culture and problem of the organization concerned.

An innovative approach used by SEAMEO INNOTECH in lieu of a generic Performance/Personnel Evaluation System is the individualized Personnel Development Plan whereby each employee, in consultation with his/her superior, commits to take specific actions or duties towards gaining or enhancing specific competencies during an evaluation period. Presently, the management of INNOTECH is considering incorporating the practice and learning of specific KM competencies in the Personnel Development Plan.

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T3-1: Showing a Concrete Benefit of KM to the Knowledge Worker

September 28, 2009

A tendency when KM is introduced to an organization for the first time is that knowledge workers tend to look at KM as “extra work.” If this is how they view KM, regular work will win over any extra work, particularly if the periodic personnel evaluation system measures his/her performance only in regular work.

I use this simple slide to convey to individual knowledge workers a benefit KM can give them: they can finish their work faster. Most knowledge workers like this. This slide mentions five typical factors that affect speed of completion of work.

KM benefit for individual K worker

I use the above figure to drive home some points to clarify the meaning of intellectual capital and its three recognized components: human capital, structural capital and stakeholder capital.

  1. I include the third factor “support from boss and teammates” to show that effective action (the goal of KM) is affected not only by knowledge assets or cognitive factors, but also by motivational or affective factors. Therefore, these cannot be ignored in actual KM practice.
  2. The third factor is actually internal relationship capital, in contrast to stakeholder capital which is external relationship capital. I use this example to show that stakeholder capital – the usual third component of intellectual capital – is externally looking and miss out on an important internal factor that also affects productivity and effective action. Why do you think companies spend money on team building workshops?
  3. Notice, too, that the fourth factor “decision rules are clear” is both within the purview of quality management as well as knowledge management. I use this fourth factor to illustrate the fact that KM and QM overlap.
  4. The first, second and fourth factors are examples of structural capital while the last factor is an example of human capital.

You can use the above chart and ideas; if you do, please acknowledge me as its source. Thanks!

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A Success Factor in KM: Motivating Knowledge Workers

April 15, 2009

Further to my previous blog post, I compiled the results of some studies showing that user satisfaction or commitment (internally-driven) and/or motivating/rewarding knowledge workers (externally-driven) contribute to success of KM initiatives:

A. Two of five factors to ensure KM initiatives succeed:

  • High priority given to the initiative at the very top of the hierarchy
  • Establishment of incentives to share knowledge.

(Source: Mathi, Kavindra: “Key Success Factors for Knowledge Management.” MBA thesis, Internationales Hochschulinstitut Lindau, University of Applied Sciences, FH Kempten, Germany, December 2004)

B. Factors identified as critical through multiple regression analysis:

  • Establishment of a reward strategy
  • Willingness to share knowledge
  • Top management support

(Source: Yu-Cheng Lin and Lee-Kuo Lin: “Critical Success Factors for Knowledge Management: Studies in Construction,” Department of Civil Engineering, National Taipei University of Technology, 2006)

C. From Randy Williams: “Critical Success Factors When Building a Knowledge Management System” (Sharepoint Magazine, 4 December 2008) two of seven success factors are:

  • Motivating staff
  • Executive support

D. According to Murray E. Jennex and Iryna Zakharova: “Knowledge Management Critical Success Factors.” Management.Com.Ua, 29 June 2005:

D1. Two of eight design recommendations for a successful KM system:

  • Have senior management support
  • Build motivation and commitment by incorporating KMS usage into personnel evaluation processes; implementing KMS use/satisfaction metrics; and identifying organizational culture concerns that could inhibit KMS usage.

(Source: Jennex, M.E. and Olfman, L. “Development Recommendations for Knowledge Management/Organizational Memory Systems.” Information Systems Development Conference 2000)

D2. Eight factors common in 18 successful KM projects out of 35:

  • Senior management support
  • Linkages to economic performance
  • Motivational incentives for KM users

(Source: Davenport, T.H., DeLong, D.W., and Beers, M.C. “Successful Knowledge Management Projects.” Sloan Management Review, 39(2), 43-57, 1998)

D3. Importance of user commitment, motivation, incentives or reward system was among the findings of 7 studies, support from top management in 6 studies, and clear goal or purpose in 4 studies.

wordle-of-motivation1

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