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Knowledge work productivity Essay

The road to an organization’s success depends on the PEOPLE. In Peter Drucker’s writings, there was always a part on people and how they can CONTRIBUTE. Before the internet and social media congested world of today; Drucker noticed how people behaved with their work duties. Whether it was putting a tire on a car; talking strategy on how to move the business forward or volunteers interacting with each other at a non-profit, Drucker soon realized that successful organizations have the foundation of great people.

People grow organizations together. From the beginning straight to the end; it is the people who decide how far they want to take their organization. Knowledge work defines our society today. With the dominance of social media, the expanding internet, and the powerhouses of technology; the possibilities of knowledge are endless. Educators are beginning to orient themselves towards teaching through technology, whether that is tablets in the school classroom or universities providing entire courses online. Physical labor still exists; however, the high level of knowledge that is needed still persists. Our society today depends on people working with their minds; a reality that Peter Drucker was envisioning over fifty years ago.

The organizations that use knowledge work effectively empower and trust their people to have the freedom to share their ideas. Executives and managers work together to align people’s ideas to the mission; as well as create a sense of belonging to each that works there. Management is always about the people first. A manager needs to create an environment where people are comfortable working together and in tandem, and resist the urge to create individual silos. Everyone wants to do great things for their organization; it is up to management to foster that environment of collaboration and teamwork and align the team to the company’s mission and goals.

People will always be the structure of any organization. When the structure is strong; the support of more is there. When one feels empowered to use their passion and knowledge to be successful; the winning formula begins to develop, and all it takes is to empower that person to be their best.

The author of 39 books during his long career, and counselor to titans of business and rulers of nations, Drucker championed the powers of observation, often formulating simple ideas that triggered startling results. The Practice of Management (1954) and The Effective Executive (1966) are considered his landmark works. Part of Drucker’s genius lay in his ability to find patterns among seemingly unconnected disciplines. “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said,” he once said.

The magazine called Drucker’s teachings “a blueprint for every thinking leader,” noting that Drucker taught generations of managers the importance of picking the best people, of focusing on opportunities and not problems, of getting on the same side of the desk as their customer, of the need to understand their competitive advantages and to continue to refine them (listening-and-learning approach) Drucker called himself a “social ecologist,” a close observer of the way humans are organized across all sectors—in business, but also in government and in the nonprofit world.

“None of my books or ideas means anything to me in the long run,” he said. “What are theories? Nothing. The only thing that matters is how you touch people. Have I given anyone insight? That’s what I want to have done. Insight lasts; theories don’t. And even insight decays into small details, which is how it should be. A few details that have meaning in one’s life are important.”

Drucker’s track record is impressive, as BusinessWeek succinctly summarized upon his death in 2005. Among his accomplishments:

–He introduced the idea of decentralization—in the 1940s—which became a bedrock principle for virtually every large organization in the world.

–He was the first to assert—in the 1950s—that workers should be treated as assets, not as liabilities to be eliminated.

–He originated the view of the corporation as a human community—again, in the 1950s—built on trust and respect for the worker and not just a profit-making machine, a perspective that won Drucker an almost godlike reverence among the Japanese.

–He first made clear—still the ’50s—that there is “no business without a customer,” a simple notion that ushered in a new marketing mindset.

–He argued in the 1960s—long before others—for the importance of substance over style, for institutionalized practices over charismatic, cult leaders.

–He wrote about the contribution of knowledge workers—in the 1970s—long before anyone knew or understood how knowledge would trump raw material as the essential capital of the New Economy.

As he aged, Drucker appeared to assume more gravitas, slowing his speech, projecting a more authoritative presence, allowing his audience to hang on his words. He expressed dismay with the greed and self-interest that pervaded corporate America in his later years, shifting his focus to nonprofits. In writings and speeches during the 1980s, Drucker emerged as one of corporate America’s most important critics, preaching against reckless mergers and acquisitions. He warned that CEO pay had rocketed out of control and implored boards to hold CEO compensation to no more than 20 times what the rank and file made.

In The Definitive Drucker: Challenges for Tomorrow’s Executives—Final Advice from the Father of Modern Management (2007), author Elizabeth Haas Edersheim wrote, “Peter’s ideas were the catalyst that freed people to pursue opportunities they had never expected to have. He liberated people by asking them questions and eliciting a vision that just felt right. He liberated people by getting them to challenge their own assumptions. He liberated people by raising their awareness of, and their faith in, things they knew
intuitively. He liberated people by forcing them to think. He liberated people by talking to them. He liberated people by getting them to ask the right questions.”

The Business of Listening

Why should you care about listening skills? Most of us have developed as business people in organizational cultures that emphasize the persuasiveness of the speaker. We’ve spent countless hours, and a great deal of money, attending to our appearance, business dress, body language, facial expression, selection of language, tone of voice, charts, graphs, and on and on. The importance of those factors is not denied. However, they’re not the only factors influencing communication. And are they powerful enough, when we’re trying to get the best from a diverse group of people, build a customer-focused organization, or influence those who disagree with us?

As Kenneth R. Johnson, said in his book, Effective Listening Skills, “Listening effectively to others can be the most fundamental and powerful communication tool of all. When someone is willing to stop talking or thinking and begin truly listening to others, all of their interactions become easier, and communication problems are all but eliminated.”

Understanding others, results in them understanding you

Consciously cultivating your listening skills helps you understand the many difficulties affecting other people. You become better at being heard and understood.

Use your human resources better

Improving your listening skills helps you more fully use the diverse knowledge, wisdom, energy and enthusiasm of the people you deal with.

Get more out of face-to-face interaction

Maximize the value of your live, non-electronic, conversations. Face-to-face interaction still influences the quality of your business relationships and meetings more than any other factor.

Gain depth and intimacy

You engage more deeply and intimately with your people, your teams and important organizational issues and changes.


Improving your listening skills helps you maintain the energy, equilibrium and enthusiasm of others, as well as your own.

“Managers who get to know their people, respect and trust the competency of their employees, and listen continually for how employees are doing relative to their aspirations, quality of work life, and sense of career advancement, will have a far greater chance of developing and retaining their employees.” Caela Farren, CEO of MasteryWorks


March and Olsen provide a model of organizational learning as a cycle in which individual and organizational action are distinct but interrelated. Individual actions – based on individual beliefs – lead to organizational action that in turn induces an environmental response. If an environmental response subsequently affects individual beliefs, the cycle is supposedly completed and learning has been achieved. However, if the environment remains unchanged, the three other elements of the learning model remain unaffected and therefore only individual but no organizational learning might occur. If in contrast, the environment changes, individual beliefs will change which in turn will lead to some corresponding individual and organizational actions.

This concept of learning as adaptation is further developed by Levitt and March who suggest organizations learn by “encoding inferences from history into routines that guide behavior.” Drawing on a stimulus-response model of responsiveness this adaptive perspective portrays the generation of responses as a function of environmental change. In turn, the perspective of organizations as cognitive systems has extended the foundational argument of the adaptive perspective on learning by identifying cognition as the basis for deliberate organizational action. In this case, Ducan and Weiss remind us that organizational learning refers to an organization’s – i.e. its dominant coalition’s – capacity to identify the need for change and adaptation and take intentional actions.

Action-outcome relationships and their conditions are tested, validated, and subsequently rejected or confirmed. In particular, they emphasize two key aspects of such learning processes, namely the ability to communicate and integrate knowledge and insights. Similarly, Fiol and Lyles state that “learning enables organizations to build an understanding and interpretation of their environment…it results in associations, cognitive systems, and memories that are developed and shared by members of the organization.” Thus organizational members are portrayed as interpreters of reality who become conscious actors in individual and collective learning process.

On a similar note, Draft and Weick provide us with a model that views learning as resulting from conflicting interpretations of reality. In their seminal piece, they propose organizations as interpretation systems whereby interpretation refers to a process through which information is given meaning and subsequent actions are identified. Building on, yet extending the behavioral view, Draft and Weick suggest iterative sequences of scanning, interpretation and learning. For instance, scanning refers to vigilantly monitoring and gathering data from the environment, whereas the interpretation refers to the translation or sensemaking of such data. Finally, learning involves knowledge of the organization in terms of the interrelationship of organizational actions and its environment. The generation of responses in this model is portrayed as a function of the interpretation style of an organization’s dominant coalition.

Effective Communication is significant for managers in the organizations so as to perform the basic functions of management, i.e., Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling. Communication helps managers to perform their jobs and responsibilities. Communication serves as a foundation for planning. All the essential information must be communicated to the managers who in-turn must communicate the plans so as to implement them.

Organizing also requires effective communication with others about their job task. Similarly leaders as managers must communicate effectively with their subordinates so as to achieve the team goals. Controlling is not possible without written and oral communication. Managers devote a great part of their time in communication. They generally devote approximately 6 hours per day in communicating. They spend great time on face to face or telephonic communication with their superiors, subordinates, colleagues, customers or suppliers. Managers also use Written Communication in form of letters, reports or memos wherever oral communication is not feasible. Thus, we can say that “effective communication is a building block of successful organizations”. In other words, communication acts as organizational blood.

The importance of communication in an organization can be summarized as follows:

1. Communication promotes motivation by informing and clarifying the employees about the task to be done, the manner they are performing the task, and how to improve their performance if it is not up to the mark.

2. Communication is a source of information to the organizational members for decision-making process as it helps identifying and assessing alternative course of actions.

3. Communication also plays a crucial role in altering individual’s attitudes, i.e., a well informed individual will have better attitude than a less-informed individual. Organizational magazines, journals, meetings and various other forms of oral and written communication help in moulding employee’s attitudes.

4. Communication also helps in socializing. In todays life the only presence of another individual fosters communication. It is also said that one cannot survive without communication.

5. As discussed earlier, communication also assists in controlling process. It helps controlling organizational member’s behaviour in various ways. There are various levels of hierarchy and certain principles and guidelines that employees must follow in an organization. They must comply with organizational policies, perform their job role efficiently and communicate any work problem and grievance to their superiors. Thus, communication helps in controlling function of management.

An effective and efficient communication system requires managerial proficiency in delivering and receiving messages. A manager must discover various barriers to communication, analyze the reasons for their occurrence and take preventive steps to avoid those barriers. Thus, the primary responsibility of a manager is to develop and maintain an effective communication system in the organization.

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