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Attracting Knowledge Workers

In attracting and holding knowledge workers, we already know what does not work: bribery.

Attracting and holding knowledge workers have become two of the central tasks of people management. We already know what does not work: bribery. In the past ten or fifteen years many businesses in America have used bonuses or stock options to attract and keep knowledge workers. It always fails when falling profits eliminate the bonus or falling stock prices make the option worthless. Then both the employee and the spouse feel bitter and betrayed. Of course knowledge workers need to be satisfied with their pay, because dissatisfaction with income and benefits is a powerful disincentive. The incentives, however, are different.

Knowledge workers know they can leave. They have both mobility and self-confidence. This means they have to be treated and managed as volunteers, in the same way as volunteers who work for not-for-profit organizations. The first thing such people want to know is what the company is trying to do and where it is going. Next, they are interested in personal achievement and personal responsibility—which means they have to be put in the right job. Knowledge workers expect continuous learning and continuous training. Above all, they want respect, not so much for themselves, but for their area of knowledge. Knowledge workers expect to make the decisions in their own area.

ACTION POINT: Manage professionals as volunteers by defining for them what the company is trying to do and where it is going. Put them in the right job and offer them educational benefits. Respect them and their areas of expertise. Allow them to make decisions in their own areas.

Managing in the Next Society

* Source: The Daily Drucker by Peter F. Drucker

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