Knowledge Work, Transparency and Trust?

January 16, 2020

Niki Saukolin

The nature of work is evolving. Back in the 1950’s, when Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker”, most people were still working in production oriented jobs and creative, mentally challenging, work was not in the cards for the vast majority. Many companies still behave as though things aren’t very different today, seemingly ignoring the change that is taking place right in their own facilities.

While a job may not be defined as “knowledge work” by the company, the person doing the job will likely have skills required from a “knowledge worker” and define herself as a one regardless of how her employer chooses to see her work. The very idea that employees consider themselves “knowledge workers” has changed the way that managers need to approach the act of managing them, and in turn the way that companies need to view their most valuable resource.

I for one must admit that whether I was working as a farmhand on a field of barley, a waiter at an Indian restaurant, or as a business development manager at Promineo, I’ve always considered myself a “knowledge worker”. Probably in part because I have always wanted to find ways to do my work more effectively and smartly, I have thought that each job I’ve done has required for me to apply thought as opposed to mere execution of orders. But in order for me to have the opportunity to influence the way I do my job and to improve both my own enjoyment and the results, I’ve always needed three things – trust, transparency, and the ability to influence. I’m assuming that most people who consider themselves “knowledge workers” share this sentiment, and would like to work in a trusting environment where they have access to information and where they can give input in order to improve the way work is carried out.

As I’m writing this blog I realize that there are a number of topics here that will require their wholly own conversations, so I’ll focus on the one that I feel is the most important. The core of it all. Trust.

I recently watched a TED Talk by Simon Sinek (and certainly wasn’t the first person to do so), a well known author on leadership and management, with the title “Why good leaders make you feel safe?” There is a part in the talk (starting at about 2min 50sec) where Simon talks about trust, co-operation and the circle of safety in a group that leads to amazing results. When I watched the video, and reached the part where he says “circle of safety” I said YES to myself. Yes because this is precisely the environment that I feel we need to create in our work places to enable the modern “knowledge worker” to perform her best.

I would like to leave the reader with a single questions around the topic of trust, a question I feel is very important and one that we are working to provide answers to at Promineo:

How can the process of managing knowledge workers reflect trust in those being managed?
About the author

Niki Saukolin

Niki is the head of business development at Promineo and a software industry veteran with over 20 years of experience working with enterprise customers.

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