Knowledge workers are characterised by highly educated and skilled individuals who contributes to innovation and knowledge creation within an organisation. Knowledge workers are responsible for their own contribution to the organisation. Continuous innovation and learning need to be built into the knowledge worker job and they need to have the autonomy of seeking out their own knowledge. Organisation need to be able to value knowledge worker. Organisations need to abandon the old practice of looking at knowledge worker as cost centre. Organisations need to value knowledge workers as an asset that has the potential to drive innovation and build the necessary infrastructure that allows their employee to acquire knowledge easily.
Etienne Wenger defines communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. Organisations need to be able to create an supportive working environment towards creating a sustainable communities of practice. Employees should be encouraged to interact with other employees to share knowledge. Knowledge sharing session should not be seen as activities that eats into the company budgets and does not create value. Knowledge sharing should be set into the employees performance indicator to encourage them to actively participate in professional communities of practice.
A study by Politis (2001) shows that managers need to be able to grow their employees career path to support the organisations mission and vision. Learning and development is an inseparable component to grow knowledge workers core competencies. Employers and employees need to work together to identify the best learning material to support the employees knowledge development. Employers can suggest a list of suitable courses that their employees can participate. Another alternative is to support the employees to with tools to support their day to day problem solving activities. Employees internalizes new knowledge through experiential learning that they perform as they solve problems in their work. Employees can support their employees by providing a range of knowledge management tools such as content management system, collaboration tools, data mining tools to enable employees to search for the appropriate information to expand their knowledge base.
Investing in knowledge workers require a change of mindset to an organisation. They need to invest in knowledge creation activities that may not show immediate result in their balance sheet. Nevertheless organisation need to start planning to measure their knowledge management strategy and start making concrete action to support their knowledge workers.
Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, pp. 72–84.
Politis, J., D., (2001). The relationship of various leadership styles to knowledge management. Leadership & Organization Development Journal