Transcript of Video Posted at Bruce Tulgan's Blog
August 13, 2012
"Turn Every Young Worker into a Knowledge Worker"
Especially when they are new on the job, Gen Yers are eager to identify problems that nobody else has identified and solve problems that nobody else has solved. They want to improve whatís already there and they want to invent new things.
That eagerness to add value can be very good for business but it can also be a frustrating distraction for managers.
Not everybody can be an 'ideas guy.'
Managers often divide their employees -- either explicitly or implicitly -- into two categories: those who are knowledge workers, or 'idea guys,' and those who are not. Employees with higher levels of education and responsibility for higher-level tasks are often accorded the status of knowledge workers, while those with lower levels of education and responsibility for lower-level tasks are not. I think this is a big mistake and, unfortunately, a very common one. Sometimes I spend hours trying to get leaders and managers to see that everybody today in a successful organization must be a knowledge worker.
Knowledge work is not about what you do but how you do whatever it is you do. If you work hard to leverage information, technique, and ideas in your job, then you are a knowledge worker -- at least in my world. If you donít leverage skill and knowledge in your work to do a better job, you are going to be useless. Thatís true whether you are digging a ditch or designing the foundation of the building that is going to be built in that ditch.
Most Gen Yers understand this on a gut level and wonít have it any other way. The real challenge is to keep them focused on all that work you hired them to do while simultaneously encouraging them to leverage knowledge and skill in that work. The more you encourage Gen Yers to think about their work -- whatever that work might be -- the more engaged they will be. The more you encourage them to learn while they work, the better they will do their jobs. Whether itís high-tech learning or low tech, help them channel their learning directly into their work instead of shooting down their ideas and dampening their enthusiasm. If you hire someone to unload boxes from a truck and that person wants to be an ideas guy, you need to get that individual to focus his thinking and learning on how to better unload boxes from the truck. If you hire someone to dig a ditch, get that individual to focus on how to dig that ditch better. Anyone can be a knowledge worker.