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Motivating Knowledge Worker to Perform Essay Sample

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Motivating Knowledge Worker to Perform Essay Sample

Competitive advantage for any organization relies on the output of knowledge workers. The more motivated the knowledge worker the more likely they are to perform. This paper explores the links between motivation and performance and creates a better understanding of which motivational factors would fall within the ambit of psychological contract and to clarify if knowledge workers performed in response to motivation in the same way. Key Words: Knowledge workers, Motivation, Motivation theories, Motivating factors, Performance. Authors:

Ms. C. Nagadeepa
Sr. Lecturer, Department of Management Studies(UG), Gardencity College, Bangalore


Knowledge is the awareness and understanding of facts, truths or information gained in the form of experience or learning or through introspection. Two forms of knowledge are there : tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge.

Tacit knowledge can be held in a person’s mind and explicit knowledge can be held in written documents and procedures.

Knowledge Work

There are three key features, which differentiate knowledge-work from other forms of conventional work . Firstly, while all jobs entail a mix of physical, social and mental work, the basic task in knowledge-work is thinking – it is mental work, which adds value to work.

Knowledge Worker

In simple words, A knowledge worker is anyone who works for a living at the tasks of developing or using knowledge workers are obviously non-manual workers and are usually employed by firms to carry out innovative activities. Knowledge Worker is a member of the organization who uses knowledge to be a more productive worker. These workers use all varieties of knowledge in the performance of their regular business activities..

Knowledge workers, alternatively termed knowledge entrepreneurs, free agents, or human capital, constitute the fastest growing sector of the workforce in the world. Peter Drucker, the eminent management writer credited with coining the term knowledge worker, defines these individuals as “high level employees who apply theoretical and analytical knowledge, acquired through formal education, to develop new products or services”. Knowledge workers are those who acquire, manipulate, interpret, and apply information in order to perform multidisciplinary, complex and unpredictable work. They analyze information and apply expertise in a variety of areas to solve problems, generate ideas, or create new products and services. Examples of knowledge workers include professionals, scientists, educators, and information system designers. Knowledge work is characterized by the use of information, by unique work situations, and by creativity and autonomy. Knowledge workers make decisions rather than physical items and work with ideas rather than with objects. Their work focuses on mental rather than muscle power and is characterized by non-repetitive tasks. Knowledge workers use different methods and techniques to solve problems and have the authority to decide what work methods to use in order to complete their varying job tasks.

Knowledge workers can be grouped into various categories, based on the amount of time spent on individual tasks or on the type of information or skills possessed. The fact that knowledge workers can be classified in different ways is indicative of the variety of jobs they hold. Knowledge workers can be categorized according to the amount of time engaged * Routine versus: On one end of the scale, workers perform tasks that are primarily repetitive and routine in nature but occasionally use complex information to make independent decisions, often with regard to customer service issues. * Innovative behaviors: Employees at the spectrum’s opposite end spend most of their time accessing information and making independent decisions with regard to that information.

A second way to categorize those whose work focuses on information and ideas is as follows: * Specialty knowledge workers possess a significant amount of knowledge related to a specific company’s products or services. These individuals can be thought of as housing vital corporate assets in their heads. * Portable knowledge workers possess information of wide and immediate utility. They are familiar with knowledge that is in demand by a variety of organizations. Software programmers, librarians, and persons with business degrees are examples of portable knowledge workers. * Creation of knowledge workers focuses the majority of their efforts on innovative behaviors, such as product design and development. Examples of creation of knowledge workers include scientists and information systems designers.

Knowledge Worker Characteristics

The importance of one or more of these characteristics may vary from one job to the next, all knowledge workers need the following characteristics : a) Possessing factual and theoretical knowledge: Knowledge workers are conversant with specific factual and theoretical information. School teachers possess information regarding specialized subject matter, teaching strategies, and learning theories. The sales representative commands factual knowledge concerning the product he or she sells and theoretical knowledge about how to interest customers in that product.

b) Finding and accessing information: today’s information society depends on knowledge that is continually growing and changing, distribution of information within organizations has become problematic due to the massive amount of information with which employees need to be familiar c) Ability to apply information: Knowledge workers use information to answer questions, solve problems, complete writing assignments, and generate ideas. Use of analogical reasoning and relevance judgment enables employees to address successfully personal and customer service-related issues d) Communication skills: Knowledge work is characterized by close contact with customers, supervisors, subordinates, and team mates.Successful knowledge workers present clearly, in spoken and written word, both factual and theoretical information. These employees listen with understanding and ask for clarification when they do not understand what is being said to them.

e) Motivation: knowledge work requires continual growth, in terms of mastery of information and skill development, on the part of those who do this type of work. Knowledge workers must become and remain interested in finding information, memorizing that information, and applying it to their work. Because new technological developments call on knowledge workers to change continuously the way they accomplish their work, these individuals must maintain a desire to apply their talents toward incorporating new information and new technologies into their work

f) Intellectual capabilities: Knowledge workers are able to learn how to read and write at post secondary levels and to perform abstract reasoning. They also have the intellectual capacity to understand the value of acquiring and maintaining the knowledge and skills needed to accomplish their work. Motivation

Motivation is operationally defined as the inner force that drives individuals to accomplish personal and organizational goals. Many contemporary authors have defined the concept of motivation. Motivation has been defined as: “the psychological process that gives behavior purpose and direction” (Kreitner, 1995); “an internal drive to satisfy an unsatisfied need” (Higgins, 1994) Why do we need motivated employees? (The Role of Motivation) Motivated employees are needed in our rapidly changing workplaces. * Help organizations survive.

* Employees become more productive and effective,
* to understand what motivates employees within the context of the roles they perform. Of all the functions a manager performs, motivating employees is arguably the most complex. This is due, in part, to the fact that what motivates employees changes constantly Example: as employees’ income increases, money becomes less of a motivator (Kovach, 1987). Also, as employees get older, interesting work becomes more of a motivator.

Is a function of ability multiplied by Motivation. Ability can be influenced through education. Howe ever motivation is harder to measure and is influenced through many factors. The Study of motivation has been an ongoing activity for decades. Productivity of the Knowledge Worker is the biggest challenge or most important contribution that management need to make is to increase the productivity of the knowledge worker. Drucker (1999) purposes 6 major factors that determine the knowledge workers productivity: * Need to know the task

* Responsibility for productivity must lie with the knowledge worker themselves * Continuous innovation is to be part of the task.
* Contentious learning and teaching.
* Quality is as important as quantity of output.
* Knowledge worker should be seen as asset rather than cost. Motivation Theories
Understanding what motivates employees and how they get motivated was the focus of many researchers following the publication of the Hawthorne Study results (Terpstra, 1979). Five major approaches that have led to our understanding of motivation are Maslow’s need-hierarchy theory, Herzberg’s two- factor theory, Vroom’s expectancy theory, Adams’ equity theory, and Skinner’s reinforcement theory. According to Maslow, employees have five levels of needs (Maslow, 1943): physiological, safety, social, ego, and self- actualizing. Maslow argued that lower level needs had to be satisfied before the next higher level need would motivate employees. Herzberg’s work categorized motivation into two factors: motivators and hygiene’s (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959). Motivator or intrinsic factors, such as achievement and recognition, produce job satisfaction. Hygiene or extrinsic factors, such as pay and job security, produce job dissatisfaction. Vroom’s theory is based on the belief that employee effort will lead to performance and performance will lead to rewards (Vroom, 1964). Rewards may be either positive or negative.

The more positive the reward the more likely the employee will be highly motivated. Conversely, the more negative the reward the less likely the employee will be motivated. Adams’ theory states that employees strive for equity between themselves and other workers. Equity is achieved when the ratio of employee outcomes over inputs is equal to other employee outcomes over inputs (Adams, 1965). Skinner’s theory simply states those employees’ behaviors that lead to positive outcomes will be repeated and behaviors that lead to negative outcomes will not be repeated (Skinner, 1953). Managers should positively reinforce employee behaviors that lead to positive outcomes. Managers should negatively reinforce employee behavior that leads to negative outcomes. Knowledge Worker Productivity Improvement Processes

The following are some of the processes for improving productivity of Knowledge Workers :
a) E-Learning:
b) ICT- Enabled Education:
c) Empowering the Knowledge Worker with Internet Learning,
d) Information Technology (IT),
e) Information and communications technology (ICT) & Internet,
f) Mobile & Wireless ICT,
g) Integration of IT Related Technologies or Support Groups,
h) Weblogs,
i) Knowledge Management (KM) and
j) Change in Attitude.

The purpose of this study was to describe the importance of certain factors in motivating employees at the Piketon Research and Extension Center and Enterprise Center. Specifically, the study sought to describe the ranked importance of the following ten motivating factors: (a) job security,

(b) sympathetic help with personal problems,
(c) personal loyalty to employees,
(d) interesting work,
(e) good working conditions,
(f) tactful discipline,
(g) good wages,
(h) promotions and growth in the organization,
(i) feeling of being in on things, and
(j) full appreciation of work done.
A secondary purpose of the study was to compare the results of this study with the study results from other populations. Methodology
The research design for this study employed a descriptive survey method. A research technique to gather information using a questionnaire from a sample of people, was the research method of choice. Face to face interviews were conducted on the target sample. The target population of this study included employees at Bangalore, the sample size included all 100 employees of the target population. The study used two populations :

* IT Knowledge workers
Knowledge* Financial services Knowledge workers
Data Analysis
Table 1. Demographic Overview of Knowledge Workers
| Information Technology| Financial Services|
Male| 30| 25|
Female| 20| 25|
Graduates| 35| 28|
Post Graduates| 15| 22|

The above graph represents the sample size taken up for the study . It shows that the sample size included 100 employees. Of the target population 50 IT Knowledge workers of whom males were about 30 and 20 were females, 50 financial service knowledge of whom 25 were males and 25 were female workers were interviewed. Further the respondents are categorized as Graduates and Post graduates. Table 2: Link of Motivation to Performance:

Motivating Factor| Information Technology (50)| Financial Services (50)| (a) job security,| 8| 10|
(b) sympathetic help with personal problems,| 5| 6|
(c) personal loyalty to employees,| 10| 9|
(d) interesting work,| 15| 10|
(e) good working conditions,| 3| 4|
(f) tactful discipline,| 5| 5|
(g) good wages,| 15| 17|
(h) promotions and growth in the organization,| 15| 15|
(i) feeling of being in on things, and| 4| 5|
(j) full appreciation of work done.| 20| 19|

The table shows the link between motivation and performance of the workers. Most of the IT ans financial services respondents are of the opinion that full appreciation of work done, interesting work, good wages and promotions and growth in organization are the important factors which directly link motivation with performance.

Table 3 : Demotivating Factors

| Information Technology| Financial Services|
Workplace violence | 5| 3|
Workplace hazard and Injuries| 1| 0| |
Long working hours | 18| 20|
Effect of night shift | 5| 5|
Shortage problem | 10| 12|
Feeling under Paid| 15| 20|
Unreasonable workload| 15| 15|
Lack of appreciation| 31| 25|

The graph shows that factors which demotivate the employees Most of the respondents (31%) IT feel that Lack of appreciation leads to demotivation and the next factor is the Long working hours (18%). Table 4 : Expected Reward System

Reward System| Information Technology (%)| Financial Services(%)| Monetary| 60| 70|
Non – Monetary| 40| 30|

This shows that most of the respondents expect monetary reward system than non monetary reward system. The expectation varies between the top, middle and low level employees. Table 5 : Effect of Motivation towards Performance

| Yes (%)| No(%)|
Information Technology| 75| 25|
Financial Services| 73| 27|

This shows the effec t of motivation on performance .Most of the respondents of both the sectors are of the opinion that Motivation has a positive impact on performance.

The ranked order of motivating factors were: (a) interesting work, (b) good wages, (c) full appreciation of work done, (d) job security, (e) good working conditions, (f) promotions and growth in the organization, (g) feeling of being in on things, (h) personal loyalty to employees, (i) tactful discipline, and (j) sympathetic help with personal problems. Therefore, according to Maslow , if managers wish to address the most important motivational factor of Centers’ employees, interesting work, physiological, safety, social, and esteem factors must first be satisfied. If managers wished to address the second most important motivational factor of centers’ employees, good pay, increased pay would suffice. Contrary to what Maslow’s theory suggests, the range of motivational factors are mixed in this study. Maslow’s conclusions that lower level motivational factors must be met before ascending to the next level were not confirmed by this study.

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