The New Workplace Weekly Digest 02/19/2016

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Every Friday, we prepare for you a short digest with news covering subjects related to employee engagement, collaboration, organizational culture, knowledge sharing, leadership and the future of work.

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Here’s this week’s brief:

The workplace has become more diverse…

…and dispersed. Managers need to adapt by listening, embracing curiosity, and finding way to encourage engagement. Technology companies, in particular, often struggle because they promote people who are great individual contributors into leadership roles. The ability to manage teams composed of people from different backgrounds and different locations has become much more important. Collaboration and communication technology has helped open doors, while there is growing recognition by companies that diversity empowers innovation, a belief backed by numerous studies. Read Thomas Claburn’s article Secrets To Successfully Leading A Diverse, Distributed Workforce for Information Week to learn more.

A 2015 Gallup Poll found that Millennials…

…are the least engaged cohort in the workplace, with only 28.9% saying that they are engaged at work. This, combined with high turnover rates and greater freelance and entrepreneurial opportunities, means that if companies want to retain these valued workers, they will have to double their efforts to meet Millennials where they are. One of the ways executives can adapt management and communication styles to engage Millennials and improve productivity is to embrace technology and make collaboration a way of doing business. Others are to train managers and supervisors to communicate openly, effectively, and frequently and to loosen up the notion of the career ladder. Read Tracy Benson’s post for Harvard Business Review Motivating Millennials Takes More than Flexible Work Policies to get more details on the story.

Email, as a technology, is not intrinsically…

…bad. But the unstructured workflow it engenders is disastrous. A common misunderstanding about our current tempestuous relationship with email is that most knowledge workers believe that email is a passive tool they choose to use to make their real work easier. But this technology is not passive; it instead actively changes what we mean by “real work.”. A consequence of this email workflow is that an organization’s tasks become entangled in a complicated network of dependencies with inbox-enslaved individuals sited at each node. The only way to keep productive energy flowing through this network is for everyone to continually check, send, and reply to the multitude of messages flowing past—all in an attempt to drive tasks, in an ad hoc manner, toward completion. Read Cal Newport’s, author of Deep Work, POV on the subject in his Harvard Business Review post A Modest Proposal: Eliminate Email.

Especially for today’s knowledge-based work,…

…much of what we need to know we learn from others’ experiences, through what’s called vicarious learning. Organizations know this learning is important, which is why they invest significant resources in handbooks, protocols, formal mentoring programs, and knowledge management systems to share employees’ experiences. Yet analyst estimates suggest that the companies in the Fortune 500 still lose a combined $31.5 billion per year from employees failing to share knowledge effectively. By trying to recreate the wheel, repeating others’ mistakes, or wasting time searching for specialized information or expertise, employees incur productivity costs and opportunity costs for the organization. Get some tips on how to create the conditions that enable coactive vicarious learning is a central way from Christopher Myers’s article for Harvard Business Review Is Your Company Encouraging Employees to Share What They Know?.

Do you have a “knowledge base” system that…

…fulfills the role of the Jedi Library? Jed Cawthorne asks following a Star Wars analogy. He continues – “Or perhaps many such systems, maybe even a good search tool, but you’re still left wondering if something is missing from the results? Do you have your own resident expert to turn to? The highly knowledgeable individual who can do the equivalent of figuring out that something should be there because of the effects its invisible gravitational pull is having on other objects (information) around it?”. He also shares a useful allegory of what happens when hard won knowledge is accidentally discarded and the potential pain to be endured in learning it again. Read his post The Force Is Weak on Information Management for CMSWire for the complete allegory.

Happy Knowledge Sharing!

Looking for a great way to ask questions and build knowledge with your co-workers? Quandora enables simple, efficient knowledge sharing with your team, way more fun than a mailing list or a forum. Try Quandora

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