Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach: You'll Probably Find That Most People Feel Proud to Share Their Knowledge with Colleagues

Magazine article Management Today

First-Class Coach: You'll Probably Find That Most People Feel Proud to Share Their Knowledge with Colleagues

Article excerpt

Q: Having employed some new young recruits, I'm shocked at how much more than me they know about our industry. I've realised that my own knowledge is out-of-date, but with things changing so fast, it would take me a lot of time each month to keep abreast of new developments. I'd like to keep up, but how can I do so without looking as if I'm being bone-idle by just reading at my desk?

A: The truth is that with a few notable exceptions, such as thatching and flint-knapping, in almost every industry and walk of life the rate of change is phenomenal and unlikely to slow down. There is also more communication through more media on almost every subject. The result is that most of us aren't up-to-date with every development and feel swamped by the amount of new information we aren't getting round to assimilating.

There are two questions at issue here. The first is how much information (and of what type) we actually need to do our jobs effectively, and the second is how we download that information to make it of use.

One of the tests of how good a manager you are relates to how well you can lead and motivate people who have specialist knowledge you don't have.

The days are long gone when the head of department knew more than all his junior colleagues and could do their work as well or better. The advent of IT probably changed things here. Nowadays, the emphasis for managers is less on doing and more on creating the environment where others can give of their best.

In fact, the new thinking is that knowledge that resides only in one brain is a wasted organisational asset. This has led to a growing interest in knowledge banks and the emergence of the learning organisation. The idea behind this is that the business constantly evolves by sharing information and understanding, wherever it is situated - and by no means always at the top.

One way in which you can use this thinking is to get the people that report to you - especially newer recruits - to brief their colleagues and you on different aspects of the industry on which they have expertise.

It could be someone recently returned from a course or a conference who gives a 15-minute summary of the most important things they learned. …

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