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THE PRODUCTIVITY COUNCIL: Craftsmen of our fate: 2

KAREN A. COLLINS, training and development officer

THE PRODUCTIVITY COUNCIL: Craftsmen of our fate: 2

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AS ORGANISATIONS LOOK to improve productivity and secure our prosperity, the result has been that employees are being asked to do more with less and faster, that they quickly adapt to the changes being made, that they be innovative in their thinking and contribution to the organisation.

Is this a realistic expectation given the current perceptions of both employees and managers noted earlier?

Management guru Peter Drucker, in his book Management Challenges For The 21st Century, brings some clarity to the issue. He speaks of a new paradigm based on the facts discussed above, that is, that we now exist in a knowledge society which is based on advances in education, science, culture, technology and therefore communication.

Drucker asserts that knowledgeable workers are essential to the modern economy. This hinges upon the view that people are an organisation’s most valuable resource and that a manager’s job is to prepare them through continuing education, development and training.

In a 1999 article Managing Oneself, published in the Harvard Business Review, Drucker asserts that in the knowledge-driven economy or knowledge society in which we now live, success lies in knowing oneself, one’s strengths, ones values and how best one performs. Perhaps this is the missing piece of the puzzle!

Drucker’s assertions point to a crucial area of deficiency which seems to have been missed by employers and employees alike. Perhaps the reason that some of us as employees have not recognised our full potential is that we lack a true understanding of what is required to move from where we are to a new period of productivity and prosperity.

Drucker shows the way. He urges us to learn to manage and develop ourselves. He encourages the individual to know their strengths and work on improving them but warns us against a “disabling ignorance” which is caused by “intellectual arrogance”.

Furthermore, we must examine and seek to understand how we perform, how we learn and what conditions are best for us to perform at optimum levels.

We must find out what our values are since what an individual does well might possibly not fit into their system of values.

Finally, we should question where we belong and what contribution we want to make to our team, our organisation and, by extension, our community and our country.

Managing oneself and mastering personal effectiveness are not easy tasks.

There is a great need for introspection which drives personal and social awareness and the ability to make the best use of the resources we have available to us: our time and our talents. It’s important that we recognise, understand and fulfil our role in the organisation.

This can only be achieved if the proper foundation is laid.

Does the average employee or manager engage in this type of introspection?

It cannot be denied that the organisation has a role to play since it is believed that organisations can increase their productivity by providing opportunities for employees to examine themselves, their personal effectiveness and for self-monitoring and management.

However, the employee also needs to understand that they must drive this initiative.

It matters little if an organisation is doing all it can to motivate an employee who has no idea what their goals, strengths and weaknesses are.

If we are to secure our nation’s prosperity through productivity and innovation, we need to meticulously integrate that missing piece into the puzzle in order to gain the full picture and achieve the desired result.

We must more seriously acknowledge and address that component which is at the core of the new paradigm introduced by Drucker: people!

The success we need is to be achieved through people who are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, who are focused on self-improvement and are therefore better able to make a contribution to their organisations and therefore their country.

Employees and employers must stop the blame game, create a clean slate and add self-awareness and self-management to our existing practices as we look to the future.

Success in the knowledge-intensive service society which drives our economy is dependent on the knowledge and creativity of our human resources.

Perhaps this is best summed up in the words of our National Anthem which affirms the individual’s role in securing the success of our nation.

We must, each one of us loyal sons and daughters, play an active role in crafting our fates.