The 6 Factors of Knowledge Worker Productivity: Chapter 11 – The 6 Factors and Leaders & Culture

In the previous chapters I’ve outlined the 6 factors of Knowledge Worker Productivity and tried to give you a sense of why they matter. The 6 factors are frighteningly simple and some would say obvious, but they are based on a concrete review of studies undertaken all over the world, and for the first time we can have some real confidence in these pillars such that we can drive a whole organisation to achieve them. To maxmise your organisations potential, requires strong workplace management skills from a workplace strategy leader.

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So let’s move away from the theory and think about what the 6 factors could mean for leaders and culture.

First of all, given the scientific derivation of these factors, we think all leaders and their teams at all levels should spend time understanding them in some depth in order that they can articulate them well and have a depth of understanding such that they are competent to teach others.

The use of coaching, private study, briefings, on-line videos, or workshops are powerful tools for learning. Armed with these understandings, leaders should systematically review their leadership style, practises and processes so that the likelihood of achieving the best conditions is maximised.

This review might include:

  1. Levels of trust up and down and across the organisation. How trusting are relationships up and down and across the organisation? Can people rely on what they are told? Have promises been broken in the past that are impacting on trust? Do people keep their promises? Do leaders (in particular) understand that their ‘trustability’ relies on keeping promises and providing information with integrity that can be relied upon?
  2. Existing leadership capabilities, styles and models for recruitment. How comfortable are leaders in being ‘socially cohesive’? What are their attitudes?
  3. The behaviours and cohesiveness of the leadership community. Are they acting as role models to others on the 6 factors?
  4. Recognition and performance management systems. Are they aligned to the 6 factors or do they create divisions? Are you rewarding the right behaviours? Are you making heroes of the people who live the 6 factors?
  5. Organisational culture and processes. Are there things that support the 6 factors? Are there things that get in the way of them? Is employee engagement high enough to increase productivity.
  6. How social IT tools are/could be used to aid knowledge sharing. Do you have tools like Jive, Yammer? Are people comfortable and confident to use them?
  7. Organisational structures. Is you structure promoting ‘upward only’ progression? Is it creating unhelpful competitiveness between peers that work against social cohesion?
  8. The degree to which structures and measurement. Do your structures create ‘you win, I loose’ competitive situations?
  9. Performance Management. Do personal objectives link to team objectives and organisational vision? Do people have an opportunity to share their objectives and discuss personal objectives with people in the team and with people in other teams? How is employee performance being reviewed and rewarded?
  10. Relationships between teams and divisional. Do you see/hear Organisational ‘prejudice’? Is there ‘history’ between teams that get in the way of them working with other teams? Are there organisational stereotypes and attitudes that discourage cohesion? You need to improve productivity by improving workplace relationships.
  11. The processes associated with developing/sharing/discussing corporate strategy, vision and the linkage with team goals and personal objectives.
  12. Workplace strategy, training of leaders, social induction of new recruits into teams. Workplace productivity depends on getting the foundations right.
  13. Is there a proactive process for people to spend time with other teams and external groups?


Bringing the 6 factors to life

How do you bring the 6 factors to life? Easy to talk about but not so easy to do given existing initiatives e.g. Investors in people, ISO 9000, Sunday times to 100 etc. First I’d say the 6 factors of knowledge worker productivity is based on sound evidence and consequently should have a high priority in you organisations thinking.
Second, The 6 factors will prevail for some time as a scientifically based baseline for organisational development.’ve got to start somewhere!

One way to attack this daunting task is to form a 6 Factors Steering Group of senior leaders. 2 or more take responsibility for reviewing each specific factor and subsequently come forward with Proposals to improve performance on their factor. In parallel form an infrastructure group made up of CRE, FM, HR and IT representatives. Each of these subgroups then take responsibility for proposing actions to the Steering Group and ultimately implementing agreed actions.

To give the Steering Group some data to work with, you can use an on-line survey to find out how people feel about each of the 6 factors in relation to their own team and the other teams they have dealings with. This reveals strengths to be celebrated and weaknesses to be worked on. The strength of this approach is that you can unemotionally reveal organisational stresses and strains and work on them.

Pretty quickly you’ve raised awareness of the 6 Factors of Knowledge Worker Productivity and put in place an action plan to improve on all factors. Now you need an investment pot and a way to monitor actions and keep the energy alive month in month out, keeping the 6 factors in the spotlight amid changes on personnel, organisation structures and business challenges.

Next time we’ll look at the ways in which the workplace can be designed as a tool to support the 6 factors.

Call a workplace consultant today on  +44 207 743 7110 to find out more about changing the attitudes of your leaders and employees. Alternatively, you can email with your inquiry. Advanced Workplace Associates are based in London, United Kingdom but now work internationally across the United States of America, Asia and Europe.

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