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Becoming an Indespesible Employee

Caitlin Richardson 
What it means to be a Good Knowledge Worker

It is common knowledge in today's business environment that the market has gone global. Even small, seemingly local businesses have ties overseas and across borders. As businesses expand all around the world, the business processes grow increasingly complicated and complex. As a result, many businesses are using information technology to tie together and coordinate the many business processes taking place all around the world. Employees in these companies then tend to fall into one of two primary camps: those that cannot keep up with the rapid technological advances, and those that can. Those that can are able to filter through the onslaught of overwhelming quantities of information provided by these systems and mold that information into relevant and applicable content that will aid in decision making. Need for these capable individuals is mounting. These individuals are what is called Knowledge Workers.

A Knowledge Worker:

1. Uses information and Communication Technology to make, access, or utilize data to increase their and the company's productivity (Magal, Essentials of Business Processes and Information Systems). They use both structured and unstructured information, meaning that they use easily accessed and obvious information as well as information that is tougher to realize that you need or is difficult to find a way to access.

2. Will perform non routine jobs everyday. They have to think through their problems and work and work outside the box. Technology is advancing so quickly that Knowledge Workers are often swimming in uncharted territory. To access and appropriately utilize the necessary information the workers have to be able to work outside dictated parameters and find their own trail to the answer (or even the question in order to find the answer) that they require. Each task performed can vary and requires the Knowledge Worker to be constantly on their toes.

3. Constantly pulls data from numerous sources in an attempt to form relevant conclusions. This is key because the Knowledge Worker has to be able to determine: 

1) the appropriate question; 

2) what information is necessary to answer the question; 

3) what resources are available that contain said information; and 

4) to pull that information and draw significant conclusions. This is called information literacy.

4. Knows the big picture of the company and their place within it. This is central to being a Knowledge Worker because it aids in determining what constitutes relevant information. This is called thinking strategically. This is called communication and collaboration and is one of the most important parts of being a knowledge worker. It puts the rest of the work done into perspective. No one process or function is isolated anymore. No one operates in a functional silo. Recognizing this fact assists employees in increasing communication, collaboration, and productivity.

Being a quality Knowledge Worker is expected of most graduating Business students. Employers assume that these graduates have a capacity for thinking strategically through any problems thrown at them, especially given their fresh perspective on business processes and their more recent (i.e. less outdated) education. Knowledge Workers are expected to know how to process information to provide strategic conclusions. 





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