South-Western - Management  
Motivating Workers By Giving Them a Vote
Topic Motivation
Key Words Motivation, knowledge initiatives
News Story 

Today's corporate companies are successful when they find ways to motivate skilled professionals to share expertise and cooperate with other professionals for the benefit of the company. "Communities of Practice" have become one way to do that.

Schlumberger Ltd. is an oil-field-services company with 52,000 employees in 80 countries. In the past, engineers, physicists, and geologists worked on individual projects, but the company did nothing to help them develop their professional sides. The company started by having employees register themselves as members of one of 20 groups and post CVs online to describe themselves. It was an enormous success, with more than 50,000 self-created CVs now posted.

Next, each community elected a leader. Each nominee had to be backed by at least one other member of the community and have his or her manager's consent, since it would involve a significant chunk of their time. This democratic process has been very successful in an otherwise hierarchical organization, particularly since technical professionals are often motivated by peer review and peer esteem rather than corner offices and stock options.

The company feels the program has been successful and cost effective.

Questions
1.

Define motivation. Why is it important that a company seek ways to motivate its employees to share their knowledge?

2.

Search the Internet for another example of a company that is utilizing "knowledge communities," and explain what they are doing and why it is beneficial.

Source "Motivating Workers By Giving Them a Vote," The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 25, 2005.
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