Drucker says, “The knowledge worker cannot be supervised”

By | August 25, 2014

Everyone who reads this blog, knows that I am a huge Drucker fan. This quote from The Effective Executive here (affiliate link), published in 1967, sums up how good consultancies run. Consulting firms are just a tribe of knowledge workers.

The knowledge worker cannot be supervised closely or in detail. He can only be helped.   – Peter Drucker

An effective consulting team or group is made up of competent, cognitive thinkers, who trust each other, and build credibility and trust with clients. It is a loose affiliation of free agents who “jam” and make executives and clients’ lives easier through their work.

They are not a Dilbert hierarchy of mangers watching, tracking, measuring, project managing other people. It is not full of status reports, and dashboards of progress. It is not SG&A or overhead. As Drucker said, [consultants] can only be helped.

As a consultant, my question to you is:

  • How have you helped your fellow team mates today?
  • What are you doing to build your practice?
  • Have you codified the learnings from your last project, so it helps others?
  • Are you always responsive when other consultants reach out to you for help?
  • During your day, what % of time was spent 1) solving client problems?  2) helping others 3) doing administrative duties?

As a manager, my question to you is:

  • Are you coaching your team, or micro-managing them?
  • Are you showing your team what good managers look like?
  • Are you giving away credit, and taking more of the blame?
  • Are you protecting people weaker than yourself?
  • Are you extending grace to junior consultants who make mistakes?
  • Are you giving truth and feedback / pushback to seniors, on behalf of the team?

Drucker help

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