Blog Post

Rewarding and recognizing knowledge sharing

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 15 September 2002



Rewarding and recognizing knowledge sharing
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Posted DateSunday 15 September 2002 00:34 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
CategoriesKnowledge Management; Knowledge Sharing; Measures, Targets and Rewards
PeopleCarla O’Dell, Hazel Hall , Alfie Kohn
CountryUnited States
Related LinksAPQC

This is an interesting article on Rewards and Recognition in Knowledge Management from the AQPC (unfortunately it is no longer available on their site.) In it the APQC President Carla O’Dell is quoted as saying :
"What has been interesting in the 30 years of research is that as you increase extrinsic motivation, you can drive out intrinsic reward. For example, if you give people $20 every time they come to a community of practice event and then stop giving them that, they are going to be upset. Be cautious about attaching extrinsic rewards to behavior you want to persist over time.”
Speaking personally I am very much against extrinsic motivation to reward or encourage knowledge sharing. Its like saying 'this is not really part of your job' or worse 'this is a distasteful part of your job' and so we are we going to reward you separately to do it.

This is totally the wrong message to be giving and can only undermine knowledge sharing in the long term. Knowledge sharing is a fundamental and integral part of every knowledge workers job - not so different to breathing! Why the hell should you single out the key essence of a knowledge workers job - to mind what they are really getting paid for and reward them separately for it. It is just plain crazy.

Disincentives need to be removed and knowledge sharing needs evangelizing and supporting. Recognition is also important. But to my mind the prime way forward is to encourage people to talk openly with each other and to think about knowledge sharing for themselves. You may also need to facilitate such conversations.

This is in the hope (yes hope - you cannot mandate it) that they will come to understand that knowledge sharing is actually not only in the organizations interest but also their own.

If intelligent people who are intrinsically motivated to do a good job of work cannot see the value of knowledge sharing then maybe there is really no value in it for them or the organization but I very much doubt that!

Later in the day Sunday: I love this article by Alfie Kohn - if you have any lingering doubts about the stupidity of rewarding knowledge sharing then read this article!

Video Playlist: Alfie Kohn

This is a playlist of video clips of Alfie Kohn

Media Information: Image

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
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