Thursday, 4 February 2016

Does your personality type influence your career choice?

By Denise Carter MSc Editorial Board Member and Director of Dcision Consult Sarl

I think it does.  I chose to enter a profession, information, because it fundamentally appealed to my preference for the orderly and organised, my natural curiosity, and my desire to do something helpful. I had also explored being a physiotherapist or speech therapist but even at 15 fortunately for any prospective patients I was self-aware enough to recognise that patience is not one of my virtues.  In my career I have participated in several personality testing workshops, and the results, for examples the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® - ISFJ (Introversion; Sensing; Feeling; Judging), and Success Insights® – predominately  “Blue” (questioning, analytical) and “Green” (caring, sharing) have confirmed that my personality is well suited to the research and information-sharing  aspects of my information roles.

Being an introvert in an extrovert world

However when I view those traits in the wider context of the commercial organisations I have I have worked in, I have in many ways been a fish out of water. In order to succeed in environments where other personality traits are more dominant and can be perceived as having more value, has meant being more aware of not only how I think and react to different situations but more importantly become hyper-aware of how others may think and behave very differently to the same situation.

The view from the other side

Working with, and reporting to, people who naturally respond differently on fundamental issues is something we all need to recognise. One personal example which certainly had an impact for me was being asked at a team-building course to list what would count as a reward. Top of my list was recognition; top of almost everyone else’s was money.  I have to admit money had never even entered my head.  For me it was a light-bulb moment of recognising that the way I saw the world was fundamentally different to the people I was working with on a day-to-day basis, and in order to operate successfully in that world I needed to find a way to put see the world through their eyes when it came to key business actions and decisions. Since then I have learned to have my own reaction to events and situations and then take a few minutes to think through how likely it is others will have the same reaction, and if it is different what would their response be?  It’s not easy but it’s important so you are able not only to survive but also to thrive.

Do all information people think the same way?

If you’ve ever undergone a personality type testing as part of a group you can usually see how the types tend to cluster in teams. In my own experience doing this as part of a business intelligence function where we were all doing essentially similar roles the Success Insights® results were very common across all the group, with only a few outliers.  My guess (no empirical evidence available, and I’m going against my natural tendency for fact not theory) is that the majority of people in the information profession would share a high percentage of common personality traits.  Does that make it harder for information in organisations the visibility it needs? Are we more naturally cautious and not the competitive demanding individuals who always get heard and seen?

What’s the impact?

How we behave affects key business activities:

·      communication with our peers, customers and managers
·      selling the information “brand” within the organisation
·      making decisions
·      managing change
·      managing conflict

I believe that information professionals need to understand better the personal attributes that the information role, particularly in business, now demands and make sure that we develop those aspects of our personal profiles.  We all have the necessary attributes, it just that sometimes they are well-hidden.

What personal attributes are most desired by information leaders for today’s business environment?

In the “2016 Business Information Survey – Demonstrating the Commercial Mind-set”, due to be published in the March issue of BIR,  it was interesting to see how highly information leaders rated certain personal attributes and skills – especially those concerning confidence and communication.  Survey participants responses on desirable skills were ranked, and results clearly showed that having these kinds of personal attributes are valued more highly than information management skills in delivering a first class service.

Your personality type may well influence your career choice but how you then develop your personal attributes and skills certainly will impact your career success.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The importance of speaking up

I reviewed an article recently on communication and the effects of employees speaking up on managerial style and company communication flow.  It was an interesting article, which although only focussing on Asian companies, illustrated a number of important lessons including the implications not just for managerial style and management skills but also I felt on knowledge sharing within organisations.

Knowledge sharing is a part of the much larger continuous learning cycle – learn before, during and after doing.  This itself relies on a willingness and freedom to communicate, something that the study above shows is an increasingly complex task particularly in large multi-national organisations.

It reminds me of a project I worked on for an organisation about 12 months ago helping them to develop a learning programme that would be deployed globally and taught through e learning and virtual learning.  The method of deployment relied heavily on participants to proactively communicate freely, effectively sometimes in a language that was not their mother tongue.

We found that the most effective way to encourage communication was through development of a learning charter that everyone (students and teachers alike) agreed to before commencement of the programme.  The learning charter set out a set of guidelines for behaviour, interaction, time keeping and consideration of others.  It was the basis for developing an open environment where individuals felt they were able to express themselves and would be listened to and where there was no fear of repercussion for getting something wrong.  In addition to the learning charter, part of the success of the programme was getting the ‘teachers’ to develop a consultative coaching style to provide flexibility in the programme – giving more time and encouragement to those that needed it.  The programme was so effective that within six months of launch it had a waiting list of participants.

We hope to be covering more on communication, learning and associated KM techniques in later issues.  We would be keen to hear of your experiences.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Knowledge Management – Don’t Forget The SME’s!

Blog post by Stephen Dale of Business Information Review Editorial Board

The research paper by Cheng Sheng Lee and Kuan Yew Wong in the December of issue of  Business Information Review raises a number of interesting points that deserve wider discussion. The research focused on the effectiveness of knowledge management techniques in Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in Malaysia. Though the scope of the research is limited to one geographic region, the findings could – and should – be tested against a wider and more international cohort.

According to the research paper, in Malaysia, SME’s account for up to 98.5 percent of the total number of businesses and contribute up to 33.1 percent of GDP. They employ 57.5 percent of the total workforce.

To offer some comparison, UK, SME’s account for over 99.8 percent of the total number of businesses, they contributed over half of UK output in 2013 (GVA) and employ 48 percent of the total private sector workforce.

It is clear from this data that SME’s make up a significant, and growing, contribution to the UK and European economies. It seems quite odd, therefore, that so little research has been undertaken into how knowledge management strategies and techniques have been utilized within and across this sector.

The Cheng Sheng Lee/Kuan Yew Wong research gives us some insights that could be tested against a wider geographic sample of SMEs. Some key points from the research as follows:

·        The literature research identified that the size of an organization affects its behaviour and structure (Edvardsson, 2006; Rutherford et al, 2001) and how it influences the adoption and implementation of KM (Zaied et al, 2012).

·        SME’s should not be perceived as homogenized groups. They themselves can be categorized according to relative size, e.g. micro, small and medium, which can influence the way that KM is implemented.

·         In terms of human capital, medium-sized businesses (SMEs) focus more on codification strategies (explicit knowledge) whereas micro-sized businesses (SMEs) are more dependent on socialization strategies.

·        An obvious point, but reinforced by the research – the need for better infrastructure, such as tools, office layout, rooms etc. increases as the organizations grows.

·        Knowledge Maturity is a key attribute that should be monitored measured. The value of an employee will increase in terms of their contribution to the success of the organization as they progress from beginner, intermediate and advanced staged of KM maturity. Clearly the impact of an employee leaving without an effective knowledge transfer process will be more keenly felt by a small organization. [NB. This is not an excuse for large organizations to treat this is a lower priority!]

·        Company size does make a difference to KM performance measurements. A number of factors are proposed, e.g. impact of high turnover, limited resource redundancy in smaller organizations, smaller organizations will likely prioritize implementation processes over performance measurements etc.

·        KM performance measurement (KMPM) is still new for SME’s, as the majority of analyst reports and case studies remain focused on large organizations, with a mindset that SMEs do not need or are not ready for KMPM.

Overall, this is an excellent piece of research, and highly recommended reading, which despite it’s limited sample size and geographic boundary, gives some very useful insight into how KM is being implemented across SME’s. Reassuringly it shows that a growing number of SME’s see KMPM as vital to the growth and success of their business.

The paper is also a wake-up call to academia, research, analyst and consultancy organizations in that we need for more definitive and comprehensive studies in this field, to embrace UK, Europe and other key industrial and economic zones.

To finish with a quote from the authors: “Enough with large organizations; SMEs should not be neglected as they play a major role in a country’s economic growth”. Who could disagree?

Thursday, 3 December 2015

December’s Business Information Review

Our latest issue is now out online and I thought it would be useful to take a quick look at it.  The articles are an eclectic mix of topics, covering a lot of ground from knowledge management (KM), to information asset management, professional development to information systems transition. Below is a short overview of what you can expect.
KM performance measures Cheng Sheng Lee and Kuan Yew Wong from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia take a look at knowledge management performance measures in micro-sized, small and medium-sized enterprises.  Professional knowledge is often associated with large companies and organizations, who generally have the resources to develop effective KM strategies utilizing a host of techniques and who stand to get the most out of tacit knowledge.  But what of small to medium sized organizations?  Is KM a useless concept? Lee and Wong investigated organizations in Malaysia and found there were definite benefits for smaller organizations in utilizing KM techniques.
Why is information the elephant asset? Reynold Leming discusses the importance of treating information as any other business asset, utilizing asset management techniques. He highlights how asset management has often disregarded information from its remit and sets out a clear and extremely useful approach for developing an Information Asset Register.
Towards a Rosetta Stone Managing legacy systems and migrating information and data is very much an issue in most organizations.  Morton, Beckford and Cooke of Loughborough University present their research on the possibility of creating a ‘Rosetta Stone’ to facilitate this process.
Developing your career in information Both for those just starting out and for the more seasoned professional, this article by Victoria Sculfor, Sue Hill and TFPL Recruitment, discusses professional development, the importance of networking on and off line.  It covers all aspects of career development and contains some useful links to helpful resources.
Developing and implementing policy Another returning author, Danny Budzak takes a look at a continuing concern of many organizations: developing and implementing information policy.  Drawing on his professional experience, he looks at what to consider to develop and implement an effective information policy that all areas of the organization buy into.

Our regular columnists Martin White and Allan Foster return looking at a range of issues from the effects of language and global organizations to the latest in IT and Technology related to information management issues, big data, open data and big data analytics.