The New, Networked Work Environment

An increase in knowledge work: Definitions of “knowledge workers” vary, but more employees are collecting, managing and analyzing data and making decisions using information as a primary part of their roles. However, less than 40 percent of employees are able to effectively analyze information to make decisions, according to 2012 CEB research, leading to poor performance and greater organizational risk.

Frequent organizational change: A persistent aspect of the new work environment is frequent, significant organizational change. In 2012, 63 percent of employees reported experiencing an increase in the frequency of changes in organizational objectives during the three years prior, according to CEB research.

More interdependent work: Employees today share formal responsibilities, authority and accountability for more work outcomes than ever before. Informal working relationships have always been important to performance, but getting work done today requires more collaboration among a broader and more diverse set of people. Case in point: 60 percent of employees report working with 10 or more people on a daily basis, according to CEB research.

In short, the “individual contributor” is a thing of the past. Employees need to work with and through others to succeed in the modern, knowledge-based enterprise. As such, organizations must move beyond working to build employees’ ability to carry out individual tasks and objectives, and instead focus on building network performance.

And to demonstrate high levels of network performance, employees must contribute to their networks by sharing resources, feedback, advice and innovations that can improve the performance of their peers and the organization. Equally important, they should seek out and adopt new ideas from others in their networks to improve their own performance.