managing professionals

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I often work in organizations that employ knowledge workers: highly skilled professionals. How to manage them presents specific challenges for managers. The article ‘conspiring fruitfully with professionals’ covers some basic pitfall and perspectives. The challenge is dealt with in a larger framework of dealing with complex issues in the book ‘Enjoying tough issues’.


Conspiring fruitfully with professionals

Hans Vermaak, Mathieu Weggeman - Management Decision, 1999
Evergreen lessons for dealing with professionals … and enjoying it.

Professionalism still is on the way up. However, the working methods of managers and professionals do not develop at the same pace. Professionals often seek out their workplace within an organisation but then proceed to act as soloists, which makes fragmentation, mediocrity and non-commitment the rule rather than the exception. The manager’s reflex dictates that he/she tackles problems with control and command, resulting in all sorts of conflicts. Read more…

Book summary ‘Enjoying tough issues’

Dynamics of innovation and stagnation

Hans Vermaak, Kluwer 2009
How to deal effectively with complex change? Based on years of research the Dutch book won many awards. To give English readers a ‘taste’, the original summary is made available here.

There is no shortage of tough issues: whether it is collaboration between professionals, external oriented government, sustainable economy or development cooperation. They are characterized by complexity of different kinds: many factors and many actors are involved. It makes tough issues hard to pin down and impossible to eradicate. The dominant change repertoires are ill equipped for tough issues: clear division of tasks and responsibilities, minimizing conflicts, drawing up organizational missions, rolling out large-scale change programs Read more…