The needs of professional Employee

The professional employee has five specific needs that must be satisfied if he is to be an effective and productive member of the enterprise (1) He must be a professional, yet must both make a contribution to the enterprise and know that he makes one and what it is (2) He must have opportunities for promotion as a professional employee and individual contributor. (3) He must have financial incentives for improved performance and greater contribution as an individual contributor. (4) His job must be that of a professional. (5) He needs professional recognition both inside the enterprise and in the larger community.

The objectives of the professional’s job have to remain professional objectives. Yet, they should at the same time always be set so as to include the maximum of business objectives. They should always provide both the maximum of managerial vision to the professional employee and a direct link between the work of the professional and its impact to the business.

One way to achieve this is to give the professional employee outside of, and separate from, his normal professional work a special assignment which will bring him into management. In one company for instance, the senior chemist – a man concerned exclusively with long range basic research in his work has been put on the budget committee of the company. That he knows nothing about finance and cares less was not considered an argument against his taking part in financial management. On the contrary, it was considered the strongest argument for it. The same problem was solved in a different way by a major pharmaceutical company faced by the need to integrate its patent lawyers into the business without undermining their professional competence and integrity in the patent field.

Large patent departments present a particularly difficult problem of reconciling business objectives and professional standards. The high grade patent lawyer is apparently apt to think in terms of “faultless patent work” rather than in terms of the company’s need. Yet, patents, particularly if taken out on a world wide basis are not only a major capital outlay. Patent strategy has decisive impact on the success of a pharmaceutical business.

In this particular company the problem has been solved by the formation of a Patent Committee, composed of three senior men from the patent department, and the top marketing research financial and manufacturing people. Meeting once, every two months for three whole days, the patent needs of the company and its patent strategy are worked out by the whole group. It is up to the patent lawyers after that to do their work according to their professional competence without any interference from management. It took ten years to think up this obvious solution, according to a company’s executive vice president; ten years during which there was constant friction between management and the patent people with each accusing the other of stubbornness and shortsightedness. Now we do an infinitely better patent job at half the cost.

To make the professional capable of seeing the objectives of the business therefore gets across to him what the business demands of him as an employee.

Bringing the individual contributor close to the business and its problems is also the only way to avoid “projectitis” – a common disease resulting from attempts by management to control professional work which they do not understand. Management understandably wants to see results; it gets ‘projects’ going usually focused on immediate urgencies rather than on long range thinking. But the only way to get real benefit out of high grade professional people is to hire good men and then let them do their own work. For that, however, they have to understand the business and its objectives and have to be able to figure out for themselves where they can make the greatest contribution and how.