Do You Know Any Smart Workers?


By Jack Rosenberger

The normal calm and quiet of my train ride into New York City was upended the other morning when a pair of middle-aged men, both of whom apparently work for the same financial-services company, spent too much of the 38-minute commute excitedly and loudly talking about work. (Apparently more interesting topics did not exist.) It was a largely forgettable conversation except that toward the end of their lengthy exchange, one of the men exclaimed, “What I love about Steve is that he is such a hard worker!” I revisited the men’s conversation later that morning as I hurried down Fifth Avenue to the CIO Insight office, and it occurred to me that we often talk about hard workers, but we rarely talk about smart workers.  

If we over-focus on people who work hard, then we probably under-focus on people who work smart. If smart working seems less emphasized than hard working in your workplace, here are a few questions to consider:

How do you define smart working?

What are the characteristics of smart workers? Put another way, what do smart workers do that not-smart workers don’t do?

Who are the smart workers in your department? In your company?

How do you encourage and support them?

My hope is that these questions will inspire you to think about smart work and smart workers—and about how you treat your smart workers. Remember: If your smart workers don’t feel adequately appreciated and supported, they are smart enough to find a company that will appreciate and support them.

About the Author

Jack Rosenberger is the managing editor of CIO Insight.   


2 Comments for "Do You Know Any Smart Workers?"

  • Carol Harte April 17, 2013 7:54 pm

    My experience is that hard workers dig deep produce lots of detailed information are always busy and usually obsessed with organizing anything and everything. Very often though they have a tough time assimilating drawing conclusions seeing/reinventing the big picture. The converse of that of course is the often generational view that quick action based on a few unexamined facts defines a smart worker. I've made if clear over the years to my employees that neither group impresses me as smart.. The really smart worker digs deep in the muck for detailed information but also knows when it's time to surface with a conclusion and a plan forward. ...

  • Anonymous April 15, 2013 1:42 pm

    I believe that the appreciation of hard worker has a lot to do with the previous situation of work as doing things like making items moving items packing items. In those situations the result of hard work could be seen in the number of items made moved and packed. What is the measure of a smart worker Sometimes it is the facility in getting mental things done or contacting people who need to be contacted including knowing where to find them or even writing something that people can use to understand what is next. How do we measure when someone is smart enough to do these tasks or smarter enough to do them better?...

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