Competency is the hallmark of an employee
Regularly updating one's skills is the only route to success
Photo: Bijoy Ghosh
CONTINUOUS PROCESS: Acquiring more knowledge of the work is a must.
Till the advent of the new economy industry, we were using words such as `skilled', `semiskilled' and `unskilled' in our everyday interaction at the workplace, be it for recruitment, appraisals, rewards or for any other matter pertaining to the work place.
With the advent of the new economy, and the consequent emergence of the knowledge worker, all these have changed and we no more talk in terms of skill levels; instead we talk in terms of competencies, which add the dimensions of attitude and abilities.
We now concentrate on the ability to deliver rather than a readiness to do a particular job. It is this transformation that has added to the change of the complacency factor among the employees in organisations.
No more can anyone take it for granted that qualification and skills will see him/her through his/her appraisals; one has to be continuously upgrade ones' abilities to match with the ever changing requirements on the job front to be current and performing.
With the technology obsolescence rate being what it is and the personal obsolescence also tending to be very high indeed, the only mantra for long-term success in a world that is focused on performance and driven by changes is to "continuously update".
This requirement for updating comes at various stages of an employee's work life. The most important stages would be when an employee would move from execution to planning level and middle management personnel moving up to the senior management level
The first stage is around the fourth or fifth year when the employee would hope to move over from the executing to the planning/designing scenario. This would involve his/her ability to be in a position to forecast possible scenarios, evaluate the alternatives and to be able to recommend a course of action for the organisation. This would increase the ability to understand the broad business processes, environmental factors, stakeholders' requirements and expectations in addition to an ability to take risks.
To be equipped with these requires joint efforts of both the employers and the concerned employees. These could be addressed by additional classroom inputs on processes, analytical and forecasting tools and problem-solving and decision-making methodologies. One of the recent developments has been the emergence of collegiate programmes adopted by various organisations.
An Executive MBA degree at this level of the employee's tenure would enhance the strategic thinking capabilities of the executive and help him/her take informed and knowledgeable decisions.
The second stage where employees would feel the need for upgrading is during their middle management tenure and when they are advancing to senior management positions.
The requirements for such a transition include leadership skills, experience of operating in a global economy, ability to work in multi-cultural settings, operational restructuring and so on. These are generally achieved through special assignments, mentoring, job rotations etc in addition to attendance at high-end programmes conducted by global organisations/individuals.
It is increasingly becoming common for organisations to create learning centres/leadership development centres in-house to groom leaders for the future.
Change of mindset
In both these cases, the individuals concerned have no choice but to equip themselves for higher and different responsibilities. These require a change of mindset as well. People in these situations are constantly on the lookout for suitable courses to fulfil their needs and requirements.
On the supply side, we have too many institutes and universities offering courses of various hues claiming to address this issue. An inability to evaluate the efficiency of the right programmes drives people to desperation after finishing their courses, because they realise that either the course has been ill designed or the delivery has been inappropriate or both.
That leads us to the question "What should an ideal course be?" The answer to this question is in many parts.
First and foremost, the course should have a global focus. In order to be able to operate in a global environment, one needs to be exposed to the real variants in processes and methodologies that are likely to succeed. Mere expansion of geography will not do.
In order to be able to deliver programmes of global standards, the faculty members should possess global perspectives and exposure. These would be seen in faculty members who have had a rich exposure to various global organisations by way of participation in international research projects, paper presentations at global forums, teaching in international B-schools and offering consulting services to global organisations.
The second aspect is in terms of the curriculum. A repetition of the functional approach would in all probability fail. Cross functioning and the ability to design and operate processes to deliver results is the key.
For example, one could look at recruitment as a standalone activity of hiring numbers or look at it as an addition to the organisation's competencies to deliver.
The results in the latter would definitely be far superior and fit better with the organisation's vision. The same would hold true for other processes such as training, sourcing, market development etc.
The third aspect is the delivery. In academic terms this is known as pedagogy, which to a large extent determines the effectiveness of delivery. Institutions tend to adopt the time-tested pedagogy instead of innovating.
The most successful are the ones who dare to be creative. Simulations, scenario forecasting, business games etc are all in the direction of creative pedagogies.
The fourth aspect is the flexibility the course offers to the participants. Flexibility could be in the pace of learning, time of learning, and various other factors.
An individual or an organisation would have started on the right note if an evaluation of the alternatives had been carried out in the above framework.
(Dean, Administration & Continuing Education Programmes,
Institute of Finance and International Management)
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