New Zealand Herald, 28 May 2008:
Gabrielle Young is the director of Stratus Consulting and also says that upskilling employees is best done onsite.
“While formal training has its place, it’s very clear – people learn on the job. Most of that development around the gaps in their competence can be done on the job,” Young says.
But some training does need to be formalised. Young says that includes things which are mission-critical or are “this is the way we do things around here” type of things. When everyone needs to be doing something the exact same way then formalised training is best. But for other tasks, Young says managers need to take a coaching approach rather than a telling approach.
“One of the huge things that people need to have in their organisation is a coaching culture – managers as coaches. They see it as their role to grow and develop people’s performance.”
If managers can facilitate employees in solving their own problems, they can upskill themselves. But Young says many small to medium businesses are just not aware of how to manage their talent. Organisations should know what it is their people need to be good at before they can upskill them. These basic competencies might include relationship management, drive for results, customer focus or attention to detail.
“The first thing to do is understand the capabilities the business needs – therefore, what competencies do my people need?” Young says.
Young says that if small businesses think about how they need to recruit, develop and retain staff in a more integrated way, they will be a lot better off.
Managers should be comparing a person’s progress against their goals on a six-month or annual basis as part of an overall talent management programme. And no, there is no guarantee that the efforts put into staff development will pay off. But with today’s highly mobile workforce, Young says a personal development policy is the best retention tool you can have.
“The research is really clear. People that are bright and talented, what they’re hungry for is development. It’s one of the most critical things anyone can be offered in a work context.”