Thursday, August 26, 2010

Investing in Employee Development in Order to Stay Competitive and Meet Organisational Needs in the GOC

The federal government's Policy on Learning, Training and Development (2006) specifies that all employees must have learning plans aligned with departmental business priorities. The learning plans are intended to enable employees to acquire and maintain the knowledge, skills and competencies needed for their level and functions, and prepare them to do the next job. Accordingly, all public service employees are to be developed.

You've heard it many times: public service leaders are accountable for leading and managing people to achieve results aligned with strategic directions. This is a tall order at any time in a dynamic political environment marked by evolving priorities, shifting resources, changing employee expectations, and ongoing public scrutiny. However, people remain at the heart of it all – people who take on the challenges of leadership, and the people they lead.

Leaders need to strategically manage the flow of talent through their organizations so that the right people are in the right place at the right time. In the hurly burly of daily activity, however, leaders often focus less on developing people after they are on board.

While management's role in employee development is critical, it is important to remember that employees also need to take charge of their own development and be proactive in identifying their relative strengths, areas of development and outline a targeted learning plan. Moreover, employees must be determined to first develop the skills they need in order to excel in their current jobs, and be cognisant of the different resources made available for their development.

Results of the 2008 Public Service Employee Survey indicate that while employees are generally positive about their access to job-related training, they are less satisfied, however, with their supervisors' efforts to help them determine their learning needs and with the organization's support for their career development.

An organisation must continually invest in the development of employees' skills in order to stay competitive and meet ongoing business needs. An organisation that is focused on employee development is characterised as:

  • Delegating the authority so that people can act on their own.
  • Viewing the capability of employees as an important source of competitive advantage.
  • Continuously investing in the skills of its employees.
  • Constantly improving its "bench strength".
  • Ensuring employees have the required skills to do their jobs.

Y2 Consulting Psychologists, an HRM firm specialising in Government organisations, have led several workplace assessments in GOC departments and agencies. In the area of Capability Development, a number of surveyed employees indicated that there was a need for investment in the skills of employees since the capability and the necessary skills may not be present in all. Many agreed that the capabilities of employees are often not regarded as a critical source of competitive advantage, and as such little development effort is invested on day-to-day ‘on-the-job learning by doing' (i.e. delegating authority so that people can act on their own) and on more structured development initiatives.

We are interested in knowing how employee development takes place in your organisation and what are your suggestions to improve it.

Your input is important and will help us further our understanding of the factors that contribute to capability development.

Yaniv M. Benzimra, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychologist
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

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