Friday, August 29, 2008

Getting Ahead with Knowledge and Skill upgrade

In today’s fast changing and competitive business environment, just being good is not good enough. Organizations want their employees to excel and keep ahead of the competition and one of the ways to do so is by constant skill and knowledge upgradation of employees and workers.

This has now become a key issue as more and more organizations are going global and require people who are at least at par with the global world, if not ahead. Thus given the highly competitive market scenario that is prevalent globally, constant upgradation of skills and knowledge is a crucial prerequisite for all professionals at all levels to remain productive in their role and the respective positions.

Skill sets or requirements vary from role to role and are different for different departments. For example, at the entry or the junior level, execution and supervisory skills are most relevant while supervisory and leadership skills are more important at the senior levels. But soft skills are those essential skills that are required by everyone.

Generally, organizations may either provide training themselves or ask their employees to do the training and keep themselves on the top of competition. Besides training and new online certifications, companies are also opening up knowledge banks within the firms to enable the use of best practices and learning by all members or employees. Since it is not possible to send every employee for retraining or new courses, this knowledge transfer within the company helps them to achieve the purpose. Upgradation of skills thus can take place through training and seminars. Sharing of good practices within the organization and creating a knowledge bank which can be accessed by all employees is another technique to increase the skill sets of employees.

The Human resource department plays an important role in this area by evaluating employee performance by appraisal system. Through appraisals, the HR managers identify the strengths and weaknesses of each and every individual employee and provide recommendations for their training etc. Naturally, it is important to note that trainings or skill upgradation should be provided in areas where a need has been identified, and not just to meet the number of training hours. Moreover, it should help the employee to perform his/her current task in a better and more productive manner. Thus the training should be in line with the individual’s area of interest and responsibility, to ensure that there is maximum retention and usage of learning by the employees.

Job rotation is another way of training employees in different skill sets. In today’s highly competitive environment, it helps to have cross functional teams which can undertake various projects and job functions at different times. Thus horizontal rotation, is one of the most effective manner in which the person profile and role profile can be matched. It can be used as an opportunity to recognize an employee’s talent and potential for higher or different positions. Moreover, it also provides useful insights in determining future growth prospects of the employee and help to start grooming him/her for future position by identifying the training needs in particular areas.

Online learning programs are another popular options available to employees for upgrading their skills. These courses are generally modular and allow flexibility in terms of choosing and learning particular areas. The online tests and exams provide the necessary feedback to employees on their performance. These courses enable employees to take the course at their own convenience and speed.

Thus it is important for employers to encourage their subordinates to constantly upgrade their skills and encourage them to share their expertise amongst each other. On the other hand, an employee can hone his/her skills by making use of different opportunities given by the employers or on their own as well.

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