“Get ready for a great boat ski,” Kofi thought to himself as he admired his black suit, white shirt and blue designer tie hanging on the wardrobe. It had been four years of hard work at a top university which surely paid off with a first-class honors certificate aside bagging many awards. He was the pride of many lecturers; the magic wand of his mates when it came to solving difficult problems. He was ready to face the corporate world.
The ability to develop and manage brilliant talents such as Kofi — to add value to a company and meet its objectives — seems to be a catch-22 for many employers. Academic success does not automatically translate into success at the work place.
Employers would not have been putting on sackcloth and ashes if all brilliant students performed brilliantly on the job. The likes of Aliko Dangote, Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Mensa Otabil, for example, have proved that success in the workplace and business in general is not only about first class in school. It is about competence, attitude and being productive.
One of the biggest mistakes some employers make is the assumption that people like Kofi will automatically and easily sail through with little training and support from management. They are often left to find their own feet and rock their own canoe with high expectation that productivity will be a sure bet.
From my article on “Work Productivity Series – Teasing the mind”, I established that being productive was not about quantity but quality work, value creation and meeting important goals and objectives. At the end of the day, one should be able to determine how much value has been added to the company. The goal is to be productive and not to be busy.
One of the arms of productivity is competence. According to the Oxford dictionary, “Competence is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently”. Productivity and competence are the joint responsibility of employers and employees.
The key role of employers in establishing competence in the organization is to ensure that an appropriate and effective system is in place to develop the competence of their staff. The roles and responsibilities together with the skills and experiences needed to fulfill each task must be clearly defined. This determines the persons to be hired and the recruitment process.
Another important factor to be noted is to ensure that the right people are not only employed but placed in the right roles. This will enable organizations get on a safe ride to their destination.
Additionally, a program that identifies that specific training requirements and needed support for each role to attain competence must be developed. The training should include some form of mentoring for a sound grounding.
An effective performance evaluation system is similarly needed to build an environment of competency in organizations. This begins with setting of SMART objectives which must be assessed against actual performance. A competent system requires that the wrong people be taken off the company. This must be done rightly.
For employees, it is important they understand that achievements and accomplishments are a result of performance and not potential. This appreciation fuels the desire and determination to add value and be competent.
Again, employees must know and understand that employers are looking for more than a good grade. Staff
should build themselves to be responsible, accountable, innovative and take ownership to grow and develop; good communication skills, ability to take decisions, serve, lead and influence.
The baseline is that companies do not pay for time. They pay for value. Therefore, all resources should be spent on becoming valuable, riding on the back of competence.