Friday, February 27, 2009

Competent to the Core!

Seven core competencies to develop and sustain a competent workforce

With businesses getting increasingly global, organisations are making considerable efforts to don a global appeal. However, it is hard to win a good bargain in a globalised economy. Globalisation brings with it certain challenges that call for changes in the method of business execution. Organisations operating in the globalised corporate landscape have on them a huge responsibility that entails fine-tuning their existing processes. The major changes envisaged include an overhaul in the workforce deployment techniques, distribution and production patterns and networking with employees, customers, employees and suppliers. The global enterprise of today is positioned to leverage all possible sections of business that look promising from a value creation perspective. Interactions between different quarters of business, that include internal and external stakeholders, customers and suppliers is one of the most critical determinants of success in the globalised workplace. Understanding how different components of making a competent organisation are juxtaposed leads us to appreciate the role of workforce management in the making of a globally integrated enterprise.

Several drivers play a critical role in building a global enterprise. However, it is finally the involvement of individuals and their execution capabilities that determine its success. Hence, undermining workforce management in the globalised corporate landscape can sabotage the process of building an integrated workplace. Having underscored the role of workforce management in building and sustaining a globally integrated enterprise, organisations need to work towards developing core competencies that would help them manage their workforce with a perspective of delivering performance. While every organisation is fighting for its own space in today's era of extremism, only those that manage to build critical competencies, as a part of their workforce management strategy would succeed. Most successful organisations cite two or three factors as determinants of their success. However, experts believe that in order to maintain a sustainable growth story, organisations need to develop seven core competencies. These competencies are critical for developing workforce capabilities and meet the demands of today's dynamic corporate landscape. The onus of developing these competencies lies largely with HR, however support from other functions is important to lend a complete and holistic approach to the process.
The seven havens
As mentioned earlier, a competent workforce requires an organisation to build upon seven core competencies. These include:
An insightful understanding of workforce capabilities
The first and the most critical pre-requisite for building a competent organisation is a clear and insightful understanding of its workforce demographics and capabilities. Leaders need to assess their standing in terms of talent and skills vis-à-vis their requirements. In addition, they should also be able to make predictions regarding the changes that are likely to impact the demographic picture of their talent stock. In order to get the right insight into workforce demographics, HR leaders need to focus on facts that provide information about human capital data, performance graphs and skills deployment. A clear understanding of these workforce parameters is important for HR leaders to make informed decisions regarding workforce deployment.
Understanding the 3 "C"s of labour demand-supply equation
While most leaders appreciate the role of making informed predictions about the future talent requirements, not many manage it successfully. In order to make meaningful and reliable predictions about the labour demand-supply equation leaders have to carefully analyse and infer the components that could threaten to create an imbalance. Experts believe that three factors can greatly impact the labour demand-supply equation, these are: capacity, capability and culture. Capacity denotes an organisations talent inventory and ability to build on it to meet future requirements. Capability is an organisation's competence in terms of skills, strategy execution and knowledge management, while culture underscores the alignment of corporate values with corporate intent. These three factors put together determine the success of making a globally integrated enterprise.
Tapping informal networks
Social networking is an inevitable by-product of formal networking. It is one of the most reliable sources of undocumented information that provides important cues to leaders about how to get work done, who commands respect among employees and what really irks employees. The informal knowledge conduits that emerge as a result of social networking thus should not be disregarded. Instead, it should be leveraged to their maximum potential.

Instituting support systems to enhance employee performance
Organisations should provide employees a congenial work environment that not only supports their work style but also helps them enhance their performance levels. Self-service tools for instance, can be integrated into corporate working to help telecommuting employees. Similarly, organisations should work on creating knowledge banks that can reduce information clutter and cut down on the time that employees spend on gathering useful data. A few techniques to boost employee performance:
Encourage informal collaboration across global locations
Organisations should provide a platform for employees to pursue their personal interests. For this employees must be encouraged to form groups based on their common interest thereby giving them an opportunity to indulge in discussions, meetings and other creative activities to propagate their interests.
Emphasis on employee education
Providing constant inputs to employees through formal training programmes and education tools is important to keep the workforce motivated and updated. Such corporate initiatives can prove to be extremely beneficial in lending companies a sustainable competitive advantage. Research reveals that organisations investing heavily in employee education initiatives enjoy better economic gains than organisations that have a rather conservative training budget.
Institute effective employee performance review and feedback systems Organisations that have a formal performance review and feedback system are far more profitable than organisations that demonstrate a rather casual attitude towards performance reviews. Offering employees guidance and feedback at regular intervals is extremely important to ensure sustainable performance levels. Organisations that manage to successfully develop these seven core competencies are better equipped to face the challenges put forth by increased globalisation. However, leaders and managers have to bear in mind that while these competencies figure as separate entities, they cannot be nurtured in isolation. Therefore, an integrated approach to building these competencies is important for achieving the desired level of performance.

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