BUSINESS AND LIFE: The Learning Organisation: Building a Career-Resilient Workforce – Part IV

Dr. Valda Henry
Dr. Valda Henry

In the past three weeks we explored the concept of a Learning Organisation and Career-Resilient Workforce. Last week we examined the steps in creating a learning organisation. This week we take a Caribbean perspective on the issue.

We recognize that becoming a Learning Organisation and creating a Career-Resilient Workforce is easier said than done, especially in our Caribbean.

What are some of additional roadblocks do we face in the Caribbean?
1. Culture – Very traditional approach to management and business, which includes the parent-child approach, and poor communication

2. Attitude to Training and Employee Development – Training is a costs and why train to enhance the marketability of employees?

3. Talent Management – There is no responsibility to provide work or an environment that fosters engagement and empowerment

4. Recruitment and Selection Processes – Haphazard. We hire “in crisis”

5. Finances – We cannot afford and this is chiefly because of the culture where training and development is not seen as a necessity.

Can we overcome these challenges and roadblocks? Of course in the now famous phrase of President Barack Obama, “Yes, We Can!” Saying those words however is not enough.
What do we need to do, to create more Learning Organisations and Career Resilient Workforces in the Caribbean?

I posit the following:

1. A clear vision for the organization – we need to have a long term view of where we are going and what success looks and feels like

2. Effective leadership – we have to lead by example

3. Commitment of the leadership to the concepts of the Learning Organisations and Career-Resilient Workforce – we have to provide the resources to provide and encourage continuous learning and strategic fit – Square pegs must be placed in square holes and round pegs in round holes.

4. Greater transparency and effective, open communication – Communication must flow freely throughout the organization. It is the oil that keeps the engine of the organisation working smoothly

5. Willingness to empower employees and to give them an opportunity for contributing to the strategy and direction of the organization – strategic planning should not be a once a year affair restricted only to board members and management. Greater involvement of all employees and continuous monitoring and evaluation is critical to success. Strategic plans should be living; breathing plans, and not relegated to shelves.

6. Creating a caring, supportive culture focused on delivering excellence and one where coaching and mentoring are key components – we have to develop a heart connection with our employees, so that they know that they are valued members of the organizational family. A sense of belonging is imperative.

7. Providing assessments for employees to identify strengths, weaknesses and preferences – this leads to a better understanding of oneself and others which fosters better and stronger relationships.

8. Conducting comprehensive HR Skills and Competency audits focused on the future of the organization and developing developmental plans and opportunities for employees to acquire those skills or to exit gracefully, with dignity

9. Constructively engage employees in mapping their careers and future – this is often a byproduct of an HR Audit and should be an element of the performance appraisal system, though managed separately

10. Recognise that training, personal and professional development of employees is an investment, not a costs – this is necessary to change the mindset and
culture of the organization

11. Aligning HR Strategies with Business Strategies, moving from transactional HR to transformational HR. This is also a cultural shift which requires HR to
be seen as a core component of the business

12. In keeping with the above recommendation, HR Professionals/Managers must recognise the importance of developing not just others in the organization but
themselves. In the Caribbean, in my experience, too many HR Managers do not appreciate fully and enough the need for them to be part of the continuous learning and career-resilient workforce. It is therefore no surprise that in tough economic times, the budgets with the deepest cuts are those of HR.

When HR Managers do not see the need to enhance their skills, knowledge and competencies, they do not have the moral authority and strength to defend their positions.

I end with the words of Mark Allen, in response the attitude of executives who question the logic of paying to educate employees who might jump ship, “I used to cite studies that show companies that invest in learning and development have much lower turnover rates than those who don’t. Now I answer, “what if you don’t educate them and they stay?” He continues “If training and development is an enabler of organizational performance, its all the more important during tough economic times.”
(A new U by Kathryn Tyler, HR Magazine, April 2012).

This concludes the four-part series on “The Learning Organisation: Building a Career Resilient Workforce”. Next week we commence our series on “Delivering Red Carpet
Customer Service”.

We welcome your comments, suggestions and questions. Email us at [email protected].

Valda Frederica Henry, VF Inc.’s CEO and Principal Trainer is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), Certified Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Practitioner, holds a PhD in Industrial Relations & Business, a Masters in Business Administration and a BSc Management Studies. VF Inc. is a Human Resource & Finance Consultancy firm with a Training and Recruitment arm, and the producer and host of a live TV program “The Cutting Edge of Business”.

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  1. Too Hard Too Long
    March 12, 2013

    This is very valuable information for employers. One point I want to make is that employers must surround themselves with employees who can get the job done. This often means hiring persons who are more competent than the employer. It is often viewed as dangerous but the fact is, these are the ones who can really grow your establishment.

  2. Willing to learn
    March 11, 2013

    Dr Henry this is great stuff and as you say it is easier said than done. What suggestions do you have for the employees of an institution where the BOD fail to see the critical need of a Strategic Plan, especially where the institution continue to make moderate profits? When the BOD was asked what is the strategic direction of the institution the response to the employees question is one of almost contempt and an opportunity to kill both the question and the “questioner”.

    • Too Hard Too Long
      March 12, 2013

      This is an example of the BOD being composed of “Square pegs in round holes”.

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