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Training and Development

Once the job-holder passes their probationary period, they’re given training and development opportunities to build their technical skills. Nearly all these training and development opportunities are designed to improve the employee’s current and future job competencies. Training programs that build non-job competencies—such as team development, creative thinking, and emotional intelligence—although more widespread than previously, are ancillary considerations to learning technical skills. Training to improve job-specific competencies is still the main approach to organizationally-sponsored employee development.

Training with a technical orientation aids the job-holder to develop their skills-set to do their job tasks with more capability. It’s been this way since the birth of industry. Taylor’s emphasis on specialization, and his one best way approach, amplified the relevance of technical training. There’s no doubting the necessity of technical training.

But surviving and prospering in a rapidly transforming economy means that companies need to do more than build technical capacity. There are unique problems, challenges, and dilemmas employees face regularly, where procedural knowledge and skills learnt on a training course can’t be applied. In other words, there’s not always a convenient, clearly defined “cookie cutter” process to resolving the increasing array of complex problems employees are frequently bombarded with. Solutions to these predicaments aren’t always found in the company manual or the technical training curriculum; they require original thought and initiative.

The hyper-competition and unpredictable external environment has elevated the value of solving distinctive and perplexing problems and displaying resourcefulness, often on the spur of the moment. This is unlike the relatively stable and predictable marketplace of the twentieth century. This landscape can be neatly summed up with the acronym: VUCA. VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity—characteristics of the modern world we live in, and are familiar with.4

Personal attributes necessary to navigate the VUCA environment are outside the scope of the job description. Being agile, flexible, and creative, for instance, are some of the non-job-specific qualities of the successful twenty-first century employee, apart from their technical job skills. The job description relegates these personal attributes to the fringe and they are consequently not valued as highly as they ought to be.

I’ll have more to say about training and development in Chap. 10.

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