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first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article LettersOn 30 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. This week’s lettersAre you releasing potential or just sweating the asset?Company brochures often talk about the importance of ‘releasing thepotential’ of all employees, thereby enabling them to feel fulfilled in theworkplace. By finding out what their wants and needs are, by enrollingemployees on relevant training programmes and by encouraging them to take anactive part in company-wide activities, it is hoped their pent up and untappedabilities will be released. But every thesis has its antithesis, and I have noticed in my discussionswith work colleagues, business associates and friends that instead of feelingfulfilled by the added opportunities being presented to them, some simply feeldrained by the process. Instead of releasing potential, they feel that as acorporate asset they have been well and truly sweated. Many people neither want nor expect all of their potential to be used in theworkplace. They see work as a place to come to earn some money, to do the jobthey’ve been asked to do, and then return home in the evening unscathed andunstressed. The last thing many want is for the goalposts to be constantlymoved or to be presented with new ‘challenges’ or ‘personal developmentopportunities’. In a recent management meeting I attended, an HR director was attempting tointroduce a ‘skills analysis’ procedure. All managers were asked to return totheir teams and attempt to classify their various team members’ talents,knowledge and interests into categories such as ‘interpersonal’, ‘coaching/teaching’,‘technical’, ‘creative’, ‘managerial/supervisory’ and ‘practical’ in an attemptto investigate whether or not the organisation was releasing the potential ofits staff and, more importantly, whether staff were getting the most out of theiremployment. No doubt the HR director’s intentions were honourable, yet when anothermanager indicated that his team might be suspicious of the process, I realisedhow important it is to explain and manage it effectively. Exercises of thisnature can be seen as an attempt by management to get more out of their teammembers for no tangible return. So where should the line be drawn between ‘releasing potential’ and‘sweating the asset’? Is there always going to be a division between those whoperceive such initiatives as a threat and those who see them as a realopportunity for personal fulfilment? The majority of us are not motivated by money per se; being stretched andstimulated intellectually are much more important. There are also, of course,those who simply do no want to give any more than they are already giving anddo not see work as the main outlet for the release of their potential. Suchviews should be appreciated and, provided the team member is performing his/herjob to the required standard, no attempts made to ‘force’ any extra potentialfrom them. By communicating benefits to individuals effectively, by listening to theirneeds and wants and by being open about the consequent benefits to theorganisation as a whole, managers should be able to encourage people toundertake the processes that do release their full potential, creating a “win-win”situation for everyone. Additionally, a working environment should be provided which encourages andsupports knowledge sharing through coaching and mentoring schemes, and whichprovides thanks and recognition for a job well done. In this way employeesshould be more motivated to give closer to 100 per cent of their potential totheir employer – or at least have had the opportunity to do so. Jan Bailey Marketing manager, The Leadership Trust Public sector joins in the war for talentThe pipeline for talent is perhaps the most vital issue facing employers inthe current climate regardless of sector or type. Here we are, five years onfrom when McKinsey’s War for Talent hit desks across the HR community and manyof us still don’t have the answers to fill the skills gaps that will drive UKplc in to the future. I totally support the fact that the Employers Organisation has produced a‘Guide to Workforce Planning in Local Authorities’ (news, 16 September). Theneed to help assess ‘how many employees are and will be needed and to ensuresufficient and appropriate training and development is provided’ in the publicsector is no longer an issue for bluechips alone. The war for talent isn’t confined to the public sector. In the interimarena, rates have risen by 15-20 per cent in the past 12 months and in thepermanent sector, salaries for senior roles often equate to those expected byHR directors in the private sector. Good people see the public sector and local government as a good careermove, but candidates who may have cut it in an investment bank still need to bethe right ‘fit’ for an utterly different culture. Organisations need to rely onsuppliers who can create a pipeline for talent, thinking strategically andsupporting HR departments and candidates in identifying the skills they need toflourish in the future. Jane Robson Joint managing director, Courtenay HR The inter-personal e-learning paradox Your article ‘E-learning Curve’ (22 July) highlighted the challenge ofachieving e-learning success. Nowhere is this more of a challenge than in the area of achievingprofessional and management skills. It is broadly accepted that e-learning, with the appropriate support andcustomisation, can achieve satisfactory results for knowledge, procedural andlower level technical subject areas. However, the case is not so clear whereinterpersonal skills are concerned. Paradoxically, surveys show the lack of interpersonal skills in ourworkforce is the single most significant limiting factor on corporate success. Experience shows that it is only when we combine e-learning with humancontact and communication, and appropriately structured opportunities topractice skills learned via e-learning, that real performance leaps in creatingwinning relationships can take place. Just half a day of intense, customised,classroom training will enable learners to reinforce and practice newtechniques learned in e-learning modules. As a result of this small but significant investment, learner motivationwill be greatly enhanced and they will gain the vital ability to apply newskills. For HR and training departments, this means an increased uptake ine-learning materials and a better-skilled workforce but perhaps mostsignificantly, a sure fire way of realising the benefits from the e-learninginvestment. Brian Sutton Chief educator, QA The men in white coats are waiting Terry Lunn filled me with dismay and concern (Letters, 19 August). Hislittle rant seems incompatible with his membership of the professional body forpeople he refers to as ‘unsavoury HR accomplices’. I see he is an independent consultant – many might hope he is not holdinghis breath waiting for new business, because few potential clients will beat apath to his door when they see what he thinks of corporations and HR people.Some also might feel he ought worry more about the men in white coats, ratherthan fixate on his obsession about black bags. Roger Loughney HR director, Corporate details supplied Read the smallprint or prepare to pay up Over a long period I was forced to buy an HR product (originally about £400which, with negotiation was reduced to £200) by a company that was constantlyabusive and harassing over the phone and by letter. My only fault was that I did not return the trial document within thecompany’s designated timescale. There are definitely some sharp practitioners and practices out there (News,5 August). You need to read the small print especially if they are lesser knownsuppliers. On the other hand, people like Croners appreciate the busy lives we lead anda phone call is all that is needed to extend a product trail. That sort ofunderstanding is invaluable to people like myself who hardly have time to readthe post let alone review a new product. Sue Smith HR director, Bowlplex plc Skills divide at the top is breachable I was not at all taken aback to see that research released this month foundthat just one in five senior managers throughout FTSE100 companies have atechnical background, whereas 90 per cent of chief executives are degreeeducated. At a time when boardroom diversity is under the spotlight, particularlyfollowing the publication of the Higgs Report (News, 5 August), this surveyhighlights the great extent of the skills divide at the top. This should come as no surprise to HR practitioners, who for decades havebeen considered secondary to other disciplines when it comes to boardpromotion. While the situation has improved to a great extent in recent years, thevalue that a strategically focused HR practitioner can add to a business hasyet to be realised by many senior management teams. Given that technology andpeople form the backbone of almost every organisation, it does confound thatsuch little emphasis is placed upon their management at the highest level. Itappears short-sighted and stagnant that British business has failed totransform the make-up of management in accordance with changing businessprocesses. Some may argue that technically-minded professionals and HR practitioners donot have the skills necessary to ascend to the board. However, while there is aneed for an understanding of the intricacies of the corporate world, of equalimportance is the sheer wealth of knowledge and ability to manage complexprocesses and issues that they bring. Certainly, I wouldn’t suggest that all management professionals besuperceded by IT and HR specialists, but in light of the present imbalancechange does need to occur. Balance sheets, profit and loss and financial reporting are essential to thecontinuation of a business, but equally important are the people that make ithappen. Ian Sharland Managing director, LogicaCMG Enterprise Services Wear their’s a spell cheque the CVs err… In his article on writing a perfect CV cover letter (Careerwise, 16September) Scott Beagrie quite rightly advises readers not to rely on their ownproof-reading abilities, but to involve a friend or colleague. From experience, I would add another warning: don’t rely on your computer’sspell checker to correct things for you. I’ve seen too many applications which include correctly-spelled words – butthey are the wrong words! For example, ‘there’ and ‘their’ are both spelledcorrectly, but they are not interchangeable – spell- check with great caution. Tim Wells Senior analyst, Nationwide Building Society last_img read more