Invest in employees’ development

Competitiveness requires an organisation to put employees first and develop quality training programmes.

employees development

PUBLISHED reports by the IMF, World Bank and OECD have been of consistent view that the global economy is in the midst of a decade-long slow growth environment characterised by an imminent productivity growth crisis.

Regrettably, the growth outlook for 2017 shows a continuation of this trend globally. The looming labour shortage and skill deficiencies in Singapore will add further challenges to economic prospect.

Businesses have to prepare for more disruptions from geopolitical tensions, policy uncertainty, financial market volatility and rapid changes in technology, but they also need to stay focused on leveraging the qualitative sources of growth with investment in technology and business productivity even in turbulent times.

There will be a need to further develop the relevant leadership competencies and skills to deal with this brave new world which is increasingly more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA).

For some, it is probably a case of learning how to put them into practice in a new context. As we move into 2017, let’s take a look at what we need to do differently or to enhance our existing leadership and talent management practices:

Self-leadership development

It is evident that conventional leadership development practices are no longer adequate.

You will need to develop the nextgen leadership competencies – including cognitive readiness skills set such as metacognition (monitoring and managing emotional and mental processes), sense-making (connecting the dots) and attentional control (mindfulness) – in order to meet the challenges in leading your team and organisation to success.

These broader leadership skillset will equip you to think and act globally in a VUCA business environment. You must do so while embracing cross-cultural diversity and cultivating collaborative relationships within and outside your industry. These are the hallmarks of the mindset needed to develop effective global leaders to compete successfully in the new world.

Employees first

Steady, long-term competitiveness requires an organisation to be committed to putting employees first and developing quality training programmes linked to its strategic objectives.

Without true commitment to employees regardless of their levels, the journey to enhance organisational performance will be an elusive adventure. Quality employees equate to organisational success. Unqualified and poorly-trained employees equate to organisational failure.

Employees make the difference between a truly successful organisation and a mediocre entity, but it’s amazing how often managers overlook or discount this fundamental recipe for economic survival.

Organisations with cultures that focus on their people and invest in their future will, in the long-run, be more competitive than cultures that view employees as mere costs to be reduced in times of trouble.

Develop coaching culture

Introducing coaching competencies into an organisation is a very powerful strategy to create an adaptive workplace culture committed to development and learning.

Companies that have developed a coaching culture report significantly reduced staff turnover, increased productivity, and greater happiness and satisfaction at work.

Leaders who coach their teams through change, rather than issuing directives, encourage employees to take control of their workload and targets. This helps create advocates of change who feel that they have a say in the direction of the organisation – particularly important when they might be feeling out of control of their future when operating in a VUCA world.

Research has consistently shown that developing a coaching culture helps organisations achieve their strategic objectives as well as enhance their business outcomes.

Find new routes to success

This new and different environment is challenging leaders to find new ways to lead their organisations and achieve sustained success.

The recommended business and leadership practices stated earlier could be viewed as drivers for development of high-performance organisations.

To succeed in this new world, focusing on the development of organisational and people capabilities, that drive financial and operational performance, will enable companies to execute their strategy more effectively towards achieving sustainable organisational results.

This in turn would enable leaders to navigate challenging times, a quickening pace of change, increasing expectations and a rising tide of rapidly-evolving conditions.


Published by Business Times on 14 Feb 2017

The writer is the CEO of Centre for Executive Education.

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