Capacity building is defined as a planned development of or increase in the knowledge, personal abilities, work output, management skills and other capabilities of oneself or an organization through acquisition of data, time management, incentives, technology and training. It is a continuous process of development in which the individuals, organizations and societies enhance their abilities to meet the demands of competition and growth. This is partially accomplished by providing the candidates with proper resources, training and knowledge. The key to complete capacity building is through community and social interaction of the team or oneself on a global level for personal motivation and building of confidence.
Definitions of capacity building
The Scottish Government’s definition of capacity building is:
“Measures that strengthen the collective ability of a community enabling individuals, groups and communities to develop the confidence, understanding and skills required to influence decision making and service delivery. This could include enabling communities to provide and manage services to meet community needs.”
A more appropriate definition of capacity building is:
“Development work that strengthens the ability of community, individuals, organisations and groups to build their structures, systems, people and skills so they are better able to define and achieve their objectives and engage in consultation and planning, manage community projects and take part in partnerships and community enterprises. It includes aspects of training, organisational and personal development and resource building, organised and planned in a self-conscious manner, reflecting the principles of empowerment and equality.”
Need and importance of capacity building
In this period of incessant advancement in economy, technology and what not, it is of utmost importance for any business organization to match up with the speed of growth of the market and competitors to sustain otherwise they will lag behind, seriously affecting productivity and profits. For this purpose, it is important for capacity building through workplace training to keep the organization updated of latest commencements. There are certain points where capacity building finds its importance.
- To bring about long term bigger and longer lasting change: it is imperative that for bringing a bigger long lasting change, training should be provided for proper capacity building so that the employees can give their best, making a greater impact. Capacity building enhances the workmanship to such a level that the output is marked by a long term and an impactful change. It is not just a low level labour, the effect of which fades away soon, but an advancement of the skills which leads to a bigger and better result of the efficient work that each employee puts efforts in.
- To create an opportunity for uniqueness: One of the greatest challenges in today’s competitive markets is innovation; and capacity building is one thing that is extremely necessary to ensure that the unique ideas are build up effectively in the workplace so that each organization manages to match up with the statuses of its competitors in terms of profits and overall benefit of its employees or customers.
- to enhance productivity: productivity of people working in an organization is effectively increased by capacity building through training programs which are specifically designed for the purpose to motivate each individual and fill in confidence that would allow them to work better in workplace and life.
- To meet the need for innovation: in this world of technology and innovation, everyone needs to rush ahead of others. Our daily lives use unique ideas every minute and new ideas are continuously needed to make lives much easier. Capacity building challenges the organizations in such a way that the benchmark of perfection, innovation and productivity gets higher every second and the world gets innovative products to make life better.
- To apply organization’s resources in a productive way: capacity building is an opportunity for the organization to produce and use skilled and knowledgeable people to create even more efficient lot out of the employees. The resources of the organization can be used in an effective way to enhance the productivity of the workers positively though building capacity and proper workmanship.
Elements of capacity building
There are three major elements of capacity building which emphasize on the importance of building correct relationships and enhance productivity of an individual and an organization in a workplace.
- Partnership: this element describes the initiative to add partnerships and resources for capacity building which would help in the purpose to promote empowerment of each individual in an organization that would lead to maximize work potential and increase productivity through innovation and management.
- Organizational development: the building of capacity would finally lead to organizational development on the whole by maximizing profits and stakes. It would also help the organization to possess a leading position in the market amongst its competitors.
- Civil society strengthening: strengthening skills and building capacity of an organization in the area of strategic planning, advocacy, project development and management finally leads to the empowerment of the society and the country on the whole. It contributes to the global progress of the country and the civil society in terms of economy, technology, innovation and quality of life.
Areas of capacity development
For capacity building of an organization, each and every workplace has a department specifically assigned to prepare its employees for maximum productivity. For some organizations managers are simply hired to do so. In very small ones, the human resource people are assigned the task of capacity development of the workers whenever the need for the same arises. We can say that workplace training plays a key role for capacity building of the staff in an organization and without it; both workers and managers won’t be able to face the day to day challenges coming in their way. The ultimate effects always falls on the organization which is why capacity building is important. There are three major types of capacity building trainings which could be employed in an organization.
- In-house training
In house workplace training is all about learning from the staff and seniors of the organization itself. It offers the perks of familiarity, comfort and friendliness between trainees and trainers since the teachers are none other than the experienced managers and senior employees of the same organization itself. They effectively conduct training sessions for their junior staff to accustom them with all the problems, solutions, technology, resources and practices to be followed in the workplace so that they become familiar with the environment of their organization and are comfortable enough to give maximum productivity.
- Outsourced training
There are several professional training organizations which are meant for the sole purpose of being outsourced for capacity building in workplaces. They are called to conduct the training sessions which would help the employees in an organization for development of skill set. These services mostly run by charging a service fee. On the basis of the results of these outsourced training programs, a group of efficient people sorted out of the recruits are appointed for the managerial staff and others are given positions based on their qualifications and skills.
- Special workplace training
Such training are planned when an organization feels need to train its workers in a specific field. After computerization of the workplace, every organization wants to train all its staff members in handling and operating the latest software to run its digital affairs without any problem. So a special training course is devised through the training manager of the organization. Depending upon the availability of the expertise some or whole of the training is outsourced to a professional trainer. Here the entire syllabus of the training is developed by the organization itself to fulfil its own training needs.
Ways of capacity building
Capacity building exercises are employed on routine basis by many organizations. As mentioned earlier, they can either be done in the organization or outsourced or both depending upon the needs. There are certain areas which need to be focussed to build capacity and skills in a productive way which would promote innovation and development. These points need to be kept in mind by the individuals undergoing training as well as by the trainers.
- The organization knows the best:the people who are most aware and knowledgeable about the company’s need and requirements are those who run the company itself. These include the managers, employers and senior employees of an organization and these are the people who decide when and how to develop abilities and skills of the employees. They understand the needs of the organization on the whole and direct the capacity building exercises in the requisite manner.
- Relationship and communication:Capacity building has been a two-way street that requires frequent, open, and honest communication. It is important to trust the organization and the trainers so that a strong and comfortable relationship can be built between the employers and the employees. This makes the base of best trainings and most productive capacity building exercises which lead to a long term increase in productivity and profits.
- Follow different approaches:There is no single approach to capacity building that will work in every organization. Rather, each organization has different situations and different needs that need to be specifically addressed and uniquely met.
- Start and end in self-assessment:it is important for the organizations to know where they lag behind and what their weak points are so that they can focus on those in the first place. Individuals and companies should have adequate knowledge of their needs, requirements and areas of improvements after which they should work towards fulfilling them. After capacity is built, an assessment needs to be done in order to understand if the training is actually troubleshooting old problems. Also the after training assessment is used to identify any loop holes or new problems that might be arising so as to fill in the gaps in understanding.
- Know your limitations and choose your battles:the end goal of capacity building is to maximize value added services and productivity which would be impossible to achieve without knowing your limitations. Analysing your limitations helps and organization chose appropriate resources and tactics to fight and improve capacity building exercises by choosing a most feasible path to train its employees.
- Self-respect, self-confidence, self-reliance
The definition of “development” that quoted from Mwalimu Julius Nyerere is as follows: “a process which enables human beings to realise their potential, build self confidence, and lead lives of dignity and fulfilment. It is a process which frees people from the fear of want and exploitation….”
Capacity building is a form of development which involves removing the limitations and moving forward by learning something new and productive and at the same time, improving the quality of the organization by troubleshooting the shortcomings. However, it is important for the employees to accept the new change with an open mind in order to fully learn and acknowledge the development of the skill set. It needs the individual to be strong and confidant enough to accept the new skills while keeping a sense of self respect and reliance.
7. Building conceptual research and analytical skills
This is one of the most important part of capacity building because the whole purpose of capacity building exercises is to accustom the employees with the concepts of working and make them develop the analytical thought process which helps in maximizing the productivity. Having the practical knowledge of execution is very important for any project but having the knowledge of analysis and conceptualization is even more vital. Without research and analytics, no practical skills can be built. Without prior conceptualization, no execution of the plans can be done properly.
Hence, it is of utmost importance that the organization puts resources and technology in building the analytical skills of the employees so that the advanced step of execution of the concepts becomes easier and precise. This rules out any chances of mistakes in practical approach to the skills and maximizes productivity.
- Knowledge, information and experience
Much of our educational system is based on “the bucket” principle. You fill the bucket with “information.” But true knowledge comes through putting to question all received knowledge because “knowledge” is not neutral. It is an embodiment of existing cultural practices (even prejudices) and power structures.
An important part of capacity building is to learn from the experiences. The employees should be made aware about the past experiences so that they get knowledgeable about the problems that can arise in the way and come up with the solutions. This makes them cautious enough to avoid the mistakes made in past and make new experiences to share with others.
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Next in importance, for successful income generating projects are the resources with which to engage in productive activity. For this, every company needs two major resources. One the human resources which could be more valuable than money or anything money can buy. The senior employees, employers, managers and human resources team is responsible to maximize the capacity of the individuals by more than 50% by employing great ideas, experiences, skill sets and techniques for building the right skills in the employees.
The second one is the technological resources or the monetary resources such as land, buildings, machines, outsourced techniques for capacity building. This is also an important part for building skill sets because solid assets and technological resources are needed to support the program of maximizing the learning process especially in certain fields such as manufacturing and science.
10. Lobbying skills
Lobbying(alsolobby) is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. It is an important skill that every individual should learn in life for himself/herself or as a part of the organization. This is the skill that makes you get your work done most of the time. People with lobbying skills are one of the most successful people because the organization relies on them to get their jobs done.
Lobbying skills are just another version of persuasion and communication. To build such skills a special training for communication, soft skills are required which include understanding others and reading people’s minds so that it becomes easier to turn them in your favour. In today’s world, people are especially paid high amounts for their lobbying skills and their proficiency in persuasion and negotiation. Though the ethics of lobbying are dual edged, but it is clear that every individual at some point of life becomes a lobbyist and the one who knows it best takes away the piece of cake.
The first idea that comes to mind when thinking about capacity is the old saying “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime”. Capacity building aims to apply this saying to the individuals and organizations, by focusing less on providing one-time resources and more on encouragement of ability for organizations to do new things for a lifetime. It is an important point to focus on when aiming for productivity, development, excelling in completion, economic and social welfare. Many ways are employed by organizations for capacity building and it is important to understand that these exercises are a vital part to the road leading to success.
Part A-Analytical questions
- How does capacity development help in civil society strengthening?
- What importance do you think learning lobbying skills hold for the development of an organization?
- How does technology play a part in building capacity in organizations while and after capacity building training sessions?
- Which one do you think is a better option for capacity building – in house capacity building or outsourced capacity building? Discuss pros and cons of each.
- What role does communication skills play in capacity building?
Part B-Direct questions
- Define capacity building and describe its importance.
- What are the three elements of capacity building?
- Describe the role of self assessment in capacity building.
- How can you enhance the capacity of an organization by in house training?
- What qualities should an individual possess to accept the enhancing skill set during a capacity building exercise?
Part C-Extra material
- Capacity building used in government organizations: http://www.pepfar.gov/documents/organization/197182.pdf
- Capacity building initiatives: http://www.psc.gov.nl.ca/psc/rwp/capacitybuilding.html
- Why capacity building is important, an example of outsourced capacity building and how it works
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