Training and development are two of the most widely used tools used for improving the existing skill set of employees in an organization. The basic requirement for all the employee development measures is a skill audit which gives the human resource managers a clear cut idea about what is needed in the training efforts for short term improvement in the skills of employees and what are the areas where the employees need to have attention in order to polish their abilities to fill the positions arising in the organization in long term. Only as a result of a comprehensive and effective skill audit, the training and development efforts can be more focused and effective to actually improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of the employees. This report is based on the description and importance of the basic pre requisite of training and development and lays emphasis on the fact that how a well performed skill audit can help in meeting the long term strategic goals of the organization. In addition to describing the importance of skill audit as a means to achieve organizational success and effectiveness, the professional development plans made as a result of the skill audit also contribute to the success of an individual worker. Improving one's skill set leads to his/her own development and opens the doors to many other opportunities. The importance and instrumentality of training and development efforts as a tool for career development is also a part of this report. In order to elaborate the role of techniques used for skill audit, some techniques are described which can be useful for the skill audit of workers. The last part of the report provides a SWOT analysis of the employee before and after attending a training and development program and how it fits with the organizational strategy. As the report requires the use of a real world job as the author discusses various issues related to skills audit and training and development, the job of a lecturer is selected for the purpose.
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2.0 Skills Audit
A skill audit is the process whereby various training and development needs of individuals in an organization are identified. As a result of this audit, various training and development programs are designed for the employees in order to make them perform better on the current job and to prepare them for the future jobs. Another use of skill audit is to compare the existing skill set of employees with what is expected from them when they hold a certain position and to evaluate how much progress has been made since a particular training or course was attended. In this section, the skill audit is performed for the post of a lecturer. There are two types of audits described; the first part is according to the leadership and management requirements of the organization (which in this case is an educational institute) and the other part is related to the job role, i-e, teaching.
2.1 Skill Audit for Effective Leadership and Management
Out of all the skills required from managers, no matter at which level they are working, conceptual skills are the ones which are required at the leadership levels. If one analyzes the role and place of lecturers in an organizational hierarchy, they serve as first line managers as they interact with the actual product of the organization, the students. In order to perform the leadership and management functions well at all the organizational levels, conceptual skills are the first and foremost requirement so that the manager can foresee the future of the organization and may provide the direction to the non managerial staff.
The skills required from a lecturer to be an effective part of management and to prove himself/herself as an effective leader for his students include strong interpersonal skills and conceptual skills (Kayode, 2001). When coming to the underlying skills in these two basic skill sets, the interpersonal and conceptual skills can be divided in to a number of other skills which the human resource managers can actually strive to create in their employees.
The conceptual skills which are needed for effective leadership and management include a sound knowledge of organizational vision and mission do that the manager can plan and carry out all the assigned duties with an aim to meet the organizational vision and mission. The second skill is the ability to see the bog picture and to forecast the condition which will be prevailing in future. Once a manager develops the ability to see through the events, only then he/she can make and implement strategies and plans to achieve the organizational purposes in terms of vision and mission (Olaniyan and Ojo, 2008). In case of a lecturer, he/she should be able to foresee the scope and requirement of contents of a course so that he/she may design the learning content which helps to equip the students with all the necessary skills required for applying the theoretical knowledge to the actual professional positions in the job world. This requires the lecturer to be in continuous contact with the external environment so that he/she gets a clear picture how the requirements of today's employers are changing and to identify the measures which the management of the institute should take to stay in coherence with the external environment.
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The interpersonal skills are considered as one of the most crucial skills for all those who have to perform the leadership roles in an organization. In the head of interpersonal skills, communication skills are one major area needs to be considered in all the training and development efforts. In addition to the communication skills, negotiation skills and conflict management constitute the second most important skill set needed for the leaders to perform day to day functions and to manage the change in environment.
2.2 Skill Audit for the Job Role
In addition to the skills required for effectively managing and leading in an organization, there are certain skills which are required in order to perform the job role in any organization. Usually these skills are termed as technical skills and refer to the actual job related knowledge possessed by an employee. In the above described example of a lecturer, the technical skills required to perform a job are described in this section of the report where the next section focuses on the techniques used to perform the skill audit so that the skills required for a particular role are identified effectively.
When it comes to perform the actual job, there is still another set of skills which is required form all the employees so that they may perform their duties well. In case of a lecturer, the communication skills stay at the top of the list as these skills act as a medium of transfer of knowledge from the teacher to the learner (Oguntimehin, 2001). Secondly, the research skills are the skills which enable a teacher to continuously update his/her knowledge. As most of the educational institutions keep taking such measures which emphasize the research skills among the lecturers, this skill needs to be improved from time to time especially when promotions are to be made to the next level of teaching positions. As the assistant professors and professors take an active part in guiding students about their research work, research skills play an important role in how teachers play their role in shaping future of their students. The third type of skill set which is needed for a lecturer to perform his/her duties effectively is named as mentoring and coaching skills. This broad category of skills includes negotiation skills, counseling skills and all what it takes to win trust from students so that they can communicate effectively in classroom settings. In addition to all these, analysis skills are also important for the day to day tasks and duties of a lecturer. These skills play an important role in assessing students' work and assignments and helps in awarding grades and marks on the basis of the performance of the pupil in a certain course.
3.0 Contribution of Skills
The skill audit helps to indentify the skills which the human resources of an organization possess (Oribabor, 2000). These skills play an important role in determining the organizational as well as individual performance of employees. This section presents the role of the skills identified in the previous section as they contribute in achieving organizational and personal goals.
3.1 Contribution of Skills to Strategic Organizational Goals
As discussed in the previous section, the conceptual skills are the skills which are needed at the managerial levels to meet the strategic goals of an organization. All these skills are required to meet long term objectives of an organization. Where strategy leads to achieving the long term benefits on the basis of organizational strengths, it is also a means of protecting the organization from threats in external environment due to organizational weaknesses. The conceptual skills play an important role in identifying the organizational strengths and weaknesses and devising strategy accordingly.
The communication skills, conflict management skills and negotiation skills in category of conceptual skills and research skills, coaching and mentoring skills and analysis skills in the category of technical skills make a lecturer a part of an educational organization where he can contribute to the success of organization. Where one set of skills, the conceptual skills, contributes to the success of the organization in long term, the technical skills contribute to the success of business in short run by generating word of mouth and producing well equipped students who have the capability of applying the theoretical knowledge to the actual job world.
3.2 Contribution of Skills in Personal Development
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Where the skill set of any employee helps an organization to achieve its goals and objectives in both long and short run, they help the employees in their personal development too. Where acquiring knowledge can help boosting organizational performance, it helps employees in making advancements in their career. The skills acquired at any stage in professional life lead to a lifelong asset which can contribute not only to more successful career advancements, but also helps in personal development.
Continuous professional development is one such concept which describes how the skills, knowledge and abilities during one stage of an employee's career lead him to a path of personal sustainable competitive advantage. The use of knowledge, skills and abilities lead to increases productivity at workplace and increases the chances of rewards such as benefits, increased pay in pay for performance systems and may lead to promotions to higher positions in organizational hierarchy. Another advantage of having participated in professional training and development activities is the upgrading of skills in the organization's human resource information system. Once an organization is performing the process of succession planning, the upgraded knowledge, skills and abilities lead to better chances of promotions.
All the above mentioned benefits of training and development can be achieved through the use of a reality based skill audit to assess the employees' needs in terms of skills as required by their job as it may lead to designing an effective training and development program (Arikewuyo, 1999). The next section of the report provides an insight into the tools and techniques which can be used in order to perform an effective and useful skill audit.
4.0 Techniques to Assess Professional Skills Required for Strategic Participation in Organization
It has been widely reported by both practitioners and scholars that conceptual skills are desired at the higher levels of organizational hierarchy to cope up with the changes in the external environment and to devise strategies accordingly. There is a consensus on the fact that organizations need to enhance the conceptual skills of employees as they promote them to top managerial positions. Given below are some of the tools and techniques which are used by the human resource managers to assess the level of conceptual skills of employees in order to check if they are fit to be promoted to higher positions.
The first technique which can help in assessing an employee's caliber of participating in strategic decision making is the performance appraisal. By reviewing the performance of an employee and his/her reactions to various situations can help in determining his/her ability to forecast future and make decisions accordingly. As strategic management is all about decision making for future, such an insight into an employee's decision making provides the human resource manager with a basis of decision of promoting the employee to a higher position.
The second tool used for evaluating an employee's strategic decision making capability is the use of workshops and management games (Abiodun, 1999). While the employees are attending a particular workshop or are offering solutions to a hypothetical problem during their training session, it is a good opportunity for a human resource manager to assess his/her strategic decision making capability.
The tools used for getting opinion about a particular employee from his superiors and subordinates also constitute an option to be considered. The use of 360 degree feedback, peer evaluations and other techniques for getting information from those who are stakeholders in decisions of a particular employee can help the manager to decide which employee suits best to the position involving strategic decision making.
5.0 Personal SWOT Analysis and Choice of Learning Methods
This section provides the information about the SWOT analysis of a lecturer before attending a workshop on teaching methodology and research and the changes in skill set after attending the workshop. The reasons are given for choosing the workshop method and the preferred learning style is also described in order to make the choice justified and as a basis of an objective decision.
The strengths (S) which are observed before participating in any kind of training and development program include high capacity for learning, more emphasis on practical application of concepts, interactive way of teaching and sting communication skills. On the other hand, the weaknesses (W) include low subject knowledge, needs improvement in analysis skills and needs to manage time effectively. Coming to the opportunities (O) available to this lecturer, the list includes chances of taking some professional development programs and moving to higher positions on the basis of the strengths. The threats (T) include a backlash from students who prefer to learn more from the lecture style method and are not participative in the classroom setting.
For this lecturer, the possible training and development plans may include attending a seminar, a workshop and a sponsored educational program (to increase the technical knowledge). Keeping in view the need of the employee and time and budgets available, it is best to start from the skill development programs in the shirt run. The workshop method is recommended for this employee as he prefers to teach and learn though interactive settings and can get better knowledge through this way.
The SWOT analysis, as performed after the lecturer has attended the workshop, reveals that the subject knowledge and time management skills of the employee have been improved and have became his strengths (S) while the only weakness (W) left is long term focus of professional development which still needs to be improved. The opportunities (O) now include the eligibility to attend a higher level professional development program and increased chances of promotion with the threat (T) of the peers having similar skill level.
1.0 Personal Development Plan for Leadership Development
Communication and interpersonal skills are two basic pillars of building and the other two are visionary skills and conflict management skills. This section explains how it has been planned to develop these four skills in order to meet organizational objectives and the next section elaborates how the acquisition of all these skills will help me in achieving personal goals.
In order to be an effective leader, the first pre requisite is to achieve excellence and fluency in communication. It does not mean that one has to learn the language only and can communicate with the coworkers and all other effectively. Effective communication means something else. It means that one eliminates all the distortion in the message communication and the receiver of the message gets the actual idea of what is being transmitted to him. In order to improve the communication skills required for leadership, attending some workshops are the most attractive option. This option is to be chosen if one has to work within certain time and budget limits. As the workshops provide an opportunity to learn through use of a number of media and tools, it has been found effective in spite of its short duration which may range from three to five days. The interactive learning and teaching experiences make it even easier for the attendees to learn a lot within a short time period. This method is particularly useful for acquiring skills in the short run and is one of the most widely used training tools.
To improve the conflict management and change management skills, where academic knowledge and theory plays an important role, it is more about the use of personal skills to solve the issues which are causing contradiction. As far as managers are concerned, in order to learn best how to resolve conflicts among humans, it is recommended to attend some seminars and coaching session on employee relations. When it comes to applying the same to the job of a lecturer, he/she should improve his/her listening skills and should create such an environment in class where the students can easily speak their mind. This suggestion, by no means, intends to give the idea that class decorum should be affected but the core purpose of stating all this is to create an environment where the communication is open and the flow is two way. In order to improve listening skills, it is better to go through some of the self help books and materials and to get help of some senior faculty member.
In addition to all the external tools and techniques used for enhancing the communication and leadership skills, it is recommended to keep a diary or log of all the routine activities so that one may learn from his/her own experiences. It may seem a little bit philosophical but this thing actually helps when it comes to dealing with situation where no external aid can teach you the solution to a specific situation. In such cases, a record of your own past behaviors and their results can provide you with the best possible and customized guidance according to the situation at hand.
2.0 Outcomes of Plan: A Comparison with Personal Work Objectives
Where the work related goal of every employee is to excel in his/her career, only a few are actually able to achieve this goal as it requires more than a wish to excel in one's career. The training and development initiatives ad taken by an employee on his/her own, or by the organization to improve skills of an employee, result in improvement of skill set, knowledge level and abilities of a worker.
Attending the effective communication workshops can help a lecturer in communicating his knowledge in a better way in the class room. Even a single change in method of lecture delivery can help in boosting the student as well as teacher achievement in terms of knowledge delivered and knowledge acquired respectively.
Streamlining a personal development plan with that of the needs and wants of the organization always helps the individuals to move across the organizational positions efficiently and effectively. A personal development plan that is focused towards gearing the employee performance leads to increased organizational effectiveness and therefore chances of the employee's career advancement are increased. Taking the case of a lecturer using books to increase his knowledge of subject help him not only in improving his skills and knowledge but also makes him a suitable candidate for more sophisticated training and development activities. Similarly, the increase in the level of knowledge, skills and abilities enables an employee to jump up in the organizational human resource inventory and the chances for future career moves are more promising.
In short, aligning the goals of personal development with the demands of existing and potential jobs in an organization makes an employee equipped with all the tools he/she needs for career development. In addition to seeking prospective career opportunities in current organization, acquiring skills and knowledge helps an employee to a great degree in switching to other organizations or other arts of the organization. The personal development goals, therefore, should be decided in such a way that needs of current and prospective employers are met by acquiring any kind of knowledge, skills and abilities. Here at this level too, one need to think strategically while planning his/her development in his/her profession. For example, if the lecturer who needs to focus on his time management and subject related knowledge, plans to go for a foreign language course, this personal development plan may prove helpful for his personal growth (as it increases his skill and abilities to speak a foreign language) but this plan has nothing to do with the organizations need where there is more need to spend time on acquiring subject related knowledge and time management skills to start and end the lecture at proper time and to divide the total course into equal parts for each of the term. Achieving the strategic fit between personal and organizational goals is the key to success for each and every employee in each and every field.
3.0 Impact of Learning against Achievement of Strategic Goals
Where the achievement of conceptual skills requires time and practice, there are associated a number of organizational outcomes with the employees' achieving these skills. Organizations and the human resource managers always try to arrange such professional training and development activities which can meet not only short term but also long term objectives of the organization. The nature of training may change from one employee to another but for the employees, who are to be promoted to higher managerial positions; all the training activities contain a strategic part too. It should be made clear at this point of discussion that training are the efforts which are carried out with the purpose of introducing the skills and knowledge in an employee which is essential for his/her performance at the work place in the short run. Sending a lecturer on a workshop and providing him with books to increase subject knowledge may train the employee but it may not necessarily develop him for long term positions like professor or associate professor.
On the other hand, development efforts are made to polish the skills, abilities and knowledge of employees so that they may participate in the strategic management process of the organization in the long run. Therefore, more or less all developmental plans are in coherence with achieving strategic organizational goals. In case of the example of the lecturer, planning for a research project and sending him/her on a fully or partially funded educational program helps in increasing the human capital of the educational institute and, therefore, is in coherence with its strategic goals.