Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

When expertise becomes an enemy of quality service 5 – helping good employees with potential to become great employees 1

Posted in career development, HR and personnel, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on November 22, 2015

This is my fifth installment to a series on expertise, and on what an employee or manager needs to bring along with it, if it is to offer real value and either to themselves or to the business they work for (see my supplemental postings section at the end of Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 69 and following, for Parts 1-4.)

I focused in Part 4 on problematical behavior and on resolving immediate points of interpersonal stress and challenge between employees. My goal for this follow-up installment is to at least begin to address one of the central conundrums of Personnel policy and practice, and more specifically of how they can become effectively disconnected from each other. And my goal for this is to at least begin a discussion of how that breach might be mended. I begin with the fundamentals to set up this discussion and to help to more clearly identify this specific problem:

• Businesses need skilled employees, with solid and reliable experience and with hands-on expertise in what they are hired to do. This is essential.
• But at the same time, businesses and their hiring managers look for and need to find prospective new employees who would be a good fit for working at their organization and as a member of their team. Their more technical skills are vitally important, but who wants to work with a colleague who is so difficult to have to work with that everyone around them comes to dread the start of a next work week for having to do so?
• Most businesses come to see value in both sides to this overall set of requirements and certainly when considering a new prospective hire where they do not already feel invested in anyone under consideration yet.
• But those organizations and their managers are usually much more prepared to help a current employee to learn new professional, technical skills and to stay current with the cutting edge of their job’s technical requirements than they are to help a more technically skilled employee with weaker “soft” skills to develop their communications and interpersonal capabilities.
• And this very definitely holds true for employees with crucially needed hands-on technical skills who it would be difficult at best to replace, when they have weaker “soft, people skills.” Their failings and weaknesses are all too often simply overlooked or worked around – unless and until they become significant enough for their impact to create what could have been an avoidable crisis.

I have touched upon the issues that I have just been raising here, a number of times in the course of writing this blog. Employees who lack management skills, but who have potential and interest in that direction can often and even usually be trained for this level and type of work. But at least as importantly and with wider overall need, employees with weak interpersonal and communications skills can be helped to do better there too. And in fact this can make them more effective and more valuable to the organization and to themselves too, by making it easier for them to apply their more technical skills in ways that really matter and that would create more sustaining overall value.

I initially wrote my series: Communicating More Effectively as a Job and Career Skill Set, because I have seen so many professionals over the years who in fact have communications problems:

• In under-communicating where more would be needed,
• In over-communicating where that blocks the more essential message,
• And in miss-communicating where the wrong message is conveyed entirely, or where the right one is but in a manner that cannot work for the intended audience. (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 342-358.)

That is an area where we can all improve, just as it is always possible to refine our more technical work skills to a next level up. And this is an area where we all have to be actively engaged in our own professional development and improvement, and one where an effective Human Resources department can play an active role, and both to the benefit of the individuals who work there and to the benefit of that business as a whole.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will focus on active engagement and the importance of looking for opportunity to create value, and on facilitating that in the workplace. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 (with this included as a supplemental posting there) and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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