Much of the focus of this column has been on HR practice as far as the corporate and legislative perspective is concerned, so today I wanted to address the third component in the employment relationship – the employee.
Inspired by our looming Independence Day to reflect on what it really means to be independent, I thought we could look at some of the assumptions underlying career development together. Oh ok wait, what does career development have to do with independence? The literal interpretation of independent is self-governing, which might be harder to link to career development unless you appreciate that being adequately skilled means you are free to explore the labour market you operate in, offering your services based on the assessed mutual benefit of any employment arrangement you enter into (as opposed to being forced to take whatever is available), but even if you think that independent in professional terms means objective and unbiased, you can see how engaging in career developing activities can only make you better at your work.
Having said that then, the assumption when some of these HR programs are designed and offered to staff is that there is interest amongst the colleagues to grow professionally – including in those personal skills that help professional engagement. The assumption is usually inspired by market research and industry best practice, and it is informed by the various surveys done by the HR office, whether we’re talking outright staff surveys or training needs analysis based on the performance appraisals, or workforce analysis, or any other credible source of information. Interest in professional growth? Yes, HR practitioners assume that staff would welcome opportunities to develop and grow their competency profiles, not just to position for higher salaries but to cultivate the level of agility and professional maturity that would maintain employability, whether within the company or in the open market.
And sometimes the reception that staff give these opportunities confirms the assumption. Like I just said, the benefits are not just about potential salary increase (some employers pay for qualifications, a practice which I personally disagree with because there is a difference between qualifications and delivery) but in the case of employees who keep up with their CPD requirements, they know how much better equipped they are as professionals in their fields, how much more confident
But what about those colleagues who are slow to embrace these opportunities? Those who say they see no point in CPD because they haven’t experienced corresponding salary increases nor have they been promoted in recognition of new qualifications. On a very personal and selfish level, the skills and certifications you gain through these trainings are embedded in you, they enrich your CV, and you take them wherever you go, and in some instances you would not have been able to access these because of affordability or eligibility. Simply put, the courses are either very expensive or the only reason you were admitted is because of your employer’s brand. Sometimes the resistance stems from a level of defensiveness that you feel when you are told where you need to improve. I don’t know if that would be a consequence of your toxic working environment where there is mistrust and all its attendant symptoms, or if that is from your own insecurities, but if you find it difficult to embrace opportunities because you have a blind spot to your development needs, you could maybe consider getting yourself a self-assessment.
The self-assessment would be the first step in your own career planning process. You’ll get insights into your strengths, growth areas, likes, values, interests and other details that would help you define your way forward, especially with regards to your ideal working environment and other factors that lead to your job satisfaction. Get to know who you are (and what you need to succeed) on your own initiative and let your employer help you along the way to your professional growth and maturity. And independence. Nothing to lose.
Please note that comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Every effort is made to respond to individuals, and mail received is treated as confidential. Please note however that in cases of specific work-related grievances and disputes submitted, Shameela Winston will not pronounce opinions nor prescribe remedies. Thank you.