Executives and Middle Managers Play Vital Role in Employee Development

By Ketter, Paula | The Public Manager, Fall 2012 | Go to article overview

Executives and Middle Managers Play Vital Role in Employee Development


Ketter, Paula, The Public Manager


When you examine workplace learning, there is no clear-cut definition on what that means or how to implement it, but one thing is for sure: in today's highly competitive business environment, employee safety, engagement, skills development, and knowledge transfer all play a critical role in the success of workplaces and organizations.

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As we see in the articles in this forum, it is not just the responsibility of learning and human resources professionals to manage employee development. Leaders--including managers and supervisors--are playing a more vital role in the engagement, skills training, and day-to-day development of their employees. Managing department knowledge and their employees' competencies are becoming critical skills for executives and middle managers.

Knowledge Management

With the impending talent exodus of Baby Boomers, the need to capture their knowledge before it walks out the door is essential for a smooth transition to new leadership. As Holly C. Baxter writes in her article, "One of the biggest challenges for all organizations was that they did not have a way to formally capture tacit knowledge and experience from workers and leaders. In some cases, this was due to stovepipes and silos, but in most cases, it was due to simply not knowing how to tap into the intellectual capital of those with the most expertise."

Baxter gives tips on how to identify knowledge gaps, how to make changes through a coordinated set of initiatives, and how to use the new technologies available to help leaders create the human and technical infrastructure to help staff learn, share, connect, and conceptualize knowledge through collaboration.

Safety Training

When most people think of employee learning, they envision a program or initiative that teaches safety and upgrades employee skills. The article by Alison Gjefle and Valine Vikari highlights how the Department of Energy's Emergency Support Function created an online learning solution to help employees stay current on regulations and practice new processes and procedures. Instead of sending 90 people from 14 offices nationwide to a three-day classroom training session, learners logged into a learning module--one that included case studies, scenario-based knowledge checks, and quizzes--on their own time, and then participated in simulation to practice their skills.

"Knowledge acquisition alone--whether classroom-based on online--doesn't equal the power of an activity in which learners are required to synthesize and incorporate knowledge, and apply it. …

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Executives and Middle Managers Play Vital Role in Employee Development
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