Enhancing Human Resources Competitiveness Using Skill Charting Methods

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper is about performance improvement attained through the application of skill charting methods. The methods are applicable in a broad variety of training and education situations where improvements are desired among employees. Improved performance translates directly to greater organizational competitiveness. Several positive changes are noted that support the efficacy of the skill charting approaches.

INTRODUCTION

In order to attract and retain customers, leverage individual and organizational learning, and to remain competitive in one's market it is vitally important for employees in organizations to perform at high levels over time. Employee competence and skill are extremely important matters today in view of the general shortage of talent and the mobility of employees with talent. Worrall and Cooper (2001) report on issues of skill development of managers and competitiveness from studies they completed in the UK on quality of work life (Worrall and Cooper, 1997, 1998). Two factors emerged as being perceived by company CEO's to have the greatest impact on the competitiveness of the region and these were, in priority order: improving managerial skills in businesses, and improving the training and development of the workforce.

Related to skills, competence and competitiveness is the emphasis by many firms on the use of balanced scorecards and performance scorecards in the human resources areas (Cedar Group, 2003; Chang and Morgan, 2000). At this time, much attention is given to the areas of performance measurement and management. Directly and indirectly, competitiveness is at the core of these areas. The literature on performance improvement is growing rapidly and is exemplified by the work of Kaplan and Norton (1996), Lev (2001), and Neely (2002).

In this paper, the ideas of Gilbert (1996) are used to guide definitions of competence and skill. Competence is some performance (doing) that results in valuable accomplishment. Achieving valuable accomplishment while reducing the costs (e.g., money, time, effort) of performance represents an increase in competence. Clearly, the competitive meaning of competence is hereby reflected. Competence is derived from accomplishment. We can measure the performance of managers, technicians, customer service representatives and basketball referees and the performance measurement can be done reliably and with precision given that relevant participants agree on terms, rules, and practices. These definitions and assertions are supported in the literature of assessment of skills and competencies (Allen, 2000).

Skill is the application of some behavior that has some discriminations of mastery, for example, quality and/or quantity. Like competence it has relativistic referents. Virtually every task or job may be performed more or less skillfully depending on effects achieved, time used, and resources applied. Both competence and skill are qualitative terms.

ASSISTING EMPLOYEES TO CHANGE AND IMPROVE PERFORMANCE

The specific training methods and tools explained in this paper are grounded on the basic concepts of a social constructivist approach to employee learning and change. A constructivist approach is an active one in which the employees are constructing new knowledge over a foundation of prior or previous learning. Much important construction takes place in our interactions with others. Drath and Paulus (1994) put it succinctly, "... and people make meaning socially--they construct their experience together so they can communicate and cooperate and agree about what is happening. They can interpret, anticipate, and plan together" (p. 3).

A social constructivist approach to employee learning creates the expectation that there are many ways in which to improve performance of a particular skill. There is not necessarily one best way (Jonassen, 1991). There are multiple representations of reality. …

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