The world is changing fast, and employees must change with it.
Many will argue that it is not necessary to keep ones qualifications up to date because real experience in the workplace fills the gap, and many topics that are studied at school are too theoretical. However, the world is changing very fast, and unless your employees continuously keep up to date with the latest developments in their professions, they may not come up with the most effective solutions for the problems of your business. One would be horrified to discover a doctor using out-of-date techniques, and the same applies to management or any other profession.
Continuous professional development
If your employees belong to a professional chamber, they may be required to maintain their competence through mandatory continuous professional development. This allows the chamber to confirm that their members have passed a rigorous examination some time ago, and that they still have skills that are relevant for business today. However, not all employees are members of professional chambers, and not all chambers strictly enforce or monitor these criteria for all their members.
The solution to this problem is for employers to provide opportunities for continuous development for their employees. The difficulty often lies in deciding what an employee needs to develop and to keep up-to-date. Technical training is invaluable, but other skills such as languages, management and communications techniques should also not be ignored. In today's world, it is not enough to be technically competent to run a business. Being able to motivate your staff, to manage projects and to coordinate the various interested parties requires more than knowing the latest developments in your area of specialisation.
Staff appraisal tool
The most common tool for identifying the training needs of employees is frequent staff appraisals to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and then sending them on a training course to eliminate those weaknesses or enhance the strengths.
Sadly, the appraisal systems of many companies are bureaucratic, form-filling exercises to which management and employees pay lip-service; little support is actually given to employees to fulfil their potential. The final result of an appraisal may be a nominal pay rise and a congratulatory pat on the back, but managers will often be too afraid to tell the employee clearly that they have a weakness, so there is no perceived need to try to overcome that weakness. This typical appraisal error helps no one: The employer will not make full use of his employees, and the employees will not progress in their careers.
For everyone's benefit, it is important to be firm with employees during their appraisals and to follow up with action plans to make sure that employees are developed to meet their full potential.