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Ian Ferguson: Do Not Leave Employee Performance To Chance

Every progressive business establishes improving worker performance as a primary goal. Greater productivity and efficiency results in increased profit and market share; it’s that simple. When workers are not learning or improving, and are not motivated and committed to their assignment, the objectives, targets and business suffers.

Employers across the world have been lamenting that employees seem challenged in consistently meeting business demands. Employers repeatedly report they have difficulty finding workers with the skills needed for today’s jobs, particularly those in areas such as technology.

We must ask why we are so challenged, and how we can begin to address these concerns in the workplace. Here are some thoughts:

1. Learning gaps

Some of the issues facing employers seem to stem from skills deficiencies in the school system and, by extension, colleges and universities. Somehow an employee with a degree in Computer Information Systems today still has so much learning to do when they take an information technology job in the “real world”. Bridging content and methods used in high school and colleges with what is being experienced in the workplace must become the goal of industry. The transition from knowledge to application is crucial if the college-educated are to experience success and be seen as valuable players.

2. Lack of training in the workplace

In-house training programmes across the Bahamian corporate landscape are extremely low in number. Employers expect employees to have the skills required to perform. Research has indicated that companies with solid hard and soft skills programmes outperform those that lack them. Sometimes, the failure of the team and individual employee to perform is really the failure of the company to invest in training initiatives.

3. No reinforcement of skills

It is often a poor learning environment that is responsible for the lack of skills on the team. If the company’s culture for learning is poor, and there are no opportunities for enhancing skills, employees will under-perform. The regular work assignments for each employee should prove sufficiently challenging that they result in periodic growth spurts. Mundane, routine and non-intellectually stimulating tasks lead to boredom and disengagement.

4. Poor assessment processes

Perhaps the greatest tragedy in the workplace is a system that allows an employee who fails regularly at their work assignment to perfect that failure. Far too many employees live in perpetual disillusionment thinking they are more than they really are. The new normal seems to be to promote the average and give the below average a pass. A raising of the standards must occur in the performance management systems we employ at work. A failure of management to objectively and systematically evaluate employees has resulted in a weak and limping workforce.

• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at iferguson@bahamas.com.

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