Marching Backwards into the Future

A recent post by Bersin & Associates notes, “Approximately three-quarters of employers globally cite a lack of experience, skills or knowledge as the primary reason for the difficulty filling positions. However, only one in five employers is concentrating on training and development to fill the gap. A mere 6% of employers are working more closely with educational institutions to create curriculums that close knowledge gaps.”

Doh! These same employers slashed their work forces for a total job loss of 8,700,000 jobs since the recession started in December 2007. Only 4,444,000 jobs have been added since then, which leaves a net loss of 425,6000 4,256,000 jobs.

What were they thinking? That they could slash their “most valuable asset” and when the economy picks back up, find the knowledge and skills they require? Yep—short term thinking at its best—and of course it backfired in this complicated/complex work environment.

In a prior post I wrote about the three most important words that managers in an organization must know when it comes to learning—training development, and education.

Training is learning that is provided in order to improve performance on the present job, which means it's orientated towards the present. What these employers should have been thinking is towards the future—what skills and knowledge are we going to need when the economy picks back up? Which means they should have implemented development and education processes.

Development is training people to acquire new horizons, technologies, or viewpoints. It enables leaders to guide their organizations onto new expectations by being proactive rather than reactive. It enables workers to create better products, faster services, and more competitive organizations. It is learning for growth of the individual, but not related to a specific present or future job.

Education in organizations differ from education in schools so don't let the following definition confuse you. Education is training people to do a different job. It is often given to people who have been identified as being promotable, being considered for a new job either lateral or upwards, or to increase their potential.

The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend to always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. - Marshall McLuhan

As we craft our learning processes we must remember the three most important words and ensure that our clients/customers also understand them. Failure to do so will again result in marching backwards into the future.


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