Case study 1Having joined Global Freight Consolidators as a Warehouse Receiving Clerk in 2008, Mary Mesquita became a real expert in that aspect of the company’s operations: there were very few problems that she could not solve in this area.
Her diligence and hard work as well as the respect she had built up amongst clients and colleagues had recently led to her promotion to Team Leader in the Warehouse Receiving Department.
Mary was confident that her intimate knowledge of the job would assure her success.
Problems started to arise very quickly however:
Although the people for whom Mary was responsible were doing their routine tasks well, the work was becoming less and less coordinated, with some team members processing work to others who then seemed to get stuck, inaccurate work being produced with nobody taking responsibility and a general lowering of morale. At the same time her team members were continuously soliciting her help in resolving operational problems. She found that it took a lot less time to sort out an operational problem herself than to teach the team member responsible how to do it.
In the meantime was Mary being pressurised to produce performance reports, revise budgets and attend to staff disciplinary matters.
As a result, Mary’s team’s performance was beginning to fall and she was taking increasing stress.
Case study 2
Throughout his career in international trade, it was the compliance aspects which interested Marco Pimentel the most. In the five years since he joined the industry he become highly proficient in all aspects of Customs compliance. This is a very legalistic area - it requires the ability to pay minute attention to detail and to analyse a number complex factors in order to achieve results.
Penalties for mistakes in the preparation and submission of Customs Declarations are high and the work is extremely pressurised:- those who carry out this function therefore have to produce top quality material very quickly and consistently. Due to the nature of the work however, people who excel at it tend to regard people who operate outside of the field as either stupid, intent on defrauding Customs, or both.
Marco’s superior ability in this field did not go unnoticed and in a relatively short space of time he was promoted to head up the Customs Clearance Department of a forwarding and clearing agent. In addition to the responsibility for the overall performance of the department, this position typically requires that the incumbent assists in solving of problems relating to Customs, client servicing and providing Customs technical support to all departments.
Marco soon found himself in hot water: Colleagues who turned to him for assistance had a great deal of difficulty in understanding his communications because of their convoluted and obscure terminology. Whilst acknowledging his undoubted expertise, both customers and Customs officials had difficulty in dealing with Marco’s arrogance and superior attitude.
Things came to a head on the day that the MD of Marco’s employer company received an official communication from Customs Head Office stating that Mr Pimentel was no longer welcome to have any communications with the Customs Department.
These case studies are intended to demonstrate that, whilst technical competence is key to any function, mastery of leadership as well emotional intelligence skills (so called soft skills) are equally important. By including these into our training strategies we achieve far greater potential for enhanced competitiveness.
Therefore, in determining the skills needs of our people it is essential that these areas are also addressed.
In my next post I would like to delve into this area in more detail and discuss how the organisation’s all round competency requirements can be identified.
Have you any war stories like these to share?
What has your experience been with blending technical, leadership and soft skills training?