Monday, 22 February 2016

Does training quality really matter?

Staring down the barrel

Implementation of substantially increased compliance criteria has exposed many in Supply Chain Management organisations to the risk of ruinous B-BBEE Scorecard downgrades. Training is however not necessarily the silver bullet solution. 

What’s the difference?

Since Skills Development is a substantial pillar of the B-BBEE Scorecard (yielding a potential 25 points) it could be argued that each organisation should simply be purchasing as much of those training products which yield the highest Scorecard points as possible.

Could the enrolment of targeted employees on this type of training be an unproductive waste of money?

Consider -
Recent research carried out on a South African 3rd Party Logistics Provider showed that there is no correlation between what supervisors believe to be the competence levels of their team members, what those same team members perceive of their own competence levels and what those competence levels actually are in terms of a battery of objective assessments. There is no reason to suppose that this is any different for any other company in this industry - we don’t know what we don’t know as far as competency levels in our companies are concerned.

Many training products on offer address the needs of industry as it currently exists. A striking feature of Supply Chain Management is the staggering rate and magnitude of change in this field. This “new normal” challenges the competence requirements of organisations on almost a daily basis.

A common approach to training on the part of organisations and providers is to throw learners over the classroom and/or eLearning wall into the workflow in the hope that what they learnt will magically transfer to successful job performance. It doesn’t.

So, whilst we and the Government want to believe that meeting B-BBEE Scorecard Skills Development targets will transform our company, our industry and the country, this will not happen.

The Business Case

Whilst there is no doubt that B-BBEE Scorecard compliance is a ticket to the game as far as doing business in South Africa is concerned, such compliance needs to be structured in such a way as to meet the needs of the business.

So what are business needs?

A recurring theme in Barloworld Logistics’ supplychainforesight over a number of years has been that a lack of relevant skills has been a major constraint to business survival and expansion. There is thus strong correlation between the needs of business and B-BBEE Scorecard targets.

To answer the business case however, a more refined approach is suggested and these are the questions which need to be answered -

Do we know our current competency status? Is each job in the company defined in accordance with a competency profile? Do we have an objective tool to measure each employee against the competency profile of their job and thus identify the competency gaps which must be addressed to meet the organisation’s current competency needs?

Our company strategy - have we unpacked the competency requirements? In other words, do we know what competencies we are going to need in order to achieve our future goals?

If we know this, are we able to define what each area of competency actually means to us in terms of the knowledge, skills and attitude which will be needed to meet these requirements?

In order to begin this journey we need to develop an “exit strategy” for each current job -  a clear picture of the industry trends and technological developments which will transform that particular job and how each individual needs to be equipped to meet those changes.

This strategy will be achieved when everyone in the organisation is performing effectively in their jobs at every changing moment of need. That’s organisational competency.  It should be the driving reason why we do all we do what we do. By achieving this, B-BBEE Scorecard Skills Development compliance becomes an intended consequence, not a strategic objective.

Points to ponder
  • Are we training for competitiveness or for B-BBEE compliance?
  • Is our company’s skills development policy aligned to our long term strategy?
  • Have we defined each job in terms of a competency profile?
  • Do we have the tools to objectively measure the gap between the competency requirements of each job and the actual competency of each job incumbent?
  • Do we know how the structure and responsibilities of each job must change in order to meet future customer needs?

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