Today’s public administrators are facing problems of unprecedented complexity in societies that are more heterogeneous and challenging than ever in the past. At the same time, the systems and tools of governance are gradually becoming more digital and networked. Consequently, the Civil servants require to keep pace with the requirement of right skills.
The extant requirement poses two challenges. The first one is to identify the skill set required for the civil services and meets the day to day requirements and prepares the employees for the future. The second is to explore the methods by which the civil services can invest in skill development to improve the public policies and services.
The identification of skills prepares the civil services for the challenges of the public service. Once that is done, making the civil servant ready for gaining these skills to facilitate public service is the next course of action. The framework of public service and the employment policies of the government are therefore driven by both quantitative factors which include numbers and cost, as well as by individual qualities, which includes skills and expertise. It is therefore imperative to understand and identify the gaps in the skill sets of the civil servants and then take actions to fill these gaps by skill development of the workforce.
As brought out, the determination of skills to meet the existing and future priorities and assessment of gaps in the workforce are the elementary steps for strategic workforce planning. While the common skill set and competency profile for the civil servants can be easily defined, mapping of the skills and identification of gaps is a major challenge. Planning for the future challenges and preparing the workforce for them through futuristic skill sets remains another challenge. Any failure to consider the future requirements in strategic workforce planning would entail having an organizational workforce unqualified and untrained for the future.
While the civil services recruitment process is merit based, it is important to maintain the skill level of the civil servants. This necessitates the senior hierarchy to ensure development of their subordinates. Development of employees is the strength of any skills strategy, particularly in civil services, which allows greater job security and low overall turnover. The employment branding strategies includes providing learning opportunities to the employees and a standardized learning culture has gained more impetus, especially in the growing speed of change and technological advancement.
Lifelong learning is critical not only for individual career advancement but also acts as an organizational strategy for modernization and coping with the changing environment. Presently, civil services training is overseen and managed by various existing institutional and structural frameworks which include training at individual, organizational and civil service levels. However, mentoring and coaching are major tools for developing others and learning day-to-day activities, which is integrated into the jobs of civil services.
Author: Commodore Saurabh Rastogi
SCOPE OF THE PAPER
This paper seeks to address the need for developing other, barriers in the process of mentoring/ coaching, leadership qualities needed to develop others and finally the process of developing others.
WHAT IS DEVELOPING OTHERS?
Developing other can be defined as ‘taking actions to teach and guide another toward learning resources, in order to broaden his or her skill set and understanding as necessary for advancement to greater levels of proficiency and/or responsibility’.
One of the most significant aspects of any organisations success is to have right set of people in the team, on boarding them and developing them. Development is best explained as a proactive and continuous process, which includes both, support and challenges. While excessive support diminishes incentives to improve and grow, too much challenge can overwhelm the employees. Waiting for a problem to occur can often lead to challenges that exceed the capacity of the individuals or the organisation to deal with them.
For a successful organisation and a good leader, developing others is just as important as developing themselves. Infact this concept is well explained in the concept of ‘Kaizen’. The concept includes a structured framework which identifies the leadership potential of the subordinates and provides them suitable leverage to learn and grow. At the same time, others who may not be on the leadership path are also provided adequate opportunities so as to become valuable to the organisation and its goal. This process is significant in the civil services in particular, wherein all the civil servants may not attain leadership positions.
In any professional setup, developing others signifies the intention of the senior hierarchy of to invest their time, effort and energy to develop others especially in terms of their professional competency. The efforts taken by the senior leadership are in terms of imparting the knowledge or sharing experience with their subordinates. These include facilitating skill development or assisting the team members in knowledge gain and its application, providing feedback to train them on correct behaviours for growth. Developing others therefore, essentially means being available to mentor or guide others by offering the leaders perspectives.
Developing others is a person-to-person art, which is primarily focussed on counselling. The effectiveness of the counselling process depends on empathy and the leader’s capability to focus on the subordinates feelings, providing his insights and perspectives and sharing them with his subordinates. Another important aspect of counselling is to develop trust between the leader and the subordinate. Incase the subordinate doesn’t trust his leader; the advice of the leader will not be accepted by the subordinate. Therefore, the leader needs to show respect, trustworthiness and empathy while developing others.
NEED FOR DEVELOPING OTHERS
Why is it important to develop others? By developing others, one can influence the future growth of the organization. The leader can also assist the employees working below him to enhance the limits of their abilities while empowering them to be more involved with the goals of the organization.
In an organizational environment, one of the primary responsibilities of a leader is to enhance the competency level of his team members. This requirement can be considered from both a leader and a team member's perspective. From a leaders growth perspective, incase the leader doesn’t develop his teams competency, then he would be forced to undertake all routine tasks himself. Such an action would overburden the leader leading to stagnation of both, the leader and the organisation. Having no suitable second eleven, may also restrict the leaders self upgradation in the organisation. From the team members perspective, the subordinate would give due regard to the senior hierarchy only if it helps the subordinates to bring put their potential. Therefore, the leader will grow only of the team grows. It is therefore imperative to develop the team.
More personally, a leader can give his team members the types of opportunities that were made available to him by his seniors which allowed him to attain the senior hierarchical positions in the organisation. One can experience the satisfaction of passing on the qualities great mentors have helped the leader himself develop.
BARRIERS FOR DEVELOPING OTHERS
Though the importance of developing others is well known, some misconceptions/ barriers prevent some people from spending time on developing others. A major impediment in developing others is the lack of understanding of the staff development process as a critical management responsibility. Lack of understanding the significance of personal development, lack of interest in the team performance excellence and a bureaucratic mentality are other barriers in the process of developing others.
A few organisations display a very narrow and excessive focus on developing only a few employees. Then there are certain organisations which over or under estimate the individual’s raw developmental ability. Few organizations assume that the structured training courses are adequate for employees development process and hence don’t engage in any informal development methods. A few organizations don’t understand the aspiration of their employees, while others take a short-cut by recruiting people with skill and experience rather than investing in developing their employees.
In addition, there are leaders who focus more on tasks than on relationships. These leaders are result oriented and are not bothered about long term development of the subordinates. Certain leaders are untrusting and therefore, don’t delegate any important task to the subordinates. Such leaders are intolerant of mistakes and apportion blame. A few leaders fail to recognise the needs of subordinates for development and others fear competition from talented subordinates. Lack of organisational mechanisms for training and development of employees and at times lack of courage to provide feedback on progress of the employees also leads to poor mentoring.
LEADERSHIP QUALITIES FOR DEVELOPING OTHERS
Any organization requires continuous flow of talent for top positions in hierarchy to sustain itself. However, actions by poor and less effective leaders who seek immediate solutions often lead to loss of talented pool of subordinates. On the other hand, effective leaders prioritise the need of their subordinates and focus on the development and grooming of their team members.
Leaders propagate knowledge down the chain with an aim to provide the subordinates with necessary skills. For doing this, the leaders need the following qualities:-
Leaders who are skilled in developing others understand the importance of developing the existing talent and its influence on the individual and organisational growth. Such leaders promote a culture of development and utilisation of improved skills. They provide a comprehensive and clear feedback on progress and guidance throughout the development process. These leaders utilise various activities and methods for employee development. They inspire employees to undertake more challenging assignments and are always exploring new developmental opportunities for team members.
As experienced and skilled members of the organization, leaders have unique understandings of how their subordinates can be more successful, both in their current job and in the future. Therefore, they are able to help their subordinates develop the requisite skills through mentoring/ coaching.
HOW TO DEVELOP OTHERS
Development of others basically includes utilisation of quality time by the senior hierarchy with its subordinates to help them to improve their professional competency and grow in life. To ensure all-inclusive growth of the organisation, it is important to develop those who are employed in that organisation. Ensuring development of all involved will result in satisfied and motivated subordinates, thereby ensuring an improved employee engagement.
All subordinates look-up to their leaders as a role model, which therefore requires the leaders to set a good example and provide their subordinates with an appropriate learning environment. Creating the right environment means creation of a personalized approach for each of the subordinate. To get an overall insight, the talent and performance of the subordinates need to be reviewed annually using a 360 degree survey. It is essential to develop a mentoring/ coaching attitude that allows the subordinates to grow and learn.
In development of others, it is essential to enhance the subordinates' confidence by increasing their efficiency and communications skills by assigning new challenges that allow the team members to apply and utilise what they learn. The subordinates are required to be provided direction and guidance to acquire necessary tools for development. The support can be provided through video assisted training, academic books and papers, workshops and seminars, mentoring and/or other developmental resources and opportunities.
The senior hierarchy needs to mentor/coach the team members continuously and assist the subordinates to formulate solutions to the problems, economise time and reduce wastages of time and resources through use of advanced techniques and efficient time management methods. The leaders need to help subordinates in setting standards, milestones and timeliness for evaluating their development progress. A periodic review of development progress is also essential.
To ensure the development of the subordinates, it is imperative to offer challenges to them to function beyond their comfort zone. The senior hierarchy needs to provide necessary encouragement, support and acknowledge progress of their subordinate. Developing managers must be assigned projects and roles which necessitate the subordinates to exercise and further develop their leadership skills. The leaders also need to allow the subordinates to experiment with their newly acquired or improved skills. They need to allow their subordinates the required leeway to learn from their mistakes as well as the achievements.
It is important to be honest with the subordinates about their potential based on their results in their existing roles. The mentor should guide the subordinates and give suggestions on individual goals based on the assessment of their most likely future employment prospects within the organization. The mentor should assist the team members to enhance their knowledge in present job profile and prepare them for undertaking various public service roles within their respective departments.
Developing others must come from ‘within’ and is a moral responsibility of all those who have climbed on the professional ladder.
Personnel training and development is an essential skill for organizational management employees at every level. The best of departments and leaders in an organisation are those who strategize to cultivate leaders among their ranks. The ability to transform average performers into highly effective subordinates and proficient decision-makers is the hallmark of astute leaders who very understandingly and methodically act to support the organisations vision/goal. Mentors/leaders who exhibit such a depth of understanding of the big picture of public service ensure comprehensive growth of all the team members and their departments/organisations.
Having to train and mentors others is inescapable for any good leader. The earlier one implements the necessary skills for these requirements in his department, the better will be the results in the long term. It is also important that the leaders transfer the skills that they have gained from their seniors to their own subordinates.
Finally, leaders who are proficient in developing others are able to recognize and reward the strengths, endeavours and accomplishments of people they mentor. They are also able to offer valuable feedback and accurately identify people’s requirements for further growth. Additionally, they are able to provide judicious mentoring and offer their subordinates jobs that challenge and nurture the skills of the subordinates.
In conclusion, development of subordinates is an unceasing process that continues for the entire lifetime of the organisation and emphasizes on a learning culture which can create multi-dimensional development opportunities. This approach creates a comprehensive, more holistic and humanized working environment which encourages learning and risk, promoting better results for the individual and organizations.