Author: Henri Azibert
Of the myriad of activities that need to be completed in any industrial setting, none of them are ever single faceted or straightforward. There seems to always be a complexity in what needs to be done, completed, or achieved. And this complexity is exponentially more problematic when human beings are involved. Human resources are often overlooked, taken for granted or commoditized, yet the most precious capital any enterprise can possibly avail itself of is the cooperation of a creative human mind.
Going to the market place is a familiar enough concept. Make a list of what you are looking for and then go out to get it. Whether it is machinery, services, even knowledge, the process is straightforward. Put out a bid and secure the most cost-effective offerings. Seems simple enough. However, when it comes to workers, nuances can get overwhelming. It can be difficult to reduce persons to categories or types. Education, background, and experiences are all so different. And then, how to differentiate from the actual, the self-inflation, and the hype!
In any enterprise, the cooperation of a multitude of workers is required. Of all the required activities, the inescapable variety calls for widely different experience. From sales to engineering, from machinist to planner, for procurement to marketing, the necessary skills and disposition are different. Finding the right person is a major challenge.
Although it would be tempting to equate workers to a commodity, the reality is much more challenging. The straightforward approach of “If this is not the right person to do the job, then let’s just go out and get the right one”, is not as easy to implement as it is to affirm.
And even when a reasonably good match is achieved, problems do not mysteriously or necessarily evaporate. Does the person have the required knowledge, temperament or abilities? Does the worker have the desire and yearning to do what is required? And the real question is whether the worker has the passion to do the job. When there is passion to do what needs to be done, then it is no longer work, it is fun and enjoyable.
That is what is key to a productive and satisfied employee. That is what is key to a successful and thriving enterprise.
Managing humans can be interesting or frustrating, all at the same time. From the resource pool, there are wide abilities. The requirement is to match the need to the resource. And that is the challenge.
Forcing people to do what they detest can be a waste of time and a source of frustration for management and the individual involved. In this respect, Personal Improvement Plans rarely work. They might make the manager feel more empowered, emboldened and powerful, and the human resource department may feel productive, but in many cases, they are useless and destructive. The only solution is to either find something else for the worker to do or get another worker to do the work.
However, this does not and should never apply to training and knowledge acquisition. Knowledge can be acquired. Skills can be taught. Education can be provided. Basic interest or disposition are the characteristics that are not likely to change.
The more someone is interested in learning, the more value will be obtained for and from that person. And that is from a number of perspectives. Besides the obvious result that the worker will be more effective at his/her tasks or ready to take on more challenging work, worker retention remains a major issue in modern times. For someone to be in a degree program, or just earning various PDUs will be a reason to remain where they are employed and not seek other employment opportunities. In industrial settings, the more knowledge you have, the more valuable you are in your specialized and particular field. This in terms limits the options that are available outside the firm where you are employed. And even more importantly, the more knowledge you have, the more productive you can be, and this is in itself the best reward for any individual.
Choose the right person, allow them to grow and to acquire knowledge. It is beneficial to the person and the organization. When it comes to human beings, nothing is ever simple or straightforward, except training and learning.