Tapping into staff abilities crucial for success, says consultancy

07 August 2014 -


Firms must ensure that workers’ skills and capabilities are aligned with a company’s overall goals and objectives, according to supply-chain experts

Jermaine Haughton

Failure to effectively harness staff capabilities is one of the main reasons why many firms struggle to meet their strategic objectives, according to leading supply-chain consultancy Crimson & Co. While general investment in staff is crucial for maintaining a company’s long-term future, argues senior executive Liz Howatt, it is also incredibly important that new and existing staff possess skills that align with overall objectives.

“Most organisations will carry job descriptions for new and existing staff, outlining where their responsibilities lie within the business,” she said. “While these can be incredibly detailed, they often fail to address the most basic business functions – tapping into the business objectives and how they can be achieved.”

Howatt explained: “To maximise staff capabilities, organisations need to move away from standardised job descriptors, which define what a person needs to do in their day-to-day role. Instead, the focus must be on identifying the skills and people capabilities required to complete a task that ultimately feeds into the overall business strategy.”

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) recently warned that UK firms were facing a management crisis, as firms come under increasing pressure to meet short-term profits at the expense of long-term stability and success. The wider problem here is shortcomings in staff investment – particularly relating to how managers are not being given the opportunity to take risks or be innovative – resulting in a failure to breed long-term managers.

Howatt stressed that CMI’s research should be an eye-opener that prompts bosses to focus more on how the attributes and ambitions of staff can push their organisations forward. In her view, having a competent system that grooms the right candidate – one with the required skills to fulfil a company’s key duties – can make all the difference in the effort to produce future industry leaders.

“The report from CMI raises some interesting notions about how British businesses ultimately manage and invest in staff,” Howatt said. “Clearly, concerns exist surrounding the long-term capabilities of future managers, if the emphasis is solely on short-term gains – leading to wider questions as to how effectively employees are used within an organisation.”

She added: “People are often described as the greatest assets to a business, and in order to turn organisational goals into results, a business needs effective people in place. Despite this, how much do businesses really know about the capabilities of its staff and whether they are being utilised to their maximum in order to achieve business goals?”

An obvious way for managers to actively make sure they are getting the most out of their workers is by creating development plans that identify and nurture workplace skills.

“Tailoring this to an individual business clearly identifies the skillset needed by a particular individual to complete a particular task,” Howatt advised. “The focal point of this being that the role performed is directly linked to achieving the business strategy of that organisation.”

She concluded: “Key to ensuring this is instilling development plans, which enhance skillsets and staff capabilities. By building development plans you can then ensure effective people are in place to turn business strategy into reality – an essential quality for driving the managers of tomorrow.”

Further information on Crimson & Co.

For more on the issues raised in this article, check out the details on this forthcoming CMI Mentoring and Coaching Workshop, scheduled to take place in London on 20 October.

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