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Creative minds

As the recession intensifies in our island, some individuals tend to place more and more blame on employees regarding the poor performance of the organisation.

Only recently a media report suggested that employees with post graduate qualifications were not the most competent employees and hence needed more work experience. Oddly enough this piece of advice was delivered to employers (Human Resource Practitioners) by a consultant in that field. It appears to me that this advice lacks rigor at several levels namely the individual, the organisation and the national level.

At the personal level, the individual is seeking to gain competitive advantage in an economic market where unemployment is high and jobs opportunities are at an all time low. Therefore, it is almost impossible to gain the much needed work experience suggested by the individual.

Furthermore, we all know that young people seem to lack the motivation to work hard and wait until they gain more knowledge before attaining a promotion. They seem to have what one of my colleagues described as “the apps attitude” where they think that they will obtain everything now like a click on a tablet.

I know you are probably asking the question: How come? Well we as parents must share some blame. We all encourage our off spring to work hard at school and achieve the highest level of education (BSc & MSc) if possible. With this encouragement, we convey the impression that they will get the job of their dreams (“nuff money”). Not once did we suggest that it often takes long hours and several years before this is achieved.

Then came the recession and with it a “water shed” about the way things should be done. This meant that in order to get a dream job, a young person must be creative and think “outside the box”.

This presents a problem because our culture does not allow such creative thinking. Actually, in some instances the organisation may punish a young employee for being creative and instead rewards him or her for playing “follow the leader” even if “the herd is rushing towards the cliff”.

At the organisation level, managers must endeavour to be more open to new experiences instead of participating in forums that criticise employees especially in the glaring absence of even one suggestion on how to fix the problem.

We all know that it is hard to take a step backward and critically reflect on our behaviour especially while being observed by others. This is because we may find some imperfections and very few people can accept that form of scrutiny. However, this economic climate is screaming for change and imagination, so it is imperative that we take a closer look at ourselves and stop playing the “blame game”.

Organisations must therefore create an environment that enables employees to be creative. So what if several young people have master degrees and they still do not know enough when they enter the workplace. They are policies and procedures that, if implemented correctly, will separate potentially high-quality employees from the possibly poor performers.

For instance, the recruitment and selection processes must be used to attract and select the most suitable workers. Yes I know that this process can be challenging. This is why experts have suggested that if organisations allow this process to work as it should, then we would not find ourselves with employees with master degrees that are under-performing.

Moreover, the aim of the recruitment and selection process is to engage in a variety of activities that enable human resource managers to identify the most promising applicants, mainly those with the “best organisation fit” (image and aptitude).

The problem comes when the firm is reluctant to adopt any new selection activities but instead relies on the old adage “I can tell by looking that Jim/Mary will make a good employee”.

Another old technique is relying on the interview process alone and then making use of practices like “he/she looks and talks like me/us” therefore we will hire them. These archaic strategies can no longer be used to identify the right worker for the job.

It must be noted here that qualifications alone should not be the ultimate determinant for a job either. The individual’s personality must also play an important part in the selection process.

Furthermore, there is the human resource function of training and development where training programmes can be created to meet the needs of employees (new recruits or long standing employees). Here again, if this process is utilised correctly the employee can be moulded into an individual who will assist the organisation in achieving its goals.

I believe that instead of placing blame or criticism on non-performing employees management should utilise training and development approaches. According to some management specialists (Niazi, 2011, Journal of Public Administration & Governance) the business environment has gone through a process of rapid changes.

As a result, the pressure is on management to keep ahead (or in some cases keep up) with the competition. One way of doing this, is by using creative and innovative training and development strategies to ensure that employees are equipped to facilitate the organisation in achieving it goals.

Finally, at the national level the global financial crisis has caused a considerable decrease in the economy of most developed and developing countries. This has impacted on tourist arrivals in most tourism-oriented countries.

Consequently, Barbados is experiencing slow economic growth since the country depends on tourism as it main source of foreign exchange. Given this situation, the foreign reserves are at risk and with little or few exports; the government is facing the issue of high youth unemployment.

With increasing unemployment, some young people are choosing to seek advanced education as a means of preparing themselves for employment when the situation changes. Since there are no available jobs to be used as a training ground, when a student graduates from university, this is a viable option.

It is therefore commendable that enterprising young people are seeking to further their education rather than join the band of unemployed.

I believe that if the organisation utilises effective recruitment and selection processes together with developing and implementing creative training and development programmes, the employee regardless of their qualifications will be an asset to the organisation.

We must stop this criticising and tearing down of others and instead, seek to educate the youth and elucidate the type of behaviour that young people could model instead of seeking to leave a legacy of condemnation behind when we are gone. Until next time…

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