The knowledge worker phenomena

largeTeamMore people than ever before earn their living by thinking. It generally considered an endorsement when a person is described as “knowledgeable”. It tends to mean that the person is well-informed about a situation or subject and worthy of trust.

Is knowledge overrated?

Research shows that Continue reading

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Training solutions. Again

technical competencyThere are many “training” solutions that have been announced during the current retrenchment exercise.  Some of these announcements seem to be “soothers” designed to comfort those who ask about the plight of those found without jobs or skills. There is a published account of a terminated worker, when told to sign up for training, said; “I don’t want training. I can’t buy bread with that”.

This is an example of why I am called to caution against falling into the “training trap”. This occurs when training is being applied for cosmetic or justification purposes. For instance, there are many funding agencies and private sector organizations that require a specific number of training hours be provided to a specific set of people, covering prescribed topics. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) “the world’s largest professional association dedicated to the training and development field”, has a motto saying: “Telling ain’t training”. This is important because the majority of events characterized as training, feature covering the information as the primary approach. This has been proven to be a waste of time, money and morale.

In the past few years, Barbados’ TVET Council has recognized this discrepancy and introduced its Competency-based Training approach in conjunction with Barbados Community College. This is primarily because of pressure to “prove that workers are competent to do their jobs”. Forty-eight National and Regional Vocational Qualification (NVQ/CVQ) have been validated, with curricula to “demonstrate the knowledge, skills and attitudes are certified as competent.” I hold a certificate in this programme.

Clearly, this is important work and represents progress from previous approaches. It reinforces the need for demonstrable skills and the fact that working toward standards increases employability. The Inter-American Bank has founded TVET’s “Skills for the Future” programme, which can be credited with producing 15 medallists in The Barbados WorldSkills 2014 competition. TVET and its programmes have the participation of Barbados’ colleges, BIMAP and supports the Barbados Human Resources Development Strategy.

TVET also administers the Training and Employment Fund (ETF). “ETF’s primary focus is to provide grants to encourage the private sector to expand and upgrade its employee training programmes.” This funds are extracted from employer contributions to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). I also have first-hand experience working with clients who have accessed ETF and have provided training under its terms of reference.  The fund has trained 37,411 since March 1997.

With due respect for these efforts and accomplishments, there is still much needed to obtain traction and sustainability. The ASTD Competencies for Training and Development Professionals and its Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) certification, represent global best practice. Barbados can benefit greatly from using these as benchmarks.

For example, approved trainers for ETF programmes must be vetted by the Barbados Accreditation Council, who certainly aren’t equipped to measure according to global standards and best practice. When you look at the training approaches of government agencies, academic institutions and public purveyors of training; competency in these essential areas is not apparent. TVET’s own mandate is compromised by the fact that its criteria for employer participation preclude the training of an organization’s executives and managers to support the skills that have been taught. “You can’t take one piano lesson and play Carnegie Hall”.

If skills are not nurtured and supported, they will become extinct.

God bless.

Some thoughts about performance

performanceFree association is a technique that I frequently use when teaching about communications. In an exercise, I ask members of a diverse group to write down, without censorship, everything that comes to mind when they see or hear a particular word. Today, that word is Continue reading

Authentic Leadership

dollar sign keyAt times when we are deciding about key investments, each of us instinctively wants to be assured that the object of our investment is the “real deal”. The bigger the investment the greater the concern about authenticity. Most definitions of “authentic” include: genuine, undisputed origin, worthy of trust, verified, accurate and reliable. As these elements are verifiably present, our conviction to act is Continue reading

We can do it!

we can make itUnited States President, Barack Obama is well-known as an inspirational speaker and leader. His State of the Union message, delivered on January 28th, received global media coverage. The consensus is that this was another inspirational tour de force, not just for Americans but many others who have been undergoing hard times.

It doesn’t matter that there are differences about the policies, programmes and political agenda; at one point or another, your heart was stirred Continue reading

The high cost of patronage

barbados map flagThis time last year there was heavy public debate around the competing promises of parties vying to be elected. This year, the discussions are even more intense around a failing economy and how to fix it; quickly.

There is an age old adage: “to the victor goes the spoils” and six years ago, there were blatant statements of dividing up the “fatted calf”. The traditional methods of patronage have been in the creation and awarding of jobs. Certainly the previous government engaged in patronage and after three terms, the electorate decided to correct the imbalance. However, it has not turned out to be a ‘correction” but Continue reading

The ultimate marketing strategy

barbadosIt’s that season again. The time when the air is filled with discussions related to tourism. These include the concessions granted to Sandals, the partial reopening of Almond Resort, projections on the trend in visitor arrivals, the likelihood of the Four Seasons revival and how our tourism marketing approach needs to change.

I am particularly intrigued by the Continue reading

The Barbados Brand

Barbados brandI regularly participate in online discussions.  I prefer these to call-in programmes for the introduction of ideas and issues for fruitful discourse. I have decided to contextually integrate some of the issues that fit this column.

Senator John Watson has a Facebook group called FB Senate that I find informative and stimulating. I commend Senator Watson for this approach to public dialogue and consultation. This article flows from a suggestion that we should be working toward establishing a “made in Barbados” identity as a preference among Barbadian consumers and in the global market. Branding is a hot marketing buzzword that in many instances, is heavily skewed to a product orientation. Continue reading

A Matter of Age and Stage

assessmentRecently, I completed a psychometric assessment to review the current state of my talent and motivation in areas vital to business success. These areas are: Thought, Influence, Adaptability and Delivery. The last time I was assessed on the same instrument three years ago, my responses and scores were significantly different. As I discussed these differences during a feedback session, it became apparent that my perspective was heavily shaped by the circumstances of my life and my practice at the time of assessment. Continue reading

Bring Your A Game

Basketball shotThis phrase has such widespread use that there is at least one movie with it as the title. Typically, it is applied as a challenge or as encouragement. The implication is that you would heighten your focus and tightly manage known inhibitors of your best performance. The context is usually when things are being tightly contested, with a lot at stake. The movies: “Tap” and “Bring Your A Game”, give some exciting examples of how this concept plays out.

If you are a teammate, it means, “no foolishness”; Continue reading