Firms must ensure that workers’ skills and capabilities are aligned with a company’s overall goals and objectives, says Liz Howat Head of scprime® at leading supply-chain consultancy firm Crimson and Co.

Failure to effectively harness staff abilities is one of the main reasons why many firms struggle to meet their strategic objectives, states Liz. While general investment in staff is crucial for maintaining a company’s long-term future,  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,’ Liz says. ‘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.

‘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’, Liz says.

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.

‘The report from CMI raises some interesting notions about how British businesses ultimately manage and invest in staff,’ Liz says. ‘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.’

Liz 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.


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Chartered Management Institute

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