Readers might recall the recent debates between Mr E.B. John and myself on migrant workers and the sub-optimal work ethic, commitment, skills and related deficits among local counterparts. Such banter is happily reminiscent of the serious debates on societal and management issues we used to have in the halcyon days of our entry into the exciting world of Personnel & Industrial Relations. I know that he is as disappointed as I am with the apparent indifference shown by current HR practitioners in that there has not been any rejoinder from them or other colleagues in the management/labour relations field.
Some people abhor the term ‘paradigm shift’, but whether you like it or not, we are in the midst of one. We are smack in the middle of one school of thought which views people as ‘assets’ for development versus the other which sees them as ‘costs’ to be cut.
Those days when employers took a longer-term view of employees, careers and the economic landscape are now giving way to shorter term expectations which view the work to be done less in terms of careers and more as ‘jobs’ and ‘tasks’. The days when the bigger firm was the better employer have been replaced by the mantra of “down-sizing” or euphemistically “right-sizing” the organization and desperate searches for ‘how to do more with less (people)’.
It is foolhardy for little Guyana to swim against the tide, nay the tsunami, sweeping across the globe.
In such contexts workers must be increasingly self-reliant by engaging in serious self-development. Happily, the advent of IT and with it the initiatives and opportunities for programmes of self-study have been proliferating. Of course interventions by enlightened employers/organizations/leaders are always welcome but to sit back and await such initiatives by others is tantamount to laziness and akin to irresponsibility. In this regard, the age-old Succession Planning formula favoured by Mr John must be applied, if at all, with great caution: too many of these end up as documents that promise a lot but deliver too little in terms of the time, effort and emotions expended in their laborious crafting.
HR practitioners must eschew any attempts to mollycoddle; instead, serious mentoring of employees to assume responsibility for their own development must be the norm. Training and development must focus not only on hard skills and competences but equally, if not more so, on attitudes and behavioral aspects of employment.