People Power: Increasing skills are important piece of competence
By Robert Milligan
Last month we concluded that competence comes from skill and self-confidence, and that encouragement and positive feedback are two keys to increasing self-confidence. This month we focus on developing the “skill” component of competence.
In a narrow view, the skill levels of employees increase through training and experience. But let’s take a broader view.
Think about an NFL quarterback. Through training, each quarterback works to improve his skills. But it doesn’t end there. Coaches help quarterbacks prepare for the next game by reviewing game film from the last one, identifying areas to be improve. But it still doesn’t end there. A quarterback learns more about himself, his team and teammates, the league and even about the world around him.
What does this have to do with your employees? All dairy business employees should be provided these same three components of continuing skill development:
1) continuing personal development
2) redirection feedback
3) skills training
Continuing personal development
Many companies – but too few few dairy farms – provide employees money or opportunities for learning of any form. Research and experience show more informed, higher-skilled employees perform at a higher level. Helping with continued personal development also sends a message that the employer cares about his or her employees.
Chick-fil-A is often cited as a successful company and a great place to work. Mark Miller, vice president of training and development, said Chick-fil-A strives to create a culture where employees grow in five ways:
1) knowledge of oneself.
2) knowledge of others.
3) knowledge of the employing business.
4) knowledge of the industry.
5) knowledge and skills for job responsibilities.
Providing the first four types of growth need not be expensive. A crucial component of the knowledge of oneself and others is self-awareness. You can enhance the self-awareness of your employees by a) talking about your own unique characteristics, strengths and weaknesses; b) pointing to their unique characteristics and strengths when providing positive feedback; c) explaining responsibility and tasks based on strengths and capabilities; and d) basing each individual’s team responsibilities on their strengths and capabilities.
There is a huge emphasis today to communicate with o consumers. Why not start with your employees? Increased farm and industry knowledge will enable them to better contribute to – and be better ambassadors for – your business. Your employees represent your farm as much as you do.
It is unlikely you have game film to help your employees improve. You do, however, have your observations and ideas on how they can improve. Failing to share those ideas and observation with employees is like a football team not using game film to improve.
Study after study, not to mention common sense, suggests employees rarely fail to meet desired outcomes intentionally. We must view unacceptable performance as an opportunity for redirection feedback to increase skills, and meet the desired outcome in the future.
The two components of competence – skill and self-confidence – are also interrelated. Greater skill leads to greater self-confidence; greater self-confidence increases the speed of skill learning.
• Robert Milligan is senior consultant with Dairy Strategies LLC, and Professor Emeritus, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University. To contact Milligan or subscribe to his e-newsletter LearningEdge Monthly, email firstname.lastname@example.org.