Professional development: Key to a company's sustainability

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June 09, 2017

The professional development of a company's employees is essential to its efficiency and productivity. With professional development, employees become more confident performing their various tasks and do so with a sense of commitment; loving what they do and respecting the organization's culture.
When managers are exposed to professional development programs, they develop a more informed perspective, become more caring and people-centered, and are eager to formulate new strategies enabling the company not only to realize its objectives, but to exceed them.
I was intrigued while having a look at the Disney Institute's professional development course topics in the Harvard Business Review, which, it says, help to deliver sustained business results. Three of these courses are mentioned. The first deals with leadership excellence. According to the program, leadership is about taking actions leading to positive transformations in a company.
It notes that leaders who intentionally nurture mutual trust and respect, strengthen employee performance, deliver customer service that is exceptional and consistently drive business results. It goes on to say that a leader's personal values help to sustain the vision of the organization.
I support the idea that professional development enables the company to consistently realize its purpose, contributes to productivity, and that leadership excellence is critical to achieving this through the activities it generates, resulting in fundamental corporate changes which impact the company positively. To me, leadership competence spurs the organization into action, creates employee enthusiasm, and bolsters the desire to want to achieve the goals of the enterprise.
However, all this rests on the fostering of interpersonal trust and respect, which enhance organizational performance, as the Disney Institute states. I further agree that the values held by a leader cement the philosophy of the organization, but would add that they also are a reference point for the behaviours expected of the organization towards both its internal and external customers, which boosts competitiveness.
But is leadership really about what the Disney Institute says it is, and do leaders really do the things it mentions? We have to realize that "leaders" and "leadership" are mere concepts that are imposed on management activities to capture and describe particular behaviours. We can mischaracterize an action and therefore inaccurately describe it.
Also, can we really say that behaviours in a company can be sustained, when they are affected by external and internal developments, causing persons to react differently at different times? What happens to sustainability here? And is not the idea of sustaining the vision, while on the surface could be a desirable thing, could cause "idea stagnation" rather than the constant renewal of strategies, and stall a revisiting of the mission?
Another course topic deals with employee engagement. The Disney Institute speaks of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts having a rich tradition built on creating experiences that are memorable, and of working consistently to attract, develop, and retain employees dedicated to upholding its original vision. And adds that to ensure employees deliver exceptional experiences, an organization must intentionally design its internal processes to reinforce the desired culture.
The Institute therefore helps participants to re-imagine their own workplace culture by sharing insights about how focusing strategically on selection, training, communication and genuine care can lead to sustained levels of employee engagement.
I believe that these elements, mentioned under employee engagement, are critical to professional development and sustainability in the way a successful company does its business. Creating memorable experiences for customers, including internal customers, and attracting, developing, and retaining employees committed to the company's vision, contribute to employees and patrons feeling integrated with the company and its values.
When employees know they have a stake in the enterprise, and that professional development is firmly stressed, they become more productive, use their time to create new innovations, and their experiences are further enriched. They then become more emotionally enrolled in the company and seek to promote its culture through their actions. Creativity then becomes a natural part of how they perform. And creativity is a prerequisite to sustainability.
I certainly agree that designing how things are done internally in an organization to reinforce the preferred culture ensures employees deliver exceptional experiences. A company's culture is the bedrock on which everything rests and determines how activities are conducted. It makes a difference in how the organization relates to its clients and enriches the organization's image. It is also the culture of the organization that is its ultimate sustaining factor.
And when the Disney Institute enables course participants to re-imagine their workplace culture through discussion, interaction, and idea sharing, it means a high level of engagement by employees, who are able to provide authentic experiences, and so bring new insights into how their enterprise can be more competitive and relevant to new innovations and changes.
The Disney Institute then mentions quality service as a further ingredient in its professional development courses. It says that excellent service is a result of truly understanding customers' expectations, and putting the right structures in place to exceed them, and with a common purpose and quality standards, employees can be empowered to perform, since they are equipped with the right tools, and have clear service expectations. And with positive team feedback, they feel valued and appreciated. The Institute then notes that the power of service lies in the ability to create an emotional and rational connection, which impacts economic outcomes.
I share the Disney Institute's perspective on quality service. When the expectations of customers are gauged and appreciated, delivery can be targeted and desires met, based on benchmarks that are given. It is also my view that when employees and customers' expectations are ascertained, the basis of effective customer service is laid. And employee satisfaction and sustained productivity are guaranteed.
Furthermore, I agree that when a bond develops between employees and customers, competitiveness is assured. This is because all barriers are broken down, employees feel special, and customers become more loyal and appreciative of the service they receive.
These three aspects of the Disney Institute's professional development courses, to me, define what responsible, effective, training and development are all about. And are at the core of, and central to, both professional and organizational development. Organizations and personnel of all types of enterprises can benefit from them intellectually, skills-wise and professionally. Together these programs are the cultural anchor grounding organizations in their vision, and provide the smarts to realize it.

Oliver Mills is a former lecturer in education at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. He holds an M.Ed degree. from Dalhousie University in Canada, an MA from the University of London and a post-graduate diploma in HRM and Training, University of Leicester. He is a past Permanent Secretary in Education with the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Published with the permission of Caribbean news Now.

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News date : 06/09/2017    Category : Opinion, Nassau Guardian Stories

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