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Ensuring and Improving Competence

December 30, 1899

 

​For starters, effective leaders must be competent. They must understand the institution, know their jobs, keep abreast of the latest information necessary to do their jobs, and know how to access the resources they need. No one starts a job knowing how to do everything well; job competence is learned.

Matching Individual Needs and Strengths to the Institutional Agenda

People are a resource, and their energy can be frittered away just as money can. Making the best use of people's interests and talents is analogous to using money or space or any other resource wisely.

Putting people in the right job

Conventional wisdom tells us about the importance of "match" in any job. People grow into and out of jobs. The most productive individuals are those who remain challenged and fully engaged. Individuals who are stuck or mismatched will inevitably operate at a lower energy level than if they were in the right job.

Maximizing people's strengths

Often, work can be structured to make the best use of an individual's strengths and minimize his or her weaknesses. Duties within a unit can be distributed so that those with quantitative strengths and those with people skills each address the kinds of work for which they are best suited. The danger of this approach is that it does not encourage people to compensate for their weaknesses or develop a different set of skills.

Growing your own

Talented people do not simply appear. Hiring from the outside has the advantage of bringing in new blood, but it is expensive and time consuming. Sometimes new employees do not fit or are not as good as expected. Grooming talent on hand is an obvious alternative that gives people room to expand their jobs or advance.

Reducing turnover

Turnover of personnel is costly. The absence of a worker lessens everyone else's effectiveness, and things tend to get put on hold until a replacement is found. The costs of recruiting and training new personnel are far greater than those of investing in the development of existing employees. Experienced workers are more productive. Studies show that it can take from one to three years to fully master a new job.

 

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