When I first began working as a freelance consultant, I had some very firm ideas about what my business would be. I knew exactly the type of customers I wanted to work with and more importantly what it was I was not going to do. That pretty much seemed to fly in the face of the advice that I’d been given which was, to put it bluntly, never say no to anything.
With a quick reset of my mapped-out ideas I decided to stride proudly onward saying yes to opportunities that came my way and focused on not being quite so rigid and set in my ways in the future. The good news was that I managed to grow my customer base, learn new skills and get involved in activities I wouldn’t have anticipated before.
For me this has looked like taking the skills I use to create development solutions and breaking them apart into new service offerings. These are things such as editing video and audio for eLearning and providing the associated narration. For a while I’d seen these as skills that I could only utilise for learning and development purposes. However, as I write this, I am aware that a few thousand people have now heard my voice (or at least the professional voiceover version) narrating a games of the year video on YouTube and apparently, I am the voice of an animated cartoon somewhere in the Netherlands. I haven’t seen the finished product, but the script was very good!
With more requests of a similar nature now being received, a new section has been added to the equally new website. It’s called it “Pick and Mix” and is where customers are able to view the individual services on offer that have previously made up a full development solution.
So far, this blog has served more to advertise a cartoon that I’ve not seen than make a link to the working world. To make amends for this, please carry on reading, I’m about to get to my main point now.
Throughout my career I have worked with stakeholders to design multi-skilling workshops. Here we’ve looked at the type of development sessions that have broadened the skill set of the individual and benefited the organisation through increasing the overall resource available across a variety of areas. More often than not I have seen activities such as these put in place only when individuals are deemed worthy of being “cross-skilled”. The opportunity to learn more skills has been used as a carrot to encourage people to deliver more so that they can in turn, erm, deliver more….that doesn’t seem quite right does it?
To make sure that we are getting the most from our people we should be turning the conversation around and asking our people questions such as “what motivates you” or “what do you want to achieve in your career”. There can be an element of fear present here in that by giving individuals a choice, organisations may lose some of the resource it would otherwise have had access to. In reality, asking the question can drive higher levels of engagement that will push an employee to deliver higher levels of performance.
So how can you find what development solution is right for them?
The obvious starting point is as I’ve already mentioned, just ask the question! However, you may then want to go a step further and see if they are actually the right fit for the role / development opportunity that they have requested. Things you can do to decide if they are right for the career development route they have chosen are:
- Review performance in their current role and map out what skills make them successful, which of these are transferable and how will they benefit personally and what will the business impact be?
- Do they have any skills or interests outside of work that could be developed in the business? You never know, your new graphic designer might currently be taking calls in the contact centre.
- What are the gaps you’re trying to address in your business? What specialisms do you really need? Remember developing people just for the sake of it will lead to a reduction in interest and actual ability from the employee if they’re unable to actually put their new skills into practice.
Just as I discovered voicing gaming videos and cartoons, the skills an individual has can have much further reaching impacts than what we have already pigeonholed them to do. Be brave, offer development that people want and you’ll never look back.
That’s enough for this ramble, I have an audition to complete don’t you know. This week it’s more YouTube work, but next week that call from Pixar might just come through! Encourage people to aim high and they might just surprise you.