Dr. Antony Michail
Nov 5, 2018

Whose job is it anyway? Comments and questions on who is responsible for our career.

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Having been an academic and professional trainer for close to 20 years has made me aware of the general lack of specific competencies of professionals which one would most probably take for granted.

 

 

 

Education has become more and more accessible to individuals on a global scale while the options and methodologies as well as the type of degrees, certificates and qualifications are endless. Despite this fact, there still seems to be a lack of skills in the greater percentage of graduates and professionals that relate to teamwork, negotiations, presentation skills, time management and others.

 

Companies evaluate staff and management through a list of competencies. Therefore, education can get you the interview, a test can get you to the second stage if your personality matches the company’s values, culture and strategy while competencies will help you keep your job. Since competencies have become our security why don’t we develop them? If competencies have become THAT important, why don’t companies support their people? If competencies and skills have become our passport, why don’t we focus on these in school?

 

Are schools responsible? Are Colleges and Universities responsible? Are organizations responsible? Are we – personally – responsible? In the era of ‘big data’ and overwhelming information, it becomes more and more clear that we can learn almost anything, probably not in great depth, but the options are out there. Schools still unfortunately focus on knowledge (apart from some exceptions), Colleges and Universities seem to be doing the same, while many organizations focus on technical training rather than soft skills. 

Being a well – rounded professional implies a combination of knowledge, skills and abilities. If companies do not have a solid training programme (or any training programme), professionals should try to fill the void on their own. To do this, it is imperative that professionals know where they are heading in terms of career objectives. This will save time and money. So don’t wait for your training manager to get back to you or support you on a training course or qualification you desire. Stop complaining if your organization does not support you. Complaining is not a strategy. You need to plan on your own. Remember, it’s YOUR life.

 

Bite Size Thought by Dr. Constantine 'Dino' Kiritsis

New Posts
  • Dr. Antony Michail
    Nov 6

    Why & how “helicopter view knowledge” (or superficial knowledge) is becoming the norm and why it’s dangerous… Bite Size Thoughts by Dr. Constantine “Dino” Kiritsis, Founder, StudySmart November 2019 Many people read a fact on facebook and either reproduce it or use it in their conversations as an expert; many people see a show on Discovery channel on how to renovate a house and think they know everything about home building; Many people see something in the news on earthquakes and become earthquake experts. They can even assess the earthquake’s magnitude if they move. Others comment on an article, criticize it and a whole discussion arises which makes that person an ‘expert’ in the eyes of his/her network on social media (usually) and the whole discussion remains on the internet for others to refer to and even reproduce and use to support relevant thematic arguments. There are also those who see a 15 - minute TED talk or any video of that sort and become an ‘expert’ in that topic. What makes things worse is that people don’t even like watching videos longer than 3 – 5 minutes (we don’t even have the patience to wait 5 seconds for an add on youtube and we skip it). We all usually scroll a 1 hour video and don’t dig after page 2 of google (they say the best place to hide a dead body is on page 3 of google). It takes a lot more digging and researching to really understand something and be able to hold a conversation . And yes, there are sources after page 2 of google and there is worthwhile information in one hour videos. Well, I hate to break the news to you but there ARE people who know subjects better (they probably have studied the topic and usually have extensive experience in the area) and get very annoyed when people act as if they know everything about a topic in their area after listening to a video or reading a short article that was reposted on facebook. There is a lot more required in understanding a topic in depth. Fortunately, there is a lot of information out there, especially on the net. This information however – in many cases – is mainly unstructured and it is coming in very fast (velocity) so we are not able to synthesize well. Add to this fact the fast pace we are living in along with the short duration of videos to catch our attention, and one gets the idea: Superficial knowledge or a ‘helicopter awareness view” of things. I have a feeling that we are losing ‘focus’… Beware of digital rubbish and ‘mediocracy’ as my friend and associate Dr. Antony Michael likes to say. Next time, instead of saying ‘This is how this is done’ or “let me tell you how that works’ start your statement as follows: ‘ Even though I am not expert or anything on this topic, I recently saw a video and think this is how it is done’ … It shows appreciation and respect to those who DO know how things are done in that specific area and makes you a better communicator. Unless you really ARE an expert… #fakeexperts #digitalrubbish
  • Dr. Antony Michail
    Aug 22

    Why are good people resigning? What are we doing about it? The case for ‘flipping the investment’ from the recruitment process to the fighting turnover process” By Dr. Constantine 'Dino' Kiritsis, China, August 2019 Image Credit: by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay. I totally understand that people can move from company to company as it is a free market. There is nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing necessarily wrong with employees moving ‘fast’ from one company to another, for example, in a year, especially when employees are young. It is like a football team that always signs new players so as to create the best “mix” to win trophies. However, in team sports the teams that really make a difference (in most cases – limitations recognized) employ a solid ‘backbone’ of talented individuals that will stay for a longer period than 1 year in order to build a challenging team around them. For example, a football team would build around some star players (maybe 3-4 our of 11) and a coach would stay for more than 1 year. It is quite impossible to win a championship and stay competitive for more than a year if you do not build around a nucleus of individuals. This has been the norm in football, basketball, volleyball and other sports. Just check Michael Jordan’s team in Chicago, Isiah Thomas’ Detroit Pistons, LeBron James’ teams in recent years, or Lionel Messi in Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo at Real and other amazing dynasties. Things are built around a nucleus of people which stay for a longer period of time. Which brings me to my point. If we accept the fact that companies are groups of individuals that try to become ‘teams’ (a much more powerful word in management than groups), why don’t we try harder to keep the best talent and build around them? History has proven that the best companies had a solid nucleus of talented individuals and I urge anyone who like research to check how Apple was successful, how Amazon became the most valuable company in the world and other examples of SME’s (which are probably worth even more attention) where a team of 3 – 4 individuals in the company, or each department (depending on the size of the entity) really made a difference. Most employers either ‘don’t care’ when talented people leave and very rarely make a counter offer to keep someone. This is because they rely on their powerful brand name to recruit more (if the brand is powerful) and their ego does not allow them to think differently . However, even if more do apply to be recruited, what are the mechanisms in place to keep the best? Companies have mechanisms to recruit, interview, assess, offer case studies, re-assess, shortlist, onboard, mentor people in the beginning and spend lots of money doing so, but it is a totally different ball game when the recruits stay for some time. What are companies doing with those talents who really can make a difference? This is where the effort needs to be made. Again – don’t get me wrong – big companies have systems in place to detect deal with the problem, but if we agree that 20% of companies have some systems in place (research stats indicate that 1 in 10 companies is actually considered ‘big), what are the rest doing about the problem? How are they making people stay? How are they building their employee’s careers? How are they nurturing the talent through training and development? The big brands continue to make their revenues despite departures mainly because the brand is bigger than the people who work for it. However, they do not – and probably do not want to - calculate the opportunity cost when top performers leave. It seems to me that we should ‘flip’ the investment by focusing more on what goes on AFTER the recruit has entered and not before. Through my involvement through consulting & training with a number of HR Directors from around the world, I would suggest recruitment should be based on attitude not skill (something we like saying more than applying). As most in the industry say “You hire for attitude and you train for skill”. If that is the case, it means that some will gain the skill after some time. Therefore when they get the skill and they couple that with attitude, you arguable have some talent. The examples of Zappos in the USA, or McKinsey are noteworthy as they have seemed to understand the problem and focus more on trying to keep the best on the team and not offer them to the competition. Zappos even gives money to people to leave the company. Their amazing innovative culture proves my point. No one calculates the loss and the damage in the market when something like this happens as it would be a disgrace for the leadership who let someone go, especially someone very important. Every team is a team, but undoubtedly some people stand out. Ronaldo and Messi are great players. If you have them on your team they can win you championships and world cups. Make sure you keep an eye on them… I feel big companies should make an effort to build a nucleus and stop counting on the brand doing all the work for them. Before they became ‘brand names’ someone actually did try to keep the best and they should never forget that. In an era where the average life cycle of a company is less than 15 years, transparency is paramount and disruption is everywhere, I feel the focus needs to change. Remember, the war on talent has been won by the talent…
  • Dr. Antony Michail
    Jul 2

    The case for changing the term “Teacher” to “Enabler” BiteSize Thought by Dr. Constantine 'Dino' Kiritsis My good friend and colleague Tim Kemp, an amazing trainer/facilitator gave me his insight a couple of years ago on the term “enabling”. Tim’s argument was basically that the term management can – and should be - easily replaced with “Enablement”. After all, isn’t that what managers have to do?  Their job is to organize, administer and – above all – enable their teams and people to deliver. The more I thought about Tim’s argument these past years, it became clear that the term is much more powerful than I thought as I started testing it as a replacement not only for management but also for the word/term “Teacher”. The teacher: If one looks back in history, the term ‘teacher’ has been around in some form 6 thousand years back. During – and since - that time teachers were those who delivered knowledge, who ‘taught’ students facts and figures (mainly) . The school system was (mostly) always about knowledge, facts and figures and not about facilitating students to learn and express their opinions (I know, there are a few exceptions), unless you were lucky and had a great educator in your classroom. Teaching was – for centuries – delivered in the same style, with the educator facing the children, mainly listening, freedom was limited and students had to remember chunks of information and facts so that they could reproduce them on tests and assessments. Even when reading poems and quotes from famous authors and poets, students were – in many places around the world – forced to comply with the views of the educator as ‘freedom of speech” was limited and/or students were afraid to be disruptive as standing out could get them in trouble. Again, if you were lucky, you could have met a teacher like Samuel Pickering (the real inspiration behind the protagonist in the movie Dead Poets Society, a professor from my Alma Mater University of Connecticut), played by Robin Williams. For thousands of years, the “teacher centric” view was logical as it made sense to get educated from ‘experts’ with University degrees doing the reading for us as they were the ones having access to books, most of the resources and research findings which were so valuable at the time. The teacher in the 21st century The 21st century is totally different. Books have been partly replaced by the internet, knowledge has been replaced with ‘synthesis’ of information, patterns of data through data analytics, artificial intelligence, disruptive innovation, competency frameworks, project based learning, crowdsourcing and the list goes on. Companies are employing high school graduates without a degree but with programming skills (i.e. IBM, Microsoft and others) while educators need to ‘up their game’ on a constant basis to be employable, use technology, follow fast moving data and trends and be ‘up to date”. Students have access to almost ANY book available in digital form, analysis by educators can virtually be found for free on youtube through videos, free courses from Udemy or Edex and on-line degrees and certificates from prestigious institutions. Within this framework, is the teacher still a teacher? The context has changed. Therefore, if the context has changed, isn’t it right to assume that the teacher needs to change with it? The tools have changed but are teachers ready to ‘teach’ in such a context? It seems to me that educators need a completely new skill set. It is not only about ‘knowing’ facts. It is not only about presenting a session. It is understanding HOW to use the new tools, teaching students skills like what is valid and reliable on the internet, how to manage time in a big data era, how to embrace change, how to share ideas, how to be entrepreneurial and innovative and how to do all these things in a such a way that it is not imposing. This is why innovators like Sal Khan of Khan Academy are “flipping the classroom” (learning online at home and doing homework at school) and making educators become mentors or “facilitators” while institutions are changing their business models and giving away knowledge and content for free thus making the topic of content and the way it is structured extremely important. From Teachers to Enablers If we agree with the fact that schools have not changed as fast as other institutions and industries while the education industry may be considered as the slowest changing industry in the world, is it probably because the focus should be on the people who educate and not the system (at least in this order)? Shouldn’t we get the ‘buy in’ from the educators before changing the context itself? Isn’t there a new skill set requirement evolving? Can Universities (which are also not changing fast) help with new curriculums which can groom the new “Enabler ”? Don’t we need enablers rather than teachers in our era? We need to ask ourselves what other skills or “extra skills” does an enabler need in the 21st century not only to teach and facilitate, but also to inspire and make use of all the new tools, the overwhelming amount of information and data that both student and educator are receiving and how to update, upgrade and be open to the inevitable change that is bound to happen faster and faster. It may make some educators obsolete. It may make them require to study more than their students to be up to date as the ‘distance’ between student and educator has closed. If you add on the real mission of an educator which is inspiring, it may complicate things even more. As Maya Angelou stated “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If we want to make our students feel inspired, ready, adaptable and able to embrace the new era and if we agree that teaching is giving students a compass and teaching them how to use it, let’s make sure we know how to use the compass ourselves before we start using it…

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