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Are you ready to work on multiple areas?
History has been witness to and awe of the brilliance exhibited by individuals whose knowledge spread across boundaries - who knew something about everything and everything about something. They were referred to as the ‘Renaissance Men/Women'.
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You create a pool of capable talent that is multi-skilled and as a business, it gives a company a tremendous competitive advantage over the rest;
This model could create many business leaders by capitalising on the expertise they possess in various functions;
If practiced through a cross-functional and virtual team approach, you could well create a high performance work environment.
Companies that encourage cross-functional exposure may also see an improvement in employees' overall job satisfaction, which can increase productivity and performance. This ultimately results in better numbers for the management if they look at the net effective revenue against an assignment. "Job rotations are a great way of skill-development and works for both - the employee and organisation. For the business units, while it can be argued that specialists do a good job, the importance of a different perspective and diversity of thought cannot be undermined. It gives a chance to the organisation to gain from the different and fresh perspective of new employees coming in from different backgrounds who are able to challenge old paradigms as they do not carry the burden of any legacy with them," says R Anish, director- HR, Intel South Asia. Furthermore, this leads to a lean team architecture and better interaction amongst the team. Bhasker Bhandary, director- HR, Acer India states, "The decision is always project-specific, whether a project requires an expertise involvement or a generalist one. Ideally, a specialist delivers function-specific products/services, whereas a team with cross-functional expertise would deliver 360-degree requirement of the process, business and the customer."
Building core capabilities or specialisation could be an issue; hence, firms could struggle to create their own uniqueness;
Achieving excellence through sustained research or thought leadership could be an issue with all generalists around;
Unless supported by a strong knowledge management system and culture of mentoring, there could be knowledge erosion, thus leading to a loss of delivery capabilities.
As business competitiveness becomes complex and global, building such a competency model does find takers. So how do organisations consider and implement this model? "We consciously focus on people competency to develop a good mix of core competencies and cross-functional capabilities in one or two areas as per our business strategy. We have center of excellences (CoEs) that build the core with their specialised knowledge, well supported by the scientific community and innovation group. We also have a global knowledge management system to support, capture, and re-use the specialised knowledge in all geographies," says Deviprasad Das, senior vice president and head – HR, Atos India. However, is this mandate only for the seasoned employee or new joinees as well? "We have an entry-level and experienced ‘Edison Engineering Development program (EEDP)', which is a two to three-year entry-level programme consisting of three or more rotational assignments," states Aarif Aziz, leader - HR, GE India Technology Center.
With the global economy pacing forward each day, companies have been exhausting the vending machines to innovate and build an archetype, which gives them the winning edge. Providing an opportunity to employees to acquire new skills and experience does improve their employability. And progressive companies that understand just that will have an advantage over the rest.
- Manoj Reddy