There are still so many artificial boundaries in the corporate world. Employees have a set career ladder ahead of them, with horizontal moves that add incremental value still a relative rarity. There are only a certain amount of cross-disciplinary projects that they can work on (if they are lucky enough to be chosen) to develop a broader skillset. They are moulded by those around them and by senior management that have gone before them (who have naturally done their job and faced the same challenges that they do).
There is little room for innovation in such a setup, little chance for the true Eureka moments to occur – to make the step changes that your organization requires. People have always done it this way, so you play it safe. No one wants to be different….
What if different was good? What if you were challenged to “hack” things, every day of your working life? Where employees were actively challenged to learn from others and implement the best practice not only of their colleagues but from other industries, other countries? What if a business “loaned” out its best employees to other companies in order to pick up some “hacking” inspiration. Is this such a “far out” idea?
For an old-fashioned business where continuity is key, this would seem like madness. For a business that truly values the development of its employees, this would actually help aid retention in the long run. Employees would be able to put these projects on their CVs; it would bring them extra knowledge and the “home” organization would benefit as a result.
Their salary (plus a big bonus) could be paid by the receiving organization, without taking on a permanent employee, so this would also be materially beneficial to the employee, and there could be reciprocal arrangements with employees moving both ways. This breaks up the monotony of the career ladder and if managed properly could deliver tangible benefits for all.
There is a saying in the business world that people work in “silos.” These barriers need to be broken down, not only within the wider organization but between different businesses. The age of information is upon us and the age of knowledge workers, transferring their skills from role to role, is not far behind. This will usher in a new age of competition, a new dimension to employee development and a new “perk” that a company can offer its employees.
So, you might send an employee to do month long project at Google? Maybe someone from Google will come to your business and lead one of your teams for six months while your current Director is completing a full time MBA? Maybe you’ll sign a strategic partnership with one of your key clients so that you can get to know each other better. The possibilities are endless…..
This could be the next stage of people development.
In my opinion, it has a lot going for it.