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LIPA & CSA: Promoting Training for Public Sector Employees

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We hear about the need for ‘training’ for public sector employees everyday! “We need training,” is like a mantra we hum consciously, and sometimes unconsciously! We hear this mantra here, there and just about everywhere.  You have heard it; I have heard it, and guess what; even the kids at home have heard it many times. It’s possible that they (kids) too are beginning to see the mantra as a slogan to be memorized and recited at school events.

We say it. They say it! But how many of us do recognize the significance of training that prompts us to think critically and help us advance? Do we desire training for the per-diem? Do we want to go for training because it affords us the opportunity to get in an airplane and travel outside the country? And after returning from “abroad,” we too can push our shoulders up to our ears and say, “I just coming from training……. the flight was….?” Sometimes after a short (a few weeks) training abroad, some of us return home with a different accent, and slight change in our way of walking.

We want training, but how many of us are really ready to get into intensive work that will demand our painstaking time and efforts? How many of us want to go for training simply because it helps build our capabilities?

On the flip side, we also have those who attend training programs for other reasons. These few attend trainings not to acquire new knowledge and skills but to demonstrate that they “know it all.” You have seen them at meetings, conferences and just about everywhere. There are many stories about such personalities. Let me retell a story of one such personality I heard about from a veteran Trainer. I will call the veteran trainer Ms. B in this article. After an international training session, a comment from one of the participants who attended a month long seminar read: “Thank you for the session, but I already know everything each expert taught.”

Ms. B said that 99% of the participants’ responses about the training were differently. Each had great things to say and each said they learned so much from the presenters. After reading the comment from this participant, Ms. B, who served as Coordinator of the International event said she had to laugh at the comment from the person who “knows it all” in that she (as trainer) found that she learned so much from the 12 experts she invited to the event.

How could we possibly know it all? In every society, even developed ones, the presence or absence of training can impact virtually everything from the cost of legal/monetary judgments, and employee competence to perform their duties. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that training and development are processes that we all need in one form or another to enhance competency, build coalitions, improve output, among other qualities for sustainable growth and progress. Through trainings and development, employees in the public sector (including the private sector) become more adept at performing their respective jobs, building network of partners, and developing efficient communication skills.

In Liberia, and other developing countries, public sector organizations, including the Liberia Institute of Public Administration and the Civil Service Agency can use human resources organization and management practices to carry out needs assessment, and identify training programs to build capabilities, develop human talents so that a free market economy can develop.

In the areas of employee turnover, training and development also prepares people to take over when people leave public sector jobs or retire. As in all countries, each public institution in Liberia has to prepare leaders to assume control when there’s a need for leadership. If an institution recruits often for leadership positions outside the organization,  there’s a high possibility that the organization’s direction and or culture will undergo visible changes – sometimes good, but at other times the change can result to pessimism.

Yes, Training is important, we must acknowledge that training is more than just building the skills and knowledge of each individual for personal benefit. Public and private sector institutions that have invested in training have reported improvement in recruiting staff. While there are people who seek job with higher pay, applicants who are genuinely enthusiastic and competent, and want to earnestly contribute to society look beyond pay rates. Employees and or applicants who are competent look for an environment that fosters personal growth and development. On the other hand,  institutions that recognize and promote trainings hire people with the right attitude.

Another attribute of institutions that promote training is Higher Retention. When people know that an institution believes in their personal growth, they are likely to stay with that agency for a longer period of time.

Additionally, when training is encouraged, organizations reap better output.  The more trainings employees benefit from, the less turnover rate there are within such institutions. It’s evident when staff work in an environment that fosters growth and development, employees  are productive, enthusiastic and motivated. Additionally, employees will bundle the acquired (new) knowledge and skills into everything they design, produce and service within that institution.

However, like any other strategy or business venture, displaying a large sign, or hanging out a billboard won’t guarantee success. Training must been seen as an integral part of development, and the success of an organization, and thereafter society. Training should be more than a charade. And for trainings to yield productive results, all layers of management must believe that training is a process and not a singular learning event.

As for the ‘know it all,”  a respondent said, “knowing it all” belief is often an excuse that people give themselves to avoid the efforts and time to take action and achieve their goals (whatever they are). The respondent added, in REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) terms, this tendency called “Low Frustration Tolerance” often leads to a self-defeating behavior called “Procrastination.” Needless to say it is a very sad way to sabotage our business, our life.

About the author: Musue N. Haddad
is a Liberian Journalist/Photo-Journalist. She holds a graduate degree from George Washington University, and has worked both at home and outside of Liberia. She received several national and international awards for her journalistic practices and human rights work, including the Nelson Mandela Award for “Best Student in Photo-Journalism,” Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), for “outstanding dedication and service towards the recognition, promotion and protection of the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” and Human Rights Watch Hellmann-Hammett Award, granted to writers around the world who have been the targets of political persecution. In 1998/1999, she received the Press Union of Liberia “Journalist of the Year” and ‘”Photo-Journalist of the Year” awards.  Ms. Haddad is a former teacher of the Washington, D.C Public Schools.

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