Human capital, or more appropriately referred to nowadays as human resources, is the basic building block of every enterprise. We can say that employees in a company are like players in a sports team – without them, the functioning of organisation is impossible. It is also known that there are players who stand out more or less from the crowd of volunteers to play in the first line-up. The same is true of the people who are employed in our company, in each of them are hidden layers of ambition, which if properly fed and satisfied, may pay off in the future with tangible benefits. How can we estimate the potential of each employee? When should we invest in the development of our subordinates, or (looking from the other side) when should we demand and strive to improve our professional competences and qualifications?
The IT sector is famous for the constant upgrading of competences of the people working in it, due to the dynamically changing and evolving environment. Here, apart from the financial aspect, self-development is, of course, the most desired corporate currency. It would seem, therefore, that every company cares about evenly investing in the skills of its digital technology specialists, but is it really the case that theory translates into practice? The answer is quite trivial – it depends WHERE.
Sometimes, when we look through the CV of a person interested in a position offered by us, we see the entry “4 years at XYZ position”. We can assume in advance that such a person has already seen and worked on many projects. We invite such people for interviews, during which, to our great surprise, it turns out that in such a long period of time they have not developed at all, because the projects that he or she has completed were simple and repetitive, and in addition so time-consuming that there was no room for polishing his or her skills. Their CV suggests that they should be climbing up the hierarchical ladder, whereas in reality they have not acquired any new skills at all, but have actually regressed! Of course, this is a classic case of communicating vessels, so this situation would also have a negative impact on the company where the person is employed. Leaving an employee alone with his laptop will not automatically make him start to develop. Mutual understanding is important here – the superior should get to know his/her subordinate and support him/her in specific activities (within the scope useful for the company, of course).
Three aspects will be key here:
1. a plan and an idea for ourselves
The best courses and the best coaches do not help, if you are not convinced about who you want to be and what you want to do. IT companies pride themselves on having a relatively high degree of autonomy over the people they hire. This means that they do not try to impose on their employees in which direction they should go in and what skills they should acquire, but rather encourage them to decide for themselves about their development path. Of course, this is usually formalised in appropriate documents, the shape of which is often determined in consultation with the manager or team leader, in order to be able to monitor the objectives set, and then, during quarterly meetings, to analyse the path already travelled and correct any possible course of action to achieve success. This does not change the fact, however, that it is the employee who decides how much time, energy and capacity he or she wants to devote to a specific action that will serve to improve his or her competence.
2. development programmes
We smoothly move on to the aspect touched upon in part in the first point, but this time the “ball lies” on the employer’s side. The definition of the career path by the employee is only an overture to the actual performance. Workshops, presentations, online training, conferences, and even subscriptions to industry magazines… There are at least as many ways to transfer knowledge as there are departments in every global corporation. The important thing is to match them appropriately to the category of interests of each person willing to take part in them. Special tests can help those who are undecided, and of course they will not show us exactly the one and only field in which we will surely become world-class experts, but they can suggest where to set this extremely important starting point on the long, exciting road to becoming a specialist in our profession.
3. science supported by practice
Nothing revealing. No surgeon can perform surgery without a fair amount of hours spent practicing to perfect his or her craft. It is the same with a programmer. Book theory is of course important, very important, but without confronting it with real project requirements, it will add little to our professional resume. From an early age man is a creature with a tendency to learn from mistakes, so more lines of code and hours spent looking for errors in their writing, will be irreplaceable in the long and arduous process of becoming a better version of ourselves.
To sum up, no company, not even the most recognised one on the market, will make us reach professional heights if we do not undertake specific actions aimed at overcoming higher and higher ambitions. It is important to determine the goals of both sides in consultation with the employer, and then plan the closest possible way to achieve them. Then, in the perspective of passing months or years, both parties will be satisfied with the effects of cooperation, regardless of how long it lasts.