Holmes was a great philosopher, poet, physician and probably a local
government human resources director. How do I know? Simple! He was
an ardent fan of human development and of seizing opportunities to
learn in order to contribute and grow.
He was once
quoted as saying,
a brain, once expanded, can never return to its
What a wonderful expression of the effect of
learning on an employee and organization.
The HR Doctor
invites his elected and appointed colleagues to consider that great
quote from several dimensions, especially when considering a budget
request to increase HR expenditures for organizational learning!
From the individual employee standpoint, learning new skills and
gaining new knowledge helps the individual understand specific needs
as well as broader perspectives about the organization and the
There is a
magic HR acronym implanted into the brains of every successful HR
executive. In fact, if you arrive very early in the morning at
opening sessions of HR conferences, you can find people chanting
K-S-As, K-S-As. The knowledge, skills and abilities of individual
employees and the attention paid by the organization to their
learning opportunities increases the productivity, morale and
retention of key staff members. The best staff members are
magnetically attracted to the agency that respects them by offering
them the chance to contribute more. Learning is the key to
organization as a whole, success will be found in the KSAs of the
staff. How aware are the agents of the sheriff, for example, about
the liabilities and opportunities to protect the community with
modern methods of law enforcement? What reputation would the county
hospital, behavioral health department or out-patient clinics have
if the staff members were not provided with ways to keep up with
their fast-changing profession?
HR daughter, Rachel, in her third year of medical school, will see
the body of knowledge in her chosen profession expand five-fold by
the time she is in her 30th year of practice! Organizational success
demands the best methods to deliver services, with the greatest
efficiency and humanity, be applied.
a special responsibility to apply such methods, since we serve, not
only everyone in the community, but especially the frail, elderly,
young, ill and those in need. It is hard to provide first-class
service without class in terms of professional learning, networking
and employee development.
what the HR Doctor hopes is a compelling case for the support of
employee development programs, there must also be a strong dose of
accountability for prudent use of funds and facilities by those
responsible for bringing the programs to life. Some of the key
ingredients in a successful learning organization begin with
periodic needs assessments. Those in HR can and should lead the
effort to keep employees up-to-date of trends in public
administration and opportunities for learning.
are augmented by professional networking to learn about best
practices in local government and in the private sector. How to
bring those practices and the enhanced technologies which often
accompany them into your own organization is the next challenge
after the needs assessment and mining the fields for ideas and
to the organization in innovative ways which make learning fun and
valuable as well as financially responsible. If you can stand the
thought of re-reading several past HR Doctor articles (assuming you
read them in the first place) you will get some practical insights
into how this can be accomplished in any county! See I Never Met a
Metaphor I Didnt Like or Turning A Retreat into A Great Step
Forward at www.hrdr.net.
We can teach
KSAs. Sadly, it is a great deal harder to instill wisdom in our
colleagues and ourselves. Wisdom, according to the HR father-in-law,
involves understanding when and how to apply KSAs. Solomon, he
reminds me, prayed for wisdom, not knowledge! Despite the value of
that lesson, wisdom must be set on a foundation of learning and
knowledge. Employee and organizational learning is the ticket to
better performance and reduced liabilities. What more could a
taxpayer, a voter, an auditor, a newspaper editor, or a child being
served by a local government want?
May your KSAs
continue to expand!