By Pia Prip Hansen
Today’s fast-changing workplace has led to a shift from specialisation to generalisation. According to the article “Generalists Get Better Job Offers Than Specialists” published in Harvard Business Review, organisations try to do more with less, and seek employees with multiple skills and versatility. However, how does this new trend correspond with the conventional career advice to find a speciality and not appear too “general” on one’s CV? Does this mean that future workforces become a generation of generalist – a jacks of all trades generation?
Knowledge and skills are powerful in today’s world, and learning becomes valuable, not only for the individual, but for the organisation as well. In the new hybrid work culture, the rapid change in markets and organizations might force people to do work that were not part of their original job description, and the need for internal training programmes increases. Learning to adapt to the changes and gaining new knowledge and skills increase the value of the employees. Additionally, learning and development can increase motivation and engagement and benefit the work culture. However, training programmes for change only works when the “senior” leaders lead, role model and champion the change. It is the good example, the passion and the engagement of the leaders that make the difference, emphasize the need and motivate people to learn and change.
However, neither the individual nor the organisation benefit from training programmes, when you are simply transferring existing knowledge from one person to another. The aim should be to create a learning alliance between the different types of hybrid employees on different hierarchical levels within the organisation.
The core of mentoring is the dialogue between two people and the emphasis on personal reflection and learning for both. Mentoring thus adds a unique quality to the training by helping the transformation of learning into real-life competencies for the mentee, while at the same time the mentor develops and apply new skills to challenge and support the mentee’s learning.
That organisations aim at employing generalist and flexible employees does not mean that the specialist will disappear from the work market. However, both specialists and generalists need to adopt a versatile mind-set, and the core of the hybrid work culture is the ability to develop one’s skills by either supplementing one’s broad base of skills with some specific expert knowledge, or by supplementing one’s deep base of skills with some generalist knowledge and skills.
Torres, Nicole (2016), Generalists Get Better Job Offers Than Specialists, published in Harvard Business Review, June 2016 Issue – Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/06/generalists-get-better-job-offers-than-specialists on 27-10-2016
Kaye, Lev (2014), Generalist vs. Specialists: Who Owns The Future, published on December 10, 2014 on https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141210151331-3090630-generalists-vs-specialists-who-owns-the-future
Poulsen, Kirsten, M. (2012), The Mentor+Guide to Mentoring Programmes, KMP+ Forlag
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