How to get the competitive advantage

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How have the revised BEE codes affected business? Tarryn Mason
discusses the best way to maximise points on the Skills Development element
of the triple-BEE scorecard.


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Progression recently hosted an interactive and informative breakfast workshop
which focused on adding 'colour' to the Skills Development Element of the
revised B-BBEE scorecard.
The main purpose of the workshop was to have an intimate and debated
discussion on the effects on business brought about by the revised codes and
the best route to maximise points on the Skills Development element of the
triple-BEE scorecard.
The workshop also explored the multiple forces affecting business practice
today and how using the codes as a guideline towards transformation can
drastically improve an organisation's sustainable competitive advantage.

Tarryn Mason, General Manger at Progression and Julia Wilkinson, the company's
Organisational Development Manager were able to shed some light on the
revised codes, but more importantly highlighted the necessity for the 'bigger
picture' of Skills Development.
Tarryn began the presentation by introducing the new codes and
some of the changes that have occurred regarding the points allocation of Skills
Development expenditure. She went on to explain in more detail the
effects on business in meeting the subminimum of 40% to achieve the 10 points.

She highlighted that where, previously Skills Development expenditure was
required to be spent on black employees, it now refers to black people for
spending on the Learning Programme Matrix.
This opens up the door to expenditure on up-skilling people who are not
necessarily employed by the company, which may previously have been
classified as Social Economic Empowerment as per the codes, and can now have
points attributed to the Skills Development element (however, this does not
allow for double pointing).
Another aspect as one of the main advantages of the new codes is the fact
that racial sub group targets need not be applied for people with disabilities,
furthermore companies will receive an extra point for their spend on black
employees with disabilities moving forward.
There was much debate at the workshop over the interpretation of the
codes, testament to the fact that there is a lot of ambiguity relating to the new
codes and how best to implement them.

However the conclusion drawn, was that B-BBEE acts as a guideline for
transformation. As Tarryn states, "Organisations need to remain focused on the
'spirit' and intention of the B-BBEE codes rather than how best to interpret the
codes." Julia, supports this by reminding everyone that implementing a 'best
practise' model in the workplace is a critical step toward effectively managing B-
BBEE

Julia introduced to the workshop the multi-platform stage which businesses
find themselves performing on in the 21st century and the need to implement a
total Skills Development solution. There are numerous dynamics which have an
impact on organisations which are listed below.
The emergence and necessity for knowledge workers along with a
multicultural and diverse workforce. "It is no longer common for people to
graduate, get a job and work in the same job for 20 years, companies require
employees to have multiple skills, and workers are motivated by career growth
and development opportunities" states Julia, highlighting the need for new and
versatile skills.
Empowering people has brought about a culture of lifelong learning and a
commitment to empowerment in business practise. The cross-pollination of skills
of employees has also become a trend in business. Job roles require a more
diverse display of skills and therefore more flexible organisational structures.

She also brought to everyone's attention the existence of five generation
types in the workplace (according to the Strauss-Howe generational theory
which describes the silent generation, baby boomers, generation X, generation Y
and the Millennial generation). Organisations, therefore, need to be able to
engage and interact with workers on various interactive levels according to their
individual values, work style and learning style.

Julia pointed out that all of these trends are reflected in the increased focus on
Skills Development in the B-BBEE scorecard and are necessary for companies to
consider in their quest for transformation and a sustainable competitive
advantage.

The Progression 3-step cyclic model, which was introduced at the workshop,
proposes a holistic approach to Skills Development, whilst considering the bigger
picture of the organisation. Although each and every organisation is unique in its
makeup and therefore its needs, a general outline of the model's main
intentions
are described below.
1. Understanding Existing Human Capital
As with all strategic management and planning, before companies can start
thinking about what they want to do or where they want to go they need to
understand where they are at. As Julia pointed out, "often companies are
already meeting certain requirements according to the codes without them
realising so", and it would therefore be wiser for those businesses to build
smarter strategies in order to maximise points. "It is only when you understand
in its entirety where you are, that you can offer direction and guidance to where
you need to go." The practical implications of phase one involves conducting
skills audits and employment equity reporting, so that companies can
understand both their demographic make-up as well as the skills pool available.

2. Implementation of accredited Skills Development Initiatives

The main purpose of this is to develop further, the skills and talents of the
organisation's human capital, as per the Learning Programme Matrix supplied by
the codes. However this is often the most challenging and resource consuming
aspect of the process, and where the interpretation of the codes can be difficult.
It is here where Progression specialises in project managing and facilitating
Skills
Development initiatives with the overall effect of removing much of the tedious
'admin' work involved. Julia reminds companies in this step to consult and build
relationships with their rating agencies to ensure the initiatives that they are
implementing will obtain the necessary 'points' and recognition required by the
business, as each rating agency may have a different interpretation of the
codes.
3. Support and Value add solutions
The last and most important, yet sometimes the most overlooked phase. It
is often here that organisations lose sight of the bigger picture in terms of
transformation, and it is at this stage that the true sustainability of the Skills
Development strategy is facilitated. "Companies need to start retaining their
employees and encourage employee embeddedness" Julia states, followed by
"How do we create happy employees? How do we convince employees that we,
as an organisation are training for development rather than training just for-B-
BBEE". Tarryn and Julia both pointed out the necessity for creating career paths
for employees in order to ensure staff retention. Julia also made a point that
many organisations already implement many types of non-accredited support
and value adds, which they need to more effectively plan and track to ensure
that they can gain 'points' for the on-the-job training and mentoring taking
place.

As with all things at Progression the workshop ended with an interactive
Skills Development game, which was used to further unpack and shed light on
the particular aspects relating to the Learning Programme Matrix and the
interpretation of the revised codes. The game was facilitated by Progression's
four Business Development Consultants; Imogen Rossam, Candice Abrahams,
Christia Lerm and Evile Poswa. The game offered a great opportunity for
everyone present to get a better understanding of the practical aspects of Skills
Development in relation to the codes, as well as an opportunity to share their
ideas and opinions.
The model proposed by Progression can be adapted to any business, and
often incorporates already existing aspects of Skills Development initiatives
within the company. In order to allow businesses the opportunity to maximise
the use of this strategy, Progression will be offering on going Skills Development
workshops which will be tailor made to suite individual business requirements.

For further information or to book a workshop for your company please email
[email protected] or call
0860 754 557 (SKILLS).
Photo source: http://www.cloudave.com

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