Directions and directors of competence 3

Focus at possibilities  for direction and control by managers and/or workers

 In part two, I discussed the formulation of guidelines for defining and describing competence for employability. I was critical about the usefulness of task decompositions. I also discussed my preference for analysis and the definition of functional criteria and my disgust about a universal concept of competence for HRM and VET. The necessary competence for employability is mainly determined by the characteristics of the labour by means of a production concept. The analysis supports alignment of logics for the company goals, the production, the competence for employability and the control of workers.

 Production logic

When a company formulated her goals, organised the production and their workers know their tasks. the quest for efficient and effective work arises. Mostly an order is insufficient for the work to be done. Questions as what to do, how to do, with which means and what are the best conditions (the W-questions) seem adequate because the organisation and the planning are in order. Above that, workers must know what to do, be competent and motivated. They aren’t robots; competence, instruction and motivation must be in balance. These so-called W-questions apply fully structured and therefore predictable work at a well-designed workplace. This is only the case for short-cycle work in a workshop or on an assembly line. Others are responsible for stages of the production cycle as the design, preparation and planning.

The effect of expertise is undeniable; the W-questions would then no longer be held because the personal practice theory is sufficient. But still, these also can serve as a reference for long cyclic work in which workers are responsible for multiple phases and in unpredictable work conditions. Because, in unexpected situations workers adjust the work order so that the work is feasible and lead to effective results. In those cases there is some or even complete freedom of action of the workers. So, the influence of expertise on the balance between structure and freedom for the workers is undeniable. Experienced workers work on the automatic pilot in stable working conditions. But, in dynamic environment or unpredictable conditions work processes and activities have to be geared to the circumstances.

So the question is relevant or a complete structuring is possible and desirable. In dynamic or less predictable work environments  again and again all the decisions about the structuring have to be geared  to one another: by the company, the managers, the workers and the production logic finding the most efficient and effective way of producing. I focus on the reconciliation between the production logic and control logic.

 Towards a logic

My logic for direction and control is based on factors that influence the course of work. A revised version of the information-transformation model (IPO) provides an overview of factors affecting the efficient and effective conduct of the work. The model has a heuristic nature because it is useful for all levels of detail: some activities, series of activities or a working process, stages in the production cycle or even a chain of companies. Perspectives as the necessary conditions, or the balance in leadership and self-direction are possible. The model also provides linking factors for the (self-)direction of independent workers. The model does not support the analysis of the cognitive processes during the working process. But more on that later.

  • The model begins with the characteristics of the input (or materials information) and its quality, the description of the process, and ends with the specification of the result.
  • Afterwards follow screen instructions for the proper conduct of the operations or processes.
  • Then the necessary conditions are described e.g. competence, expertise and given freedom of action of the workers during the process.
  • Instructions serve the communication about the process, the results and the decisions  for acceptance of the product delivered and the improvement of processes.
  • Then the necessary conditions are described as competence, expertise and provided freedom of the workers during the process.
  • Sometimes rules are necessary for the interaction between customers and workers for decision making before, during and after production or services.
  • Uncertainties that interfere with decisions such as variations of the input, the unpredictable  circumstances, the information brought in by workers or their colleagues, variations desired by customers desired , and finally, changes in the opinions of the customers.
  • Don’t forget that motivation plays an important role!

This set of factors makes it clear that a full control is difficult, if not an unfeasible case.

 A fuzzy logic for the control of workers?

Could balancing control and independence become less complex by the introduction of models for the organisation of companies, features of labour and the features of production? I expect that the models offer rules of the thump for the instruments for control and the division of responsibilities between workers and managers. Integration of these models create a fuzzy logic for balancing and alternatives for HRM and VET. In addition, I propose to create a scale of production concepts, operationalized with the characteristics of labour, with increasing independence and decreasing control. After validation is a further functional operationalization of instruments to the order for HRM and vocational education.  All in all creates a set of instruments for the question of the competence for vocational education and HRM.