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1.

INTRODUCTION

An acclaimed business development executive holds a first class degree in computer science. Other
than clinching high value deals for his firm, he identifies a manpower intensive problem within the
firm that takes up a great deal of time and labor costs. The computer science engineer inside him
compels him to design an algorithm system to automate the processes. However, due to the
compartmentalised way his company is structured and the lack of official support avenues from his
managers, his idea is ever brought to fruition. The company’s efficiency continues to dip, costs
continue to increase and the employee continues to feel thwarted.

To some, the above could be interpreted as a symptom of a poor resource management problem
(Harrington, 2007), a symptom of inadequate logistical provisioning or if the employee eventually
leaves the company, a symptom of employee satisfaction. Some may just attribute them all to the
problem of deficient management. What this really stems from however, is untapped potential of
multi-talented employees (DeMers, 2015). Iteratively breaking down the above scenario and
probing it further to explore all possible alternative problems will essentially yield the
aforementioned problem.

2. UNDERSTANDING THE SITUATION – IDENTIFYING KEY SYMPTOMS

As seen, a problem can exhibit a number of symptoms and it is important to frame the situation
from the most precise standpoint. A situation of partially neglected employees who are talented in
cross disciplines can resemble both a symptom and a problem (Pride, 2015). When looked at the
situation from another perspective, it could also be that of cross training policies. Absence of cross-
training policies in an organisation is an example of a deep-seated problem which can result in
talented employees not having official avenues of collaborations between departments (Olivella,
2017). This in turn results in poor management of such employees. On the other hand, the
management of multi-talented employees can be so bad that decision makers in an organisation are
hardly aware of the presence of individuals within the organisation that would greatly benefit from
cross training policies. As much as this may seem like a chicken and egg problem, it is not. Cross
training policies can also be implemented in an organisation from scratch to target employees who
have no cross disciplinary skillsets (Gong, 2013). Since both the absence and presence of multi-
talented employees can kickstart cross training policies, the situation presented above should not
be branded as that of cross training.

If the absence of cross training policies is an indicative symptom of a problem pertaining to multi-
talented employees, what are the other factors and how do they correspond to this issue? Just as the
above, there are a number of telltale symptoms. Rising operating costs despite having specialised
talent, reducing efficiency in products and services due to manpower intensive tasks, inadequate
understanding of client’s requirements, unidirectional strategies of departments and a high turnover
rate of employees proficient in differing disciplines are a list of symptoms (Dealing With Poor
Performance, 2018) that can be attributed to a problem surrounding multi-talented employees. Of
course, these symptoms singularly make their appearance in other problems as well. However,
when considered collectively, one would decipher an intriguing problem of talent management
(Kramers, 2017). In conjunction with the last symptom, we are consequently left with the
predominant problem of the management of multi-talented employees, with auxiliary factors like
cross training policies coming into the mix.

3. WRITING A MANAGERIAL DECISION STATEMENT AND CORRESPONDING


RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

The problem has been disclosed, but that only forms the stepping-stone. To obtain a definitive
solution, the problem itself has to be further explored into. If the management of multi-talented
employees is a problem, what are the means to fix it? Ultimately, this surrounds around the principle
that one of the roles of a good manager is nurturing (SM, 2010). Combining that with effective
leading, this situation is more of what is missing in the management than what can be further added.
More often that not, the development of talented employees in an organisation is attributed to the
presence socio-political obstacles within the organisation (White, 2017). These may include
insufficient revenue for cross training or lack of current understanding of managers. The traits of a
good manager would be effective enough to go as far as correcting these organisational defects that
lead to the poor management of multi-talented employees (Delbridge, 2006). Given that the
problem here is that of the poor management of multi-talented employees, the decision statement
is essentially an antonym of what the problem is. How can multi-talented employees be better
managed?

Following on the decision statement on ‘how’, research objectives depicting the deliverables of the
project are somewhat straightforward now. As discussed earlier, multi-talented employees can only
be managed better when the obstacles preventing good management are tackled. The primary
objective should hence be the identifying of obstacles preventing good management of multi-
talented employees. However, that would only be half the problem solved. A secondary objective
would then have to be removing these obstacles and promoting management practices of multi-
talented employees (Vidha, 2017). Both the decision statement as well as the research objectives
can be reenacted as per to the example presented at the start. The lack of official support avenues
from the managers may seem to form the obstacle to the employee, but dwelling deeper, it can be
seen that the managers themselves encounter obstacles (Schein, 2010) which prevent them from
providing productive support to their multi-talented employees. The aim would then be to identify
these obstacles and to remove them so that the manager-employee framework can run like a well-
oiled machine.
4. DETERMINING THE UNIT OF ANALYSIS

It goes without saying that research would not be research without data sets (Adams, 2014).
Valuable research owes its credibility to the origin of data used. This origin can be termed as the
unit of analysis. This can be further classified into units of generalisation, units of measurement
and aggregation of these units (Kenny, 2016). For the problem presented here, there are two evident
generalisations being the employee and the manager. There is also an additional generalization of
organisation as management trends of multi-talented employees would differ across companies.
The measurement of non-independence would indeed show that these generalisations are
unambiguous. No one employee is the same and even if a group of employees report to one
manager, they are independent enough in their specific job scopes (Cantrell, 2010). The same
applies to managers and organisations. Units of measurement would then filter these groups down
to the specific needed. In the case of employees, the unit of measurement would be the employee’s
qualifications and skillsets.

Now comes the tricky portion however. As said earlier, a single manager is usually tasked to a
group of employees. In the interests of knowing how deep obstacles are nestled within an
organisation, the unit of measurement for managers should be kept as flexible as possible. That
way, stances of human resources managers, company directors and line managers can be examined.
Similarly, to allow organisations of contrasting industries to be included in the research, the unit of
measurement should be kept permeable as well. Lastly, aggregation can be categorically
established. Adopting to the conventional hierarchy stricture in most organisations, employees are
considered as factions presided by managers, governed by organisations. The highest level would
definitely be the organisation and by that virtue, it would make the unit of analysis for this research.
The managers and the employees would then form the smaller and the smallest levels.

5. DETERMINING RELEVANT VARIABLES

Due to the somewhat niche datasets to be collected, helped in some parts by the fact that not all
employees are talented in contrasting fields, the variables necessary in this research are easily
fathomable. It is important to establish a categorical variable first however. The type of employee.
In this case and reiterating from earlier, the type of employee would be one who holds educational
qualifications in more than one discipline and/or one who holds professional skillset in more than
one disciple.

Deep diving into continuous variables, a crucial continuous variable in this case is managers’
reception towards multi-talented employees. A manager who is not approving of his/her employees
would be the first obstacle in the way of development. Apart from this, the progression and turnover
rates of these multi-talented employees are necessary continuous variables to evaluate the success
rates of these employees and if they are commensurate to their own portfolios (Akindolire, 2017).
A dependent variable would be the multi-talented employee’s prospects of development and
satisfaction within an organisation. Aligning with the research objectives, the independent variables
affecting the above dependent variable would be the cross training policies of the organisation,
reward systems for these employees and structural policies of the organisation. By centering
variables around both the managers and the employees, the research objectives can be met from
both direction is a twin prong approach.

6. WRITING RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND/OR RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

In light of the foregoing, the research topic has been outlined in its entirety. With the primary
building blocks in place, answers can be sought for decision statements. But what about meeting
the objectives themselves? It is hard to quantify objectives in its default form. A certain
transformation is necessary to translate these research objectives into research questions. The first
objective of identifying the obstacles preventing good management of multi-talented employees
does not strike strong impressions on the preface. Put it in terms of a question however, and it is
compelling to meet this objective. ‘What are the obstacles preventing good management of multi-
talented employees?’ This will naturally lead to derivative questions of ‘why’ and ‘how’. Similarly,
the second objective of removing these obstacles and promoting management practices of multi-
talented employees can be rephrased as ‘how can these obstacles be removed?’ and ‘how can
management practices be improved?’ These questions now form the driving force of this research
endeavor and only when wholesome answers are achieved through the means in the preceding
sections can this endeavor be deemed complete.

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