If we generalize the main directions for the complete development of a professional, we can compare them to a star with several points, such as – Relevant Experience; Relevant Education; Engagement and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); Teamwork skills and Ethics; Networking skills, and more. If professionals invest in the development of all – they become the 'star' type of a professional, if only in 2 or 3 relevant ones (apart from their self-serving abilities) – we have an example of the 'thorn' type.
All of us HR professionals know from experience, that some develop only 2 or 3 points, which they consider more convenient – e.g. networking combined with engagement or education along with CSR proactivity. Their success may come way easier and way faster and this is a reason why motivation for investing in the rest is no longer important.
Likewise, we all know or have heard of that colleague that regularly visits the VP office for a chat; who keeps volunteering to participate in a number of projects while their everyday work gets neglected and picked up by their colleagues; who keeps forming cliques at work for self-defense and sabotage of colleagues who they perceive as rivals, etc.
If companies develop sensitivity to detect these two types – 'stars' and 'thorns', they will no longer provide fertile soil for the growth of 'thorns'. In this case, the recruiter at the corporate gate would be responsible to fulfill the job description requirement for core competencies and educational degree. If, for instance, the recruiter neglects the educational requirements and bases the selection decision on certain recommendations or arbitrary factors, this will lead to a decrease in the motivation to invest in education.
The same is valid for the career development in the company. Sometimes candidates applying for a promotion to a managerial position are shortlisted without the required degree (which is either lacking or is not with the relevant focus). They will probably make good task performers but will not have the knowledge framework and the broader professional and problem orientation.
Nowadays, these practices have no excuse since professionals have opportunities for their educational development. There are numerous options for lifelong learning (such as university distance learning and e-learning programmes) that provide global standard education. They are accessible for all if only professionals have the motivation to invest effort, time and money in a complete professional development. On the other hand, this motivation is dependent not only on the individual proactivity but on the corporate strategies which should make investing in education meaningful.
For me, as a lecturer, this is an important question in terms of the contemporary development of the professionals and the organisations. I recognise the importance of the innate aptitudes and social instincts which fuel the motivation, but the development process has to be stimulated and channeled effectively by the organisations and the education institutions as well as the individuals.
In this line of thoughts, it is very important to answer the question – What conditions do we create and what professionals do we develop – 'stars' or 'thorns'?