What is Ability?
Ability is the capability a person has to complete different actions. These abilities can be either physical or mental (cognitive). Abilities differ from skills. Skills are things you can develop with practice. Getting bigger, faster, and stronger from physical training are skills that can be improved with a lot of hard work and perseverance. However, the ability to reach something high in the air is a physical ability that you cannot develop no matter how hard you work towards it.
An organization needs to harness people’s abilities to their roles and job descriptions. People have different cognitive abilities. Some are very creative whereas others are very analytical. Companies need to recognize which employees have a creative knack and put them in brainstorming situations to come up with new innovative ideas for the company. Then take the analytical type employees and have them pick apart how different moves will affect the company. This can be done in all departments, creative finance people can find new ways to save money while analytical marketing people can analyze where the market is going and brainstorm with a creative marketing associate to make a campaign.
Abilities can be exercised depending on what the particular ability is. For instance certain cognitive abilities such as remembering things can be exercised by repetition. “The exercise of such abilities is nothing less than the acquisition of knowledge” (Millar). The more knowledge a person absorbs the better their ability to recall important information during tasks will become. This is highly important in problem solving situations both creatively and analytically. All situations are met with different types of road blocks and if people are able to recall other situations and how they were solved to better solve the new problem, they’re ultimately more valuable to the company.
Another important value in many industries is safety standards. A study done showed, “individuals with higher levels of cognitive ability were more likely to demonstrate higher safety behavior regardless of level of conscientiousness” (Robbins). This is important because even in jobs where physical ability is crucial, such as hard labor jobs. It is important to also test the cognitive ability of employees and applicants so that as an employer you know that your workers will be able to think through builds, and follow safe practice so that no other workers are hurt in the process. If a hard labor job was chosen only on physical ability and not on cognitive, many accidents would take place due to careless activity in the work zone. The last thing anyone wants to do is get knocked off a scaffold because of careless moving of equipment by another worker.
The discussions of ability show that companies need to be aware of employees’ different abilities. Likewise employees need to recognize their own abilities and not necessarily put themselves in spots where they will not be successful and should rather be looking for opportunities where they can showcase their abilities. This ties back to value that we have talked about prior in class. If as an employee you strive to showcase your abilities in different areas you create value in yourself which makes the company not want to lose you. This opens up more doors for opportunity for advancement.
Students can use this information in a couple of ways. First of all even though they may not have strengths in certain abilities it is always a good idea to be well rounded and try and develop some abilities even if they are only a small fraction, at least having the knowledge of those different abilities helps you move forward in your career. Additionally students like employees need to show off their abilities to prospective employers. If a student can exemplify their abilities to employers they stand a much higher chance of landing a job or internship to start their career.
Robbins, S., McKinniss, T., Postlethwaite, B., Rickerson, J. The moderation of conscientiousness by cognitive ability when predicting workplace safety behavior. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886909002700
Millar, A. What is it that Cognitive Abilities are Abilities to Do? http://link.springer.com.huaryu.kl.oakland.edu/article/10.1007/s12136-009-0062-4/fulltext.html