Everything you need to know about the methods and techniques of executive development. Executive development is a systematic and continuous process through which the executives learn advanced knowledge and skills in managing.
The types of executive development methods are categorized into on-the-job and off-the-job methods. The on-the-job methods include job rotation, coaching/under-study, and action learning.
The off-the-job methods include management games, which have the problem-solving and analytical capabilities, outside seminars in technical as well as interpersonal areas, role playing to expose the managers to realistic situations and develop their skills, behaviour modelling for exposing the managers to the right way of doing things, letting them practice those practices, and more importantly, giving feedback on their performance during the practice.
In the words of Michael Armstrong, “Executive development is eventually something that the executive has to attain himself. But he will do this much better if he is given encouragement, guidance and opportunity by his company”.
The methods and techniques of executive development can be studied under the following heads:- 1. On the Job Methods 2. Off the Job Methods.
Some of the on the job methods of executive development are:-
1. Coaching 2. Job Rotation 3. Under Study 4. Multiple Management 5. Selected Readings 6. Committee’s Assignments 7. Project Assignments 8. Position Rotation and 9. Selected Readings.
Some of the off the job methods of executive development are:-
1. Lectures 2. Case Studies 3. Conference Method 4. Group Discussion 5. Role Playing 6. In-Basket Method 7. Management Games 8. Programmed Instruction 9. Sensitivity Training 10. Professional Courses and 11. Executive Training.
On the Job and Off the Job Training Methods of Executive Development
Executive Development Methods – 2 Broad Categories: On the Job and Off the Job Methods
The types of executive development methods are categorized into on-the-job and off-the-job methods. The on-the-job methods include job rotation, coaching/under-study, and action learning. Job rotation involves movement of the management trainees/managers from one department to another, in order to familiarize them to various facets/functions/departments of the organization.
It also helps to develop an in-depth knowledge about the various businesses and processes of the organization. In coaching/understudy, the junior manager is placed under the guidance of a senior manager who continuously coaches and provides counselling for developing the junior executives for assuming higher responsibilities.
Action learning involves the full-time involvement of managers who are assigned to work on specific projects or problems. This helps the managers develop the capability of undertaking and completing a project and also solving the problems, which enhances their managerial and leadership capabilities.
The off-the-job methods include management games, which have the problem- solving and analytical capabilities, outside seminars in technical as well as interpersonal areas, role playing to expose the managers to realistic situations and develop their skills, behaviour modelling for exposing the managers to the right way of doing things, letting them practice those practices, and more importantly, giving feedback on their performance during the practice.
There are several methods of executive development.
They can be broadly classified into two categories as follows:
Method # 1. On-the-Job:
On-the-job training methods or techniques are most suitable when the purpose is to improve on-the-job behaviour of the executives. Such training is economical and time-saving. The motivation to learn in such techniques is very high because training takes place not in an artificial place like a class room but in real job situation.
On-the-job methods or techniques are very useful for certain groups like scientific and technical executives. However, though they appear to be economical, they may turn out to be costly when wastages of all types under these training methods are taken into account.
The various methods or techniques of on-the-job training are briefly described below:
Coaching is a method of training under which the trainee is placed under a particular supervisor who, acting as a coach or teacher or instructor, teachers job skills and knowledge to the trainee. The couch or counsellor tells the trainee what he wants him to do, how it can be done and follows up when it is being done by the trainee and corrects any errors committed by the trainee.
Coaching method offers several advantages viz. – (i) It is learning by doing, (ii) It can be undertaken even during the routine work, when no particular development programme exists, (iii) Periodic feedback and evaluation can be undertaken in this method, (iv) It is very useful for training of new executives and for developing operative skills and knowledge, (v) It requires close interaction between the coach and the trainee.
Coaching method however suffers from certain disadvantages viz. – (i) It tends to encourage the existing styles and practices to continue, (ii) It requires the superior to be a good teacher and a guide which is difficult to find, (iii) The training environment in this method will not be free from the daily routine tension and worries, (iv) The trainee may not find sufficient time to learn and improve.
According to Stephen P. Robbins, coaching becomes effective only if the coach is a good communicator, a noble motivator and a patient listener. Coaching will work well – (a) if the coach provides a good model with whom the trainee can identify, (b) if both the trainee and coach can be open with each other, (c) if the coach accepts his responsibility fully, and (d) if the coach provides the trainee with recognition of his improvement and suitable rewards.
ii. Job Rotation:
Job rotation involves transfer of executives from one job to another, and from one department to another in a systematic and planned manner. The primary aim of job rotation is to broaden the knowledge skills and outlook of the executives. Job-rotation may continue for a period of six months to two years. In the words of W. E. Bennet, “Job-rotation is a process of horizontal movement that widens the manager’s experience horizon beyond the limited confines of his own”.
There are several advantages of job rotation technique viz. (i) It reduces monotony and boredom by providing variety of work (ii) It facilitates cooperation and coordination between various departments of the organisation, (iii) It provides a chance to the executives to move up to higher positions by developing their personalities, (iv) It enables the management to make use of the executives’ skills and knowledge to the fullest possible extent.
However, job-rotation method suffers from the following disadvantages viz. –
(i) It is likely to create disturbance in the well-set up relations.
(ii) It would be difficult for the trainee to adjust himself frequently in the new positions to which he has been transferred,
(iii) It is likely to create jealousy and friction because of the game of musical chairs. Frequent transfers cause class distinction and misunderstanding and uneasy feelings among the executives,
(iv) Frequent transfers to different geographical areas are likely to upset family and personal life of the executives who may not be able to put in best of their will and effort in their jobs,
(v) Job rotation is likely to discourage intelligent and efficient trainees who prefer specific place and specific responsibility in their chosen specialisation.
According to Dale S. Beach, “An understudy is a person who is in training to assume at a future time, the full responsibility of the position currently held by his superior”. This technique prepares a person with as much competence as the superior to his post which is likely to fall vacant due to promotion, transfer or retirement.
The advantages of this method are several viz. (i) The trainee gets continuous guidance from his superior so as get full knowledge of the job. (ii) It helps the trainee to learn by doing his job and hence it is economical and time-saving, (iii) It helps to maintain close contact between the junior and his senior, (iv) It ensures continuity of management when the superior is promoted or transferred or leaves the job on retirement.
There are some disadvantages of understudy method viz. (i) It perpetuates the same old managerial practices, (ii) It demotivates other employees when a particular junior is trained in advance to take up higher position, (iii) The understudy may not have any freedom of thought and action when his senior is overbearing and predominant.
(iv) The subordinate staff are likely to ignore the understudy and treat him as an intruder without specific authority and responsibility. The success of this method depends upon the teaching skills and cooperation from the superiors as well as the subordinates of the understudy.
iv. Multiple Management:
Under this method, a board consisting of young junior executives is constituted. It is called Junior Board of Executives System. It discusses the actual problems and different alternative solutions and makes its recommendations to the Board of Directors for its final consideration and approval.
The advantages of this method are as follows – (i) The young juniors get an opportunity to acquire knowledge of various aspects of business, (ii) The junior board helps to increase the productivity and human relations in the organisation, (iii) It is relatively an inexpensive method of training executives, (iv) It helps in developing a considerable number of executives in a short period of time.
However, this method suffers from certain advantages – (i) There is no scope here for providing specific attention to the development needs of the executives, (ii) This method cannot be applied to the lower level executives, (iii) The discussions and recommendations of the junior board is likely to degenerate into academic debates.
v. Project Assignments:
Under this method, a group of trainee executives is assigned a particular project directly related to their functional area. The group known as project team or task force will study the problems and find suitable solutions to these problem. For example- accounts officers may be assigned the task of designing and developing an effective budgetary control system. It is a flexible system of training because of its temporary nature of assignments.
vi. Committee Assignment:
A permanent committee consisting of trainee executives is formed. The trainee executives take part in the committee meetings and discuss about various viewpoints and alternative problem-solving methods. They also learn interpersonal skills.
vii. Selected Readings:
The management supplies various professional books and journals to the trainee executives so as to enable them to learn so many new things and add to their knowledge and skills a number of innovations in management.
Method # 2. Off-the-Job:
Since on-the-job methods or techniques of executive development have their own limitations, of-the-job techniques have been recommended to fill the gaps.
These techniques are described below:
Lecture method is the simplest of all the techniques. It is considered as the best method of presenting and explaining series of facts, concepts, principles, attitudes, problem-solving skills etc. and imparting knowledge to several persons at a time. It is used to introduce a subject to reduce anxiety about the upcoming training programmes or organisational changes, to present basic material providing a common background and to illustrate the application of rules and regulations.
The advantages of lecture method are as follows:
(a) It can be used to teach to several persons at a time.
(b) It is a time-saving and economical method of imparting knowledge.
(c) It presents the overview and scope of the subject very clearly.
However, the lecture method suffers from the following disadvantages:
(a) It is a one-way communication, as there is no participation and feedback from the trainees,
(b) The trainees lose attention quickly as they are only passive listeners. The emphasis is on accumulation and memorization instead of on application of knowledge.
(c) The lectures become bore and unpalatable to the trainees when the lectures contain too much information,
(d) It requires lot of preparation and speaking skill for which the teacher executives generally lack time,
(e) The material to be presented will have to be geared to a common level of knowledge.
ii. Case-Study Method:
Under this method, a real or hypothetical business problem is posed to the trainers and the trainees are asked to solve the problem in the most appropriate way. They are also guided by the trainers in such way that they can find out the best solution. This method was developed at Harvard Business School, USA.
A variant of case study method was developed at MIT, USA by Paul Pigors. It aims at developing the trainees in the areas of intellectual ability practical judgement and social awareness. In this method, only an outline of a situation rather than its full details is given to the trainees who are asked to find out information required and try to get the same from the trainer through questions.
The advantages of case study method are as follows – (i) It promotes analytical thinking and problem-solving skills among the trainees. (ii) It encourages open mindedness. (iii) It enables the trainees to be aware of managerial concepts and processes and to apply them to specific situations, (iv) It also enables the trainees to be aware of obscurities, contradictions and uncertainties involved in business.
But this method suffers from the following disadvantages, viz. (i) It is time-consuming and expensive, (ii) It is likely to suppress the critical faculties of mediocre trainees, (iii) It is likely to degenerate into a dreary history suppressing analytical reasoning, (iv) it is likely to be indiscriminately used as permanent precedents.
A conference is a meeting of several persons to discuss problems of common interest. Each participant in the conference contributes his own ideas towards the solution of problems. It is best suited when the problem has to be analysed and examined from different points of view.
The success of the conference depends upon several factors such as free and frank discussion among the participants, absence of domination by a few participants, relevant discussion on the concerned problems efficiency of the leader of the conference etc.
iv. Group Discussion:
It is a variant of lecture method. It is known as seminar or conference. Under this method, a critical discussion takes place among the participants on a paper containing a selected topic submitted by one of more trainees. The chairman of the group summarises the contents of paper and discussions follow afterwards.
Generally the material to be discussed is distributed to the participants in advance. This method helps the executive-participants to learn from the experiences of each other and it has become quite popular.
v. Role Playing:
In this method, two or more trainees will be asked to assume the role of particular person before others. There will be interaction between the role players and the rest of the participants. Role playing primarily involves employer-employee relationships discussing a grievance procedure, conducting a post appraisal interview or disciplining a subordinate etc.
Role-playing is a useful method of developing interpersonal or human relations skills. If helps to bring about desired changes in the attitudes and behaviour of the participants. Trainees learn here by doing and by quick feedback. The degree of learning is high because the participants learn by observing and listening. Role playing involves a simulation a creating an environment which will be similar to real work situation.
vi. In-Basket Method:
This method is based on simulation. In this method, the trainee is provided with a basket as trey containing papers and files relating to his functional area. He is required to carefully study these papers and pass his own remarks or observations on the problem situation. The observations of different trainees are compared and conclusions are arrived afterwards. Then they are put down in the form of a report.
vii. Management Games:
This method is also based on simulation. Under this method, the trainees are divided into different groups or teams. Each group or team has to discus and arrive at decisions relating to such matters as production, pricing, research, advertising, etc. on the assumption that each group or team itself is the management or the firm.
The other groups act as competitors of the firm and react to the decisions. Thus each team’s immediate feedback to the decisions of others enables the management to know the relative performance of each team. The co-operation between the teams helps to promote great interaction among the participants and gives them the experience of cooperative efforts.
viii. Programmed Instruction:
This method provides some specific skills or general knowledge which has been pre-arranged. Such information is broken into meaningful units, so that all the units constitute a logical and sequential package. Each package is built upon the earlier ones and knowledge is imparted to the trainees with the help of text books or teaching machines. The package is in the form of questions along with necessary information and the trainees have to answer immediately.
ix. Sensitivity Training:
This method is also knows as T-Group training or laboratory training. The aim of such training is to create self-awareness, develop inter-personal competence and sharpen teamwork skills among the trainees, who are brought together in a free and open environment to discuss themselves and express their ideas, beliefs and attitudes.
Executive Development Methods – On-the-Job and Off-the-Job Methods Used to Develop Executives for their Quantitative and Qualitative Performance
There are different on-the-job and off-the-job methods that are being used to develop executives for their quantitative and qualitative performance.
Some of the important methods are discussed below:
(A) On-the-Job Methods:
In this method, a supervisor or designated senior imparts job knowledge and skills to the trainees. It is a process of learning by doing. It facilitates inter-action, feedback, instant evaluation and correction required for improving performance of the trainee. Lack of time and coaching ability of the supervisor senior will hamper effectiveness of training.
It is a powerful training tool, at all levels of management. Delegation of authority gives the juniors the confidence and zeal to take the right decision on time and to execute their duties and responsibilities effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, it helps to achieve end results.
iii. Under Study:
Under this method, the trainee is assigned as an assistant to the supervisor. The supervisor closely watches over the trainee while doing the assigned job and helps him to perform it better. It develops competent successors to senior executives under whom the trainee is assigned. It facilitates continuous guidance from the supervisor and develops practical exposure and leadership quality of the trainee.
iv. Position Rotation:
Job or position rotation means moving managers from one department to another. It gives them a broad understanding and exposure to various functions of the organization. It also enables them to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the company. It reduces monotony and boredom of doing the same work for a long time and improves collaborative work, broadens outlook and creates diversified skills of the executives.
Being a member of a committee helps the managers to learn different disciplines from other members of the team. This enables them to have the relevant insights and get to know the kind of decisions to be made in different situations.
vi. Project Assignment:
A group of trainees are assigned to work on a project related to their functional area. The members work as a team in identifying and solving problems. It facilitates team work.
vii. Multiple Management:
Under this method, trainees from junior advisory boards provide solutions to the Board of Directors after a careful study about it. It helps in identifying managerial talent and collective decision-making. It provides knowledge and skills in various functional areas of the organization. It is not suitable for low level managers due to lack of commitment on the part of trainees.
viii. Selected Readings:
The trainees are asked to read and update their knowledge from specific books and journals. Most of the practicing managers prefer this method. It is convenient and cost effective.
(B) Off-the-Job Methods:
Large number of trainees can simultaneously take part in a presentation. It provides lots of job information and conceptual knowledge to large number of trainees, quickly. The effectiveness of their training relies on the trainer and the involvement of the trainees. However, it may not help a technical hands-on skills.
ii. Case Studies:
This method of executive development facilitates classroom group discussion to identify problems, its implications and to arrive at possible solutions. An actual situation given in a written form for critical analysis is called case study. It improves the analytical and decision-making skills of the executives. A good case is the vehicle by which a chunk of reality is brought into the classroom to be discussed to find the reasons for problems and evolve a suitable solution for it.
iii. Group Discussion:
Under this method, each trainee is asked to prepare and present a paper on a specific topic. After presentation the floor is opened for critical discussion and review. It enables the trainees to develop oratory and presentation skills but, it is time consuming.
This method enables the trainees to hear experts delivering talks on specific topics and helps the participants interact and get their doubts clarified. It facilitates trainees to solve specific problems and is suitable for professionals in a specialized trade. Mutual problems form the subject of discussion in a conference. Participants share their ideas and expertise in attempting to arrive at improved solutions to deal with these problems. More trainees can participate at a time. Electronic and electrical gadgets can be used to make the teaching and learning process more interesting.
v. Role Playing:
In this method, the trainees are assigned with different roles and asked to act out as if they are in reality. It helps in understanding the behavioural patterns of people and to develop better interpersonal relationships, negotiating and selling skills.
vi. Management Games:
It is a simulation technique that involves different teams each of which is given a hypothetical situation to work for a given period of time. It is a dynamic training exercise simulating a real business situation. In these games, participants are divided into various teams which are placed in competition with each other in resolving some problem information which is supplied to all teams.
vii. In-Basket Exercises:
This is another form of simulation, in which each trainee is given a short span of time to deal with several problems. The trainees handling the same problem will meet to know the logic behind the problems. It helps the trainees to develop situational judgment skills. This is another technique of simulation.
viii. Sensitivity Training:
This method is also called as T-group training, laboratory training, and executive action. This deals with the problem existing within the T-group in reality and is not simulated. This helps the participants in understanding themselves and others, the emotions involved and to know how they react in different situations.
ix. Programmed Instructions:
This training method is used to teach the trainees, behavioural and non-motor skills. The subject matter is prepared and arranged in a logical and sequential manner for the trainees to understand and follow better. The trainer monitors the trainees while they are working on the instructions. The advantage of this method is that the trainees get the immediate feedback from the trainer. The negatives of the method are that it is expensive and time consuming.
x. Professional Courses:
Managers and executives are encouraged to undergo professional courses in reputed business schools and universities to learn new concepts and enhance their knowledge for better performance. According to their area of specialization they may do a degree, diploma and certificate courses to update knowledge.
xi. Executive Training:
Professional institutions provide training on several areas at different times enabling the managers and executives to undergo any preferred training programme according to their own convenience at different times. They do conduct training on time management, soft-skills, team building, etc.
Executive Development Methods – 2 Important Techniques: On the Job Development and Off the Job Development
Method # 1. On the Job Development Techniques:
The main feature of all on-the-job techniques is to increase the ability of the executives to work while performing their duties. They aim at exposing the trainees to the real work situation. Generally, support is provided by immediate superior in the conduct of these development programs.
(a) On the Job Coaching:
In this method, the immediate superior guides the subordinate about various ways and methods and skills to do the job. Here, it is important to note that the superior only guides and does not teach, although he extends his assistance whenever needed. Periodic feedback and evaluation are also the part of the coaching activity. Merits of this method lie in the fact that it provides real and practical job experience to the trainee.
The objective of coaching is not only to teach the subordinate the necessary skills for doing his assignment but also to provide him with diversified knowledge so that he may grow and advance.
Coaching should be distinguished from counselling which involves discussion between a superior and his subordinate of areas concerned with the latter’s fears, emotions and aspirations. It reaches into very personal and delicate matters. In many cases, the superior has to play the role of both coach and counsellor.
The main advantage of on-the-job coaching is increased motivation for the trainee and minimisation of the problems of transferring learning from theory to practice. The danger in this method is the possible neglect by the guide or supervisor. Thus, as a development technique, it cannot stand alone.
It is primarily a device for ensuring that individuals grow within the boundaries set by their jobs and their organisational units. The man cannot develop much beyond the limits of his own boss’s abilities. Coaching works best when other techniques of development are used along with it.
In case of understudy, an executive is developed to perform the work or fill the position of his superior. He is a trainee who at a future time will assume the duties and responsibilities of the position currently held by his immediate superior when the latter separates from the job because of transfer, promotion, resignation, retirement, etc.
Understudy technique is similar to on-the-job coaching with the difference that the department manager may pick one individual from his unit to become his understudy. He will then guide him to learn his job and grapple with the problems that confront the manager dally. An understudy can be developed to take over the superior’s job in a number of ways.
When the superior is handling his daily operating problems, he may discuss these with his understudy to get his ideas and give him experience of decision making. He may also assign the understudy to investigate and make written recommendations upon long-term problems. The understudy may even be asked to directly supervise a number of people at work. This will give him an opportunity to try out his leadership skills.
The major advantage of this method is that it ensures the ready supply of competent people whenever the vacancy arises due to promotion, transfer, retirement or resignation of the present occupant of the position. This method has built-in motivation because it is considered a step towards promotion of the trainee.
This method is advantageous for the boss and the organisation also. It relieves the boss of some of his workload by delegating some portion of his work to the understudy. To the organisation, it ensures that it will not be placed at a serious disadvantage if the executive suddenly leaves his job. The understudy will be in a position to hold that position.
(c) Job or Position Rotation:
Job rotation consists of a systematic and co-ordinated effort to transfer an executive from one job to another at regular intervals to make him gain wide experience. The executive is given all the normal duties and responsibilities which go along with the job to which he is transferred.
This method broadens the outlook of the executive in as much as he comes to appreciate the problems faced by other functional managers, plants, departments, etc.
Job rotation serves to bring the feeling of superiority of one department over the others. When a number of executives have served in each other’s department, they can also understand the reasons why a certain function must be done in a particular way. Thus, inter-departmental cooperation will be enhanced. Job rotation injects new ideas into the different departments of the organisation.
Under, this system, an executive is not destined to end up in just one post but is equipped to step into any one of the several executive posts in various functional divisions. The trainee will learn the nature and significance of management principles by transferring learning from one job to another.
Here, again, the training takes place in a practical situation. This technique can stimulate a more co-operative attitude by exposing a man to the problems and viewpoints of others.
The system of job rotation is not free from drawbacks. Productive work may suffer due to disruption caused by changes and limitations of individuals to adjust to new job. So it is better to lengthen the interval of rotation and to rotate fewer personnel at a time.
The executive can’t gain specialised knowledge in one particular branch of work during a short span of time. Job rotation may undermine the morale and efficiency of the executives transferred as their family life may be disturbed and they may find it difficult to adjust at the new place.
(d) Project Assignment:
Under this method, a trainee may be assigned a project that is closely related to the objectives of his department. For instance, a trainee may be assigned to develop a system of cost control in the execution of an order. The trainee will study the problem, collect and analyse data and make recommendations upon it.
This project would also help in educating the trainee the importance of cost and to understand the organisational relationships between the accounting and other departments. Thus, the trainee acquires the knowledge of allied subjects also.
(e) Multiple Management or Junior Board:
This method involves the establishment of a junior Board of Directors in the company for the training of selected executives. The junior board is given the power to discuss any problem which the senior board (constituted by the shareholders) should discuss.
The greatest value of the junior board is the training of middle level executives. Who are in the que for promotion? Membership of the junior board becomes a pre-requisite to the membership of the senior board.
This method has the advantages of being relatively inexpensive, developing teamwork and group decision-making among managers, enabling the managers to see the problems from the organisational rather than departmental or functional point of view.
(f) Committee Assignment:
A committee is a group of executives appointed to investigate, take action, make recommendations regarding some matter relating to the organisation. The committee studies the problem or issue in accordance with the terms of reference. For example, a committee may be set up to analyse the feasibility of introducing a new product.
This committee may have persons from finance department, engineering department, research and development department, etc. The committee will study the question of feasibility of new product from all the angles and make recommendations. If the committee is in staff capacity, its recommendations may be turned down by the higher management. But if it is in line capacity, it would take action also on whatever it finds prudent.
A committee is an excellent means of training. The trainee is placed on a committee which is constituted to make recommendations on a particular problem. Through discussions and deliberations in committee meetings, the trainee becomes acquainted with the different view-points and acquires a wider perspective.
This method of training may speed up the development of executives provided the committee does not become a battle ground or is not dominated by a few individuals. In short, this method of training has all the advantages which could be availed through the method of multiple management or junior board.
Method # 2. Off the Job Development Techniques:
The focus in off-the-job methods of development is to improve general behavioural and decision-making skills of the executives. In contrast to the on-the- job methods, off-the-job methods do not contain such a heavy dose of reference to the particular job. They are relatively more general.
These methods are discussed below:
(a) Role Playing:
Role playing may be described as a technique of creating a life situation, usually one involving conflict between people, and then having persons in a group play the parts or roles of specific personalities. In industry, it is used primarily as a technique for modifying attitudes and interpersonal skills.
Typically, the situation is structured by setting forth the facts of the situation, the event that led upto present situation and other relevant information.
The individuals are then designated to play the roles of persons in the situation described. For instance, two trainees may play the roles of a superior and a subordinate to discuss the latter’s grievances.
The purpose of role playing is to aid trainees to understand certain problems and to enable observers to evaluate trainees’ role performance. Role playing is generally used for human relations and sales training. This technique makes trainees self- conscious and imaginative and analytical of their own behaviour.
(b) Sensitivity Training:
Sensitivity or T-group training is an important technique of “laboratory training”. The main objective of sensitivity training is the development of awareness and sensitivity to one’s own behavioural pattern through interactions with others. The sensitivity training program is absolutely unstructured.
The trainer initially explains the technique to the participants and informs them that the purpose is to increase their awareness about themselves and others and to know each other’s feelings and reactions in a group setting. He makes clear his own role which is to be helpful. He will neither act as a leader nor will there be any agenda.
Sensitivity training virtually establishes a situation in which the trainee learns himself.
Sensitivity training is so informal and unstructured as compared to role playing that the trainee gets no guidance or instruction whatsoever about how to proceed. The trainer is a moderator who provides feedback so that each trainee may know what others think about him.
(c) Conference Training:
A conference is a group meeting conducted according to an organised plan in which the participants seek to develop knowledge and understanding by obtaining a considerable amount of oral participation. It is an effective training device for persons in the positions of both conference member and conference leader.
As a member, a person can learn from others by comparing his opinions with those of others. He learns to respect the viewpoints of others and to realise that there is more than one workable approach to a problem. As a conference leader, a person can develop his skill to motivate people through his direction of discussion. He learns the effects of closely controlling and dominating the discussion as compared to adopting a more permissive type of direction.
The conference method overcomes certain disadvantages of the lecture method because here the participants play active role. They are not passive. Learning is facilitated through building upon the ideas contributed by the conference members.
In fact, people learn from each other. Interest of the participants tends to be high. The conference is ideally suited to learning about problems and issues and examining them from different angles. It is the best method for reducing dogmatism employed in supervisory and executive development programs.
The conference method is not free from drawbacks. The main drawback is that the progress at the conference is often slow because all those desiring to speak on a point are generally allowed to do so. Sometimes, irrelevant issues creep in and the main issue is lost in the process.
(d) Programmed Instruction:
Programmed instruction (sometimes packaged in a device called a teaching machine) was developed in the late 1950’s for both school and industrial applications. Cook and Mechner have defined programmed instruction as the application of the science of learning to the task of education and training.
The key features of programmed learning are:
(i) The trainees learn at their own pace;
(ii) The instructors are not a key part of the learning;
(iii) The material to be learnt is broken down into very small units or stages;
(iv) Each step logically builds upon those that have preceded it;
(v) The student is given immediate knowledge of results for each answer he gives; and
(vi) There is active participation by the learner at each step in the program.
The core feature of programmed instruction is participation by the trainee and immediate feedback to him. The programmed instruction includes elaborate teaching machines, films, sound tapes, programmed books, illustrations, printed material, and diagrams. Whatever may be the method of programmed instructions, it basically provides feedback to the learner whether his response is correct or not.
These days, programs have been devised which take into account individual differences in background. If a student is unable to give the right answer to a question or a series of questions, he will be directed along a different branch of the program to provide him with the fundamentals he has missed.
(e) Simulation Development Techniques:
The basic idea behind simulation is to construct a situation which closely represents the actual one. It provides an opportunity to conduct trial or test runs under conditions that are as close to reality as feasible.
Based on empirical data, a model is constructed and then subjected to the same influences and forces that occur in actual practice. While these simulation models are not mathematical as operations research models, they are quantitative representation of the situations being studied. They include physical similarities, behavioural characteristics and interactions that would normally be present under actual conditions.
There are three basic simulation techniques:
(i) Business Games,
(ii) In-Basket, and
(iii) Case Study.
(i) Business Games:
A business or management game has been described as a dynamic training exercise utilizing a model of business situation. It is essentially a group exercise in sequential decision-making under simulated organisational conditions.
(ii) “In-Basket” Training:
This technique emphasises the necessity for skills in decision-making and ability to differentiate the significant from the important. The trainee is presented with a situation where he must take over for a manager who is absent. He is provided with an in-basket full of materials with which he must deal.
These materials may be phone calls, meetings, complaints to handle, orders to make and other demands which supposedly duplicate the tasks he would face, if he were holding such a position. This may require a list of priorities.
After the session is completed, the trainer and the trainee meet to discuss and evaluate the trainee’s performance. Similar techniques may have men working together as a group. Same strong and weak points that are applicable for business games are applicable here also.
(iii) Case Study Method:
The typical case study used for training is a thorough description of some events that actually occurred in an organisation. Usually it involves some problem that has to be solved. The trainees read the case and present alternative solutions or lines of action. These suggestions may then be discussed where the individual is able to obtain information about how others viewed the case.
The case study method is one of reasoning and analysis of facts to find an answer. The trainee learns to face facts and appreciate other’s viewpoint. This method increases the learner’s power of observation and allows him to look from a broader angle. It discourages snap judgments. The success of this method depends largely upon the ability of the instructor.
A poorly conducted discussion may degenerate into a rambling session from which the participants derive no learning. It is a simple and interesting method. Actual incidents may be used. A well-chosen case may promote objective discussion but no basic change takes place in the behaviour and attitude of the trainee in the absence of emotional involvement.
Case studies are extensively used in teaching law, human resource management, human relations, marketing management and business policy in various educational institutions. Students learn that there is no single solution to a particular problem.
The answer of each trainee may differ. Case discussions will help them to appreciate each other’s thinking. That is why, case study is frequently used in supervisory and executive training in business.
Under this technique, the trainees are actively involved. They are encouraged to consider a variety of alternatives and to explore different approaches to solve the problem.