After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Employee Training 2. Steps in Effective Training 3. Training Methods 4. Employee Development.
Training is an integral part of the staffing function. It refers to improving a person’s ability to do a particular job and to contribute to organisational goals. After selecting a candidate, managers have to assess the new person’s ability to do the job. In other words, after an individual is chosen for hiring or promotion, the next step is often some form of training.
In human resource management, the term ‘training’ usually refers to teaching operational or technical employees how to do the job for which they were hired. Development refers to teaching managers and professionals the skills needed for both present and future jobs. Most organisations provide regular development programmes for managers.
Assessment of Training Needs:
It is of paramount importance to determine whether a need for training or development exists and then to plan an appropriate programme if it is needed. Various problems arise at the workplace which are due to low labour productivity such as lack of motivation, ageing equipment, poor supervision, inefficient work design, or a deficiency of skills and knowledge. Only the last could be remedied by training the office workers.
If, after careful investigation, the problem does seem to require training, the personnel manager should thoroughly assess the present level of skill and knowledge and then define the desired level of skill and knowledge in concrete, measurable form.
After the training is completed, trainee performance can be assessed against the objectives that were set prior to training. Training programmes should always be evaluated, because they are costly and should be modified or discontinued if they are not effective. The training process from start to finish is presented in Fig. 11.9.
In most technical jobs new people with little or no experience are assigned to training programmes that prepare them to do their jobs. In short, training supplies the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed by individuals or groups to improve their abilities to perform their present jobs. Even people with considerable experience in other industries (companies) are trained up properly before they start doing a new job.
A Continuous Process:
Training is no doubt a continuous process. Training is used not only to give employees skills or to the level necessary to perform a new job; as the jobs change or as an employee demonstrates the need for additional skills, more training is provided.
In fact, from time to time, performance failures dictate that managers assign current employees to training programmes to improve their job knowledge, skills and future performance. The most fundamental point is that training prepares an organisation’s work force for various changes that may occur in the industry.
Companies support training programmes to get results. Top executives are usually interested in specific things that provide greater rewards to the employee, increased return to the shareholders and create reinvestment needs of the business.
In other words, they are interested in those things which affect the ‘bottom line’. Training can always be evaluated. As people improve their performance it is reflected in on-the-job results.
Management training has become a costly exercise of late. Organisational people are now being introduced to the latest techniques and applications such as time management, stress management and negotiating skills and updating obsolete managerial techniques. This, no doubt, improves overall organisational effectiveness and prepare middle managers for advancement.
Steps in Effective Employee Training:
The following steps are involved in an effective training programme:
i. Determining training needs:
Training needs are based on future plans and the skills needed to reach them, analysis of specific job needs and an assessment of the performance of people and whether or not their performance can be improved.
ii. Defining training objectives:
Identify what the person should be able to do following the training programme.
iii. Defining abilities and interests of people selected for training:
To some extent, training programmes should be designed to fit individual needs.
iv. Selecting appropriate trainers and training methods:
Arguably, the person doing the training is the single most important element. Like any teacher, trainers who can speak and write well are organised and can organise the work of others are creative can motive others and those who have a good grasp of the subject matter are the most effective. Managers have many options in training methods. These may now be discussed.
Employee Training Methods:
Management can employ various training methods or can select from a wide variety of methods. However, the particular technique or method used is not very important. Training has to be matched with the needs of the organisation, the managers, the jobs and the person being trained.
The selection of a particular method or methods depends on many considerations but perhaps the most important is training content. When the training content is factual material (such as company rules or how to fill out forms), than assigned reading, programmed learning and lecture methods work well.
However, when the context is human relations or group decision-making, firms must obviously use a method that allows interpersonal contact, such as role playing or case discussion groups. Moreover, as Griffin has pointed out: “When a physical skill is to be learned, methods allowing practice and actual use of tools and materials are needed, as in on-the-job training or vestibule training”.
Other factors to consider in selecting a training method are cost, time, number of trainees and whether the training is to be done by in-house talent or contracted to by an outside training firm”. Table 11.5 lists the major training methods which are normally used by professional companies.
A person can be trained in class room and then asked to join the work force. So during the training period he is off the job and does not make any direct contribution to the company.
However, the most celebrated method is on-the-job training (OJT). It is perhaps the most widely used method. In this case the person is trained while the job is being performed; one learns about the job by watching a fellow-worker. The trainee is taken to the job site and instructed in work methods by the manager or by skilled (experience) employees.
Such training is quite appropriate for relatively unskilled jobs but is not that satisfactory when mistakes can damage machinery, hold up other operations, or cause anger to customers. Most of these problems can be eliminated by making on-the-job training more systematic.
The job instruction training (JFT) system, developed during World War II and refined and modified later, attempts to do this. Basically, it involves training managers and supervisors, who, in their turn, train the people at the shop floor level (i.e., people doing the work).
OJT also works well for technical specialists like the computer programmers. The various types of skills needed by these jobs require the application, of techniques to specialised problems and training in best imparted by doing the actual work.
Another method is vestibule training, also known as simulation training. It seeks to improve a person’s skills under controlled (artificial) conditions that simulate actual work: a simulated work environment is created; the trainee is placed in the environment to train without any pressure (e.g., the need to meet production figures).
For many service jobs where a number of people doing the same kind of work need to be trained such as those of bank tellers or insurance claim adjusters, programmed instruction methods are used. This method is directed toward improving a person’s skills through a step-by-step sequence that is designed to build gradually the necessary work skills by teaching one part of the job at a time.
The final training method is modeling training. It is a form of OJT. It refers to coaching of the employee by the supervisor. It has achieved considerable success in recent years.
Coaching has the following basic steps:
1. Discussion of the process by the supervisor.
2. Demonstration of the task by the supervisor.
3. Individual performance by the trainee.
4. Feedback following the performance.
People are trained by observing and practising the correct skills with their immediate supervisor in a controlled experiment, getting insights into the behaviour that lead to improved performance.
It is an informal, one-to-one teaching correspondence (relationship) between the manager and the employee. Modeling training is used extensively to train managers and to correct poor work habits on the job.
In other words, it has twin goals:
(1) To identify and encourage a positive performance and
(2) To identify and remove barriers to negative performance. Modelling training is perhaps the most effective training method used in the world today.
In a typical modelling training session, a common problem is placed before a group of people. They briefly discuss why the problem is to be treated as important and how it affects their performance. The training actually involves learning how to solve the problems.
The most important point to be said in favour of modelling training is that it incorporates all of the ideas an effective training programme should have.
The following quote from C. R. Anderson is quite relevant in this context:
“It deals with specific work problems and puts much of the responsibility for training directly on the people who must learn. In a sense, managers train themselves, but with guidance. It also gives trainers the tools and techniques needed for teaching. The skills that are learned can be directly applied to the job. Finally, modelling training can help determine whether new people are suited to their jobs. Although training can never be a substitute for good selection (getting people with good potential is always necessary), effective training programmes like modelling should help determine where that potential is best directed.”
Development refers to preparing an employee for the future so that he (she) can be fit for a fairly well-defined job at a higher level. Employee development programmes get people ready for their and the organisation’s futures. There is an important difference between training and development. Training is often conducted with the organisation by internal people (e.g., the training officer).
On the other hand, employee development activities are usually carried out outside the company by external professionals. An example of development programme is sending a person to a management seminar or workshop conducted by a university, a government agency, or an industry or trade association.
If the company reimburses the tuition fee for such a programme, it encourages employees (especially junior and middle level executives) to seek higher levels of formal education.
The major advantage of employee development programme is that it exposes people to skills, knowledge and attitudes that will be helpful to them in higher position. However, efforts toward development often depend on the personal drive and ambition of the candidate. Such efforts are not limited to company inventories of necessary skills or persons possessing them.
For individuals development activities such as management training programme may be voluntary or compulsory, depending on the nature and philosophy of the organisation. But in all cases they help participants to prepare for promotion into management cadre or to upgrade existing management skills.
In most progressive organisations, as one goes higher in management ladder, one gets more and more opportunities for development programmes. Some companies offer their executives one year paid leave to enable them to acquire management degrees such as MBA. Others nm their own training and development centres, staffed in part with visiting professors and company managers.
Other development programmes are also offered by modern companies. One such programme is job rotation. It provides the opportunity for an employee to do a variety of jobs in a work centre or in the organisation and thus enables the person concerned to develop an understanding of the interrelationship of activities and an overview of the work unit or organisation.
According to Plunkett and Attner:
“internship, apprenticeships or assistantship allow the individual to observe the work, raise questions and emulate the practices of the incumbents.”
To sum up: Training and development programmes seek to meet the organisation’s need for people. Both are directed toward improving the performance of individuals and, through it, that of organisations. They reward ambition and act as incentives for a greater security, to reach a higher level of job satisfaction and to enhance confidence and self-esteem. Organisations that spend the time, money and effort to develop and sponsor (or conduct) training and development programmes stand a strong chance of being rewarded with a growing pool of talent available for greater responsibilities and capable of better achievements.
While training is job-specific, development is career-specific. In this section we describe various types of career development programmes and effective developmental interviews.
Career counseling, advising the individual about his career possibilities and career progression is the first major type of career development programme. It can occur at various times, including the employment hiring interview, a career-counselling training programme and the performance appraisal interview. This counselling is used not only with employees whose potential is high but also with those who are likely to be devoted.
A career path is a series of jobs through which an individual will proceed if performance remains high and organisational positions open up. Sometimes career paths involve job rotation, moving an individual through a series of jobs temporarily so that he becomes acquainted with the overall activities of major subsystems or the entire organisation. Whatever the approach, the use of career paths allows the individual to acquire the necessary experience for future jobs.
Many large organisations now employ a human resources file, a computerized inventory of backgrounds and skills that management uses to identify individuals capable of performing the activities in a vacated position.
Many training programmes focus on development activities. They address issues such as career management for women and minority group members and refresher courses for mid career managers. Several organisations even sponsor placement programmes for managers who are leaving the organisation.
In most instances these terminations occur not because of poor performance but because of organisational constraints. In our placement programmes the company provides not only career counselling but an office and salary for a specified time while manager seeks a new position.
A distinctive training programme with developmental trappings is the intern programme. Typically, a recent graduate is hired as a management trainee and for one or two years he receives specific training, some involving classroom instruction, in the various activities performed by the organisation. Intern programmes can, in fact, be more helpful for career development than a graduate degree in some fields.
At present, perhaps the most popular programme that can be used for selection or development is the assessment centre, in order to help management evaluate candidates’ managerial potential. The concept of an assessment centre was drawn from the procedures of the elite Schutzstaffel (SS) guard in Germany during the 1930s.
To select the best applicants for this military force, management put the candidates through a series of simulated exercises, group discussion sessions and extended psychological interviews. Psychologists then evaluated a person’s overall potential as an SS officer.
In recent years management has used the assessment centre both as a selection technique and a developmental programme, as its major objective is to realize person’s full potential within a specific organisation. Each centre should be tailored to the needs of the organisation sponsoring it.
Ronald Burke, William Weitzel and Tamara Weir have focused on a related issue — the characteristics of successful appraisal and developmental interviews. Their empirical studies have compared successful and unsuccessful interviews and they indicate that the following characteristics are important if the subordinate is to benefit from the appraisal or developmental interview:
A significant amount of employee participation in the programme through joint setting of goals between the superior and subordinate.
A helpful supervisor genuinely interested in the subordinates.
The removal of job problems hampering the employee’s performance.
The setting of future performance targets.
The involvement of the subordinate in planning self-development activities.
An unthreatening atmosphere.
Evaluation of Training and Development:
Training and development programmes should always be evaluated. Trainees may say they enjoyed the training and learned a lot, but the true test is whether their job performance is better after their training than before.