Important Aspects of Training, Development and Educating Employees in Organization
By: Mukhlis, SE.
The notion of the importance of training and development programs for employees has become the major concern of organizations worldwide. This occurs due to the contribution of training and development programs for the improvement of oganizational performance. Kramar, McGraw, and Schuler (1997) assert that such programs have positive impacts for the individual and organization. For individual, training program will likely increase earning and opportunities open to people, while for organisation it brings about the better performance and competitiveness. Nankervis, Compton, and Baird (2005) reveal similar perspective. They contend that although some employees have some basic of knowledge and skills in undertaking their jobs they will apparently need some sorts of training and development programs. This is aiming at maintaining an effective level of job performance so that the employees are ready to contribute much for the organization (Nankervis et al., 2005). Training and development programs will also increase employee job satisfaction which leads to better performance of workplace (Graham & Bennet, 1991). Indeed, when employees have job satisfaction due to training the acquired the performance of the organization will improve (Kiedrowski, 2006). This paper aims at exploring the practices in training and development programs for employees in organizations. The paper will present definitions, scope and types of training and development program, its benefits and drawbacks, trends in training and the extent of the organization responsibility in determining the training needs of employees.
Defining training and development
The field of training and development has not only become confused by the number of terms which describe aspects of the activity but also overlap to a considerable extent. The terms ‘training’, ‘development’, and ‘education’ are used almost interchangeably in discussions of training and development. Some writers define the terms separately as for example John (1990) who asserts that training is change in skills; education is change in knowledge; and development is change in attitudes or values. This paper, however, looks only at the terms ‘training’ and ‘development’. Nankervis et al. (2005) define ‘training’ as “any procedure initiated by an organization to foster learning among organizational members”. Knoke and Ishio (1998) advocate similar definition; that is any program that is planned in advance provided for employees to improve their skills. These two definitions depict clear contents of training, but appear to be insufficient comparing to other definitions. Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, and Wright (2003), for example, proposes that training is planned effort to facilitate the learning of job-related knowledge, skills, and behavior by employees. While all competencies in performing job are covered in this definition Kramar et. al. (1997) limit the scope with “ … a current job”.
‘Development’ on the other hand is more general than training. Nankervis, Compton, and Baird (2002) state that ‘development’ goes beyond educating workers for a particular position whether at present or future. This indicates that development programs prepare employees with learning where they acquire knowledge, skills, and behavior that improve their ability in facing challenges of existing jobs or future occupation (Noe et al., 2003).
Scope of training and development programs
According to Nankervis et al. (2005) and McCarty and Stone (1987) there are certain stages for conducting training for the employees. At the starting point of employment, a worker should have satisfactory level of competency in undertaking his job. At this step the result of training may enable the employee to perform effectively. The next stage, training should be provided for employee opportunities in acquiring new knowledge and skills so that he may be then perform better on his duty and may qualify for higher position in the organization.
Training and development methods
In improving the employees quality, organizations spend a huge amount of money each year to train their core human resources. It is estimated that organizations spend about $200 billion annually on their workforce training (Awoniyi, Griego, & Morgan, 2002). Employees usually are to undertake various kinds of training programs. In this section, it will be elaborated two forms of training regardless to location; on-the-job training and off-the-job training.
On-the-job training (OJT)
According to Samson and Daft (2003) the most common method of training is on-the-job training (OJT). In OJT, training is delivered within the normal work condition (Graham & Bennet, 1991) where experienced worker is asked to show new recruit workmate how to perform job duties (Rothwell & Kazanas, 1990). This sort of training includes induction and orientation, job rotation, and mentoring.
Induction and orientation
In recent years, organizations worldwide have put induction and orientation as the main form of training for employees. This type of training is the first step to get employee started the right path of his job (Nankervis et al., 2005). It is a formal process aiming at introducing new workers with the organization, their responsibility, and work unit (Nankervis et al., 2005; Gilbertson & Atson, 1977), learning the culture of organization and getting to know workmates (Stone, 2005; Compton & Nankervis, 1991), learning formal knowledge, regulations, principles to actual tasks, and procedures (Berman, Bowman, West, & Wart, 2006), or acquiring standards and goals of the organization (Samson & Daft, 2003). All aspects of socializing with the environment of organization are the primary knowledge and skills prior to work for new employees. Experts on organizational management have pointed out some reasons on the importance of conducting induction and orientation. Nankervis et al. (2005), for example, claim that conducting induction is beneficial both for organization and employee. They contend that such activity brings about high productivity of the organization, improves employee morale and enhances learning process. Whereas Stone (2005) claims that induction program will likely reduce employee anxieties and can minimize labour turnover. Hence, it is seen that induction program leads to short-term and long-term benefits. However, Stone (2005) reminds HR manager to plan, conduct, and evaluate such program carefully. In this concern, he refers Starcke’s point of view that:
“…orientation is likely to be more successful if it is done over a period of time so the new employee is not overloaded with information, it involves a combination of learning styles and it begins immediately” (Starcke, 1996 in Stone, 2005, p. 351).
In addition to Stone, Nankervis et al. (2002) suggest that careful planning in running induction program should emphasize on program goals, topics to be delivered, and methods comprehensively. Regardless to this perspective, McCarthy and Stone (1987) propose to those who plan induction program to use a check list, focus on what’s important, develop an induction packet, set up program, and evaluate the program.
Job rotation refers to activity which is used to train and expose workers to various job positions and decision making situations (Kramar et al. 1997); where the trainee is given several jobs in succession, to gain experience of a wide range of activities (tutorme2, 2007). In some organizations job rotation is considered important because it leads to positive contribution to the organization. Nankervis et al. (2005) point out that employees movement from one department to the other broaden their knowledge and understanding of all the part of the business. In addition, Dessler, Griffits, and Lloyd-Walker (2004) state:
In addition to providing an excellent opportunity for trainees to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to make informed career decisions, the movement of trainees around the organization ensures that new ideas are introduced into all areas. Movement of staff around the organization can improve interdepartmental cooperation; managers become more understanding of each other’s problems, while rotation also widens the trainees’ acquaintances among management. It also helps potential managers deal with ambiguity as they move into different divisions, facing different scenarios and dealing with different political situations ( Dessler et al., 2004, p. 316).
While the benefits of job rotation are true, however, Kramar et al. (1997) argued that the extent of training and long-run benefits it provides may be overstated. The employees are not in a single position for a long enough period to learn very much and are not motivated to learn because they know that they will move on in the near future. In perceiving this reality Kramar et al. (1997), therefore, propose the organization and its managers to avoid job rotation dealing with the personal career development strategy instead opt for job assignments that are more fixed but that provide greater challenge. Stone (1998) also reveal the drawbacks of job rotation but it more concern about the cost which is expensive. He further claims that job rotation may fail if supervisors are not prepared and lack interest.
The practices of mentoring refers to the creation of learning relationship between an older, more experienced employee, who acts as a coach and a role model, and younger member of the organization (Kramar et al., 1997; Stone, 2005). The primary aim of such relationship is to develop and help the protégé to advance in his or her career. In this particular concern, Kramar, et al. (1997) advocate that mentors’ role and responsibility is not only to teach the protege how to advance in organization but also actively promote their career. Mentoring has positive impacts. Anonymous (2002), for instance, argue that organisation might choose to arrange after-hours meeting to pass knowledge on. This indicates that mentoring program is flexible concerning with time. Apart from saving the cost of training courses, the salary and project cost normally associated with offsite training is also saved (Anonymous, 2002).
However, mentoring program cannot be all good for all situations. Berman, et al. (2006) claim that although mentors often assist in dealing with long term goals, complex skill development and professional socialization, a principal barrier is the failure of employees to cultivate relationships with more experienced managers. In this condition, individuals need to identify prospective mentors rather than waiting for mentor to appear.
Management writers believe that OJT has many advantages. Such training method is efficient in term of spending money for the facilities, materials or instructor fee and easy transfer of knowledge and skills (Samson & Daft, 2003). Another positive effect is OJT provides “opportunity for the trainer to develop good relationship with new employees (Nankervis et al., 2005). In addition, OJT may also be used to upgrade workers’ skill when new technology or new work methods produce on-the-job change (Rothwell & Kazanas, 1990). Apart from the advantages as mentioned above, OJT may have some drawbacks. Graham and Bennet (1991) claim that there are several drawbacks of OJT. Firstly, the instructor may have lack of competency and insufficient time in giving proper training. Secondly, if the training is result oriented it may discourage both the trainer and the trainee from proper learning activity. Thirdly, new employees may be exposed to bad method. To conduct a successful OJT and to overcome any negative impact of it, Nankervis et al. (2005) suggest the following points: (a) develop realistic goals and measures for each OJT; (b) plan a specific training schedule for each trainee, including setting periods for evaluation and feedback; (c) have supervisors establish a non-threatening atmosphere that is conducive to learning; (d) conduct periodic evaluations, after training is completed, to prevent regression.
In addition to OJT, Nankervis et al. (2005) and McCarthy and Stone (1987) believe on the importance of providing workers with training away from their organization; that is called off-the-job training. Employees need to be enhanced with various methods of training so that they can have better knowledge and skills. Furthermore, Stone (1998) revealed that conducting training outside will give the diversity of information and knowledge resulting from meeting people with different backgrounds. Simulation, and e-learning are examples of off-the-job-training.
Mondy, Noe and Premeaux (1996) define simulation as “a technique for experimenting with a real-world situation through a mathematical model representing that situation” (p. 128). In this technique, a model is an illustration of the real world so the participants are engaged in situations that are similar to actual job conditions (Kramar, et al., 1997).
Although using this technique is generally less hectic and safer than actual one (Nankervis et al., 2005), Kramar et al. (1997) however, point out negative consequence of this method; that is difficult to adjust simulated training environment to the real job condition. Therefore, some organizations prefer to do the training in real workplace. Banks, for example, would rather train their tellers on the job than using simulation.
According to Bozarth (2005) e-learning is anything that is designed to improve work performance delivered through any electronic devices. In this definition she refers computer uses such as web, CD or DVD, and any training mechanism available electronically. A case in a point is Qantas training modules through their intranet where staffs are given online training (Nankervis et al., 2005). It is asserted that e-learning has advantages. Nankervis et al. (2005) look at the flexibility concerning with time and geography, while Bozarth (2005) at the saving cost of delivering training using learning.
However, Putman (1989) exposes fundamental question on this sophisticated model of training by stating:
We know that training should be done only when it is needed and cost-justified. We have learned a great deal about designing and implementing training programs that use sophisticated media effectively, that incorporate modeling, practice, and feedback in appropriate measure, and that take into account adult learning styles. In short, we have learned a great deal about how to actually improve specific competencies through training. It seems, however, that we are still learning to ask ourselves a basic question: have we really created a training solution? (Putman, 1989).
Whereas Bozarth (2005) advises those who want to use it to consider whether or not e-learning is appropriate for their organization. Therefore manager should take a longer term view if they really want to implement this kind of training (Steier, 1989).
A systematic approach to training and development
In conducting training and development programs for employees, organizations should take into account all important aspects of the program itself. Stone (2005) advocates that the effectiveness of training and development program is the major concern for organization to undergone such program. Therefore, he suggests to have a comprehensive analysis prior to setting up training programs. Having this analysis will allow HR manager to figure out how training and development program contribute to the organization’s strategic business. Stone (2005) then clarifies logical sequences of particular analysis which he calls as a systematic approach to training and development. The first stage is assessment. HR manager should identify what is needed for the training, who will deliver the training, when and where will it be conducted. This is aiming at obtaining clear objectives of the training. Insufficient analysis of this process may lead to inconsistent purpose of the training with the actual need of the organization (Stone, 2005). Indeed, in reality many organizations do poor job of assessing training needs or do not perform such assessing at all (Nankervis et al., 2002). The second phase is training activity. Stone (2005) asserts that this activity concerns with selecting the training methods and learning principles to be implemented in a training program. He adds that such particular activity involves taking into account both the content and the process of training. Thus HR manager are to decide location, timing and presenters in this stage. The last phase is evaluation. Stone (2005) claims that evaluation process is essential to find out whether or not training and development program brings about positive impact on organization. He further emphasizes if training and development program conducted should “contribute to the achievement of the organisation’s objectives” (Stone, 2005). In this notion, it is important for HR manager to compare the intended goal of the training with measurement of actual achievement and to analyse and explain any variables.
Kirkpatrick (1994) as cited in Stone (2005) and McMahon and Carter (1990) advocates four approaches to measure training effectiveness. The four approaches can be seen at the following figure.
Figure 1: Kickpatric’s four approaches of training evaluation
Approaches of training evaluation
These are participants point of view regardless to training conducted. Reactions can be based on impressions, opinions and attitudes of candidates toward the activity. The aim of this measurement is to identify how much the participant liked the program. This type of measurement, which usually in form of questionnaire called “happy sheet” (see Appendix) can be undertaken during or at the end of training activity.
This deals with the outcomes of training process which to used to measure how well participants have learned particular skills or knowledge taught by instructors. This type of evaluation can also be measured during or at the end of the training activity.
This measurement involves identifying changes in job behaviour, interpersonal relationships and so on that can be attributed to the training activity. It concerns with examining whether or not training improves participants on-he-job performance. Evidence can be gained through direct observation, from the comment of supervisors and colleagues and from performance appraisals.
This measures the effects of training on the achievement of the organization’s objectives. Reports on productivity, sales, quality, absenteeism costs, and so on before and after training are used to determine the bottom-line impact of the training activity.
Despite the importance of training evaluation, many HR managers do not include the phase as part of training and development program within their organizations (Kumar, 1999). Such reality appears as HR practitioners are not trained in assessment and research methodologies and are thus inclined to use ‘happy sheet’ (Stone, 2005). Therefore, it is recommended for organizations to ensure that their HR managers are well-trained in conducting evaluation program.
The following figure depicts a complete systematic training and development model that have been discussed in this part of the essay.
Figure 2. A systematic training and development model
(Adapted from Stone, 2005, p. 338)
Trends in training
Because of the rapid changes in technology and the growth of organization into large, complex operations, training and development programs has emerged into new trends. Polson (1994 as cited in Nankervis et al., 2005) outlines several new trends concerning with this phenomenon. He states that training and development programs will be more emphasis on ‘action learning’, much greater use of CD-ROM, diversity in training delivery, and downsizing of large training department. According to Stone (2005) action learning is a learning experience based and differs from traditional management training in several aspects. While traditional model of training uses books or written cases as the main sources of training, action learning’s material is real organizational problems. The method in delivering training is “based on the straight forward pedagogical notion that people learn most effectively when working on real time problems occurring in their own work setting” (Raelin, 1997). Similar to Polson, Berge, de Verneil, Berge, Davis and Smith (2002) assert that training program for employees will be more focus on improving workers competency in computer use, greater need to provide training on teamwork and system thinking, and shift from providing ‘training’ to ‘learning’.
Employer responsibility in training and development employees
Hyman (1996) has pointed out that the process of training and development program is undertaken with organizational needs as the primary concern. This indicates that any training conducted will, for the most part, benefit organization. However, employer should also think of the necessity of employees who, in the long run, need to have satisfying careers (Nankervis, et al., 2005). In perceiving this notion, Nankervis et al. suggest organizations to offer and undergo career development programs for their employees.
Nankervis et al. believe that such program will give considerable commitment and loyalty of the employees towards organization and will retain key employees (2005). In addition, Hall (1976 as cited in Nankervis et al., 2005) asserted that a career development programs would benefit the whole elements of organizations. However, employees should not rely career development merely on employers. The ultimate responsibility for personal growth still rests with the workers themselves (Nankervis, et al., 2005). Indeed, employers’ role and responsibility is just to help them to achieve their career objectives.
We have seen that training and development program for employees is important for the success of organization. This program should be carried out continuously, from the beginning when the employees are just being recruited. Methods available for training and development program, such as OJT which includes induction and orientation, job rotation and mentoring and off-the-job training which includes simulation and e-learning, have both benefits and drawbacks.
Therefore, in designing any form of training and development program, HR manager should follow a systematic approach which involves three phases: the assessment phase, the training and development phase, and the evaluation phase. Organisation should also adjust their training format with the new trends in training, for example in using CD ROM or other electronic devices. Employer should also responsible in helping employees in obtaining their personal career. However, the workers should also aware that their personal growth is their primary responsibility.
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