Five Training and Developing Employees

When you finish studying this chapter you should be able to:

Explain each of the steps in the ADDIE training process.
Discuss at least two techniques used for assessing training needs.
Explain the pros and cons of at least five training techniques.
Explain what management development is and why it is important.
Describe the main management development techniques.
Overview

After the recession hit, Macy’s focused on cutting costs, and its sales associates’ customer service suffered. Management now must put in place a comprehensive training plan. The main purpose of this chapter is to explain how to plan, develop, and implement training programs. The topics we cover include Orienting Employees, The Training Process, Implementation: Training Techniques, Management Development and Training, Managing Organizational Change and Development, and Evaluating the Training Effort.

Orienting Employees

After screening and selecting new employees, management turns to orienting and training them. Employee orientation (often called “onboarding” today) involves more than what most people realize.1 It should of course provide new employees with the basic background information they need to perform their jobs, such as company rules. But orientation should also help to socialize the employee into the employer’s way of doing things. Socialization is the ongoing process of instilling in employees the attitudes, standards, values, and patterns of behavior that the organization expects.2 Appreciating the company’s culture and values distinguishes today’s onboarding from traditional orientation.3 For example, the Mayo Clinic’s “heritage and culture” program emphasizes core Mayo Clinic values such as teamwork, personal responsibility, and mutual respect.4

Types of Programs

Orientation programs range from brief introductions to lengthy programs. In either, new employees usually receive printed or Web-based handbooks covering things like working hours, performance reviews, and vacations, as well as a facilities tour. Other information might cover employee benefits, personnel policies, the employee’s daily routine, company organization and operations, and safety regulations.5 (Courts may find that your employee handbook represents a contract. Make it clear that statements of company policies, benefits, and regulations do not constitute the terms and conditions of an employment contract.) In firms like Macy’s, the onboarding may include videos, lectures by company officers, and exercises covering matters like company history, vision, and values.

Purposes

A successful orientation should make the new employee should feel welcome. He or she should understand the organization in a broad sense (its past, present, culture, and vision of the future). The employee should be clear about what the firm expects in terms of policies, procedures, and work and behavior, and also start becoming socialized into the firm’s ways of doing things.6

Technology

Technology improves orientation. For example, some firms provide new managers with preloaded personal digital assistants. These contain information such as key contact information, and even images of employees the new manager needs to know.7 Some firms provide all new employees with URLs or disks containing discussions of corporate culture, videos of corporate facilities, and welcoming addresses from top managers. ION Geophysical uses an online onboarding portal called RedCarpet. New hires view things like photos and profiles of members of their work teams.8

The HR specialist usually starts the orientation, explaining matters like working hours and vacations. The employee’s new supervisor continues the orientation by explaining the exact nature of the job, introducing the person to his or her new colleagues, and familiarizing the new employee with the workplace and the job.

The Training Process

Training refers to the methods employers use to give new or present employees the skills they need to perform their jobs.

The best training departments measure their own performance in terms of how much impact they have on the company’s performance.9 Training has an impressive record of influencing organizational effectiveness, scoring higher than appraisal and just below goal setting in its effect on productivity.10

Aligning Strategy and Training

The employer’s strategic plans should ultimately govern its training goals.11 In essence, the task is to identify the employee behaviors the firm will require to execute its strategy, and from that deduce what competencies employees will need. Then, put in place training goals and programs to instill these competencies. As one trainer said, “We sit down with management and help them identify strategic goals and objectives and the skills and knowledge needed to achieve them.”12

Strategy and HR

As an example, having navigated its way through the recession, Macy’s top management turned to a new strategy in 2011. As its CEO said, “We are [now] talking about a cultural shift . . . becoming more of a growth company.”13 To produce the improved customer service that Macy’s new growth strategy depended on, Macy’s installed a new training program. Rather than just watching a 90-minute video as they previously did, sales associates now attend 3½-hour training sessions. Macy’s management believes the resulting improvement in service will be the biggest factor in achieving Macy’s growth goals.14

Training and Performance

One survey found that “establishing a linkage between learning and organizational performance” was the number-one pressing issue facing training professionals.15 Some training experts use the phrase “workplace learning and performance” instead of “training” to underscore training’s dual aims of employee learning and organizational performance.16 Training has an impressive record of influencing performance.17 Companies recently spent on average $1,103 per employee for training per year and offered each about 28 hours of training.18

The ADDIE Five-Step Training Process

The employer should use a rational training process. The gold standard here is still the basic analysis–design–develop–implement–evaluate (ADDIE) training process model that training experts have used for years.19 As an example, one training vendor describes its training process as follows:

Analyze the training need.
Design the overall training program.
Develop the course (actually assembling/creating the training materials).
Implement training, by actually training the targeted employee group using methods such as on-the-job or online training.
Evaluate the course’s effectiveness.20
We’ll look at each step next.

Analyzing the Training Needs

Analyzing employees’ training needs usually involves either task analysis—breaking the jobs into subtasks and teaching each to the new employee—or performance analysis—determining the nature of the performance problem.

Employers use task analysis to determine new employees’ training needs. With inexperienced personnel, your aim is to provide the skills and knowledge required for effective performance. Task analysis is a detailed study of the job to determine what specific skills—such as soldering (in the case of an assembly worker) or interviewing (in the case of a supervisor)—is required. The job description and job specification list the job’s specific duties and skills and are the basic reference points for determining the training required. Figure 5-1 summarizes other methods for uncovering a job’s training needs.

For current employees, requests for training often start with line managers expressing concerns, such as “we’re getting too many complaints from clients.”21 The first step here is therefore to determine what training, if any, is required. Some call this the “skills gapping” process. Ideally, employers determine the skills each job requires and the skills of the job’s current or prospective employees. The employer then designs a training program to eliminate the skills gap.22

The problem here is that training may not be the solution. Performance analysis means verifying that there is a performance deficiency and determining whether that deficiency should be rectified through training or through some other means (such as transferring the employee or changing the compensation plan). Analytical tools here include:

Supervisor, peer, self-, and 360-degree performance reviews
Job-related performance data (such as productivity, absenteeism, accidents, waste, late deliveries, product quality, and customer complaints)
Observation by supervisors or other specialists
Interviews with the employee or his or her supervisor
Tests of things like job knowledge, skills, and attendance
Attitude surveys
Assessment centers23
Performance analysis usually starts with appraising the employee’s performance. For example,

“Other plants our size average no more than two serious accidents per month; we’re averaging five.”

For current employees, distinguishing between “can’t do” and “won’t do” problems is the heart of performance analysis. First, determine whether it’s a “can’t do” problem and, if so, its cause. For example, perhaps the employees don’t know what to do or what your standards are, or there are obstacles such as inadequate supplies. Perhaps job aids are needed, such as color-coded wires that show assemblers what wire goes where; or poor screening results in people who haven’t the skills to do the job; or training is inadequate. Or, it might be a “won’t do” problem. Here, employees could do a good job if they wanted to. If this is the case, the manager may have to change the reward system, perhaps by implementing an incentive plan.

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