Human Resources Training and Development

Training and development is vital part of the human resource development. It is assuming ever important role in wake of the advancement of technology which has resulted in ever increasing competition, rise in customer’s expectation of quality and service and a subsequent need to lower costs. It is also become more important globally in order to prepare workers for new jobs. In the current write up, we will focus more on the emerging need of training and development, its implications upon individuals and the employers.

Noted management author Peter Drucker said that the fastest growing industry would be training and development as a result of replacement of industrial workers with knowledge workers. In United States, for example, according to one estimate technology is de-skilling 75 % of the population. This is true for the developing nations and for those who are on the threshold of development. In Japan for example, with increasing number of women joining traditionally male jobs, training is required not only to impart necessary job skills but also for preparing them for the physically demanding jobs. They are trained in everything from sexual harassment policies to the necessary job skills.

The need for Training and Development

Before we say that technology is responsible for increased need of training inputs to employees, it is important to understand that there are other factors too that contribute to the latter. Training is also necessary for the individual development and progress of the employee, which motivates him to work for a certain organization apart from just money. We also require training update employees of the market trends, the change in the employment policies and other things.

The following are the two biggest factors that contribute to the increased need to training and development in organizations:

  • Change: The word change encapsulates almost everything. It is one of the biggest factors that contribute to the need of training and development. There is in fact a direct relationship between the two. Change leads to the need for training and development and training and development leads to individual and organizational change, and the cycle goes on and on. More specifically it is the technology that is driving the need; changing the way how businesses function, compete and deliver.

  • Development: It is again one the strong reasons for training and development becoming all the more important. Money is not the sole motivator at work and this is especially very true for the 21st century. People who work with organizations seek more than just employment out of their work; they look at holistic development of self. Spirituality and self-awareness for example are gaining momentum world over. People seek happiness at jobs which may not be possible unless an individual is aware of the self. At ford, for example, an individual can enroll in a course on ‘self-awareness’, which apparently seems inconsequential to ones performance at work but contributes to the spiritual well-being of an individual which is all the more important.

The critical question however remains the implications and the contribution of training and development to the bottom line of organizations’ performance. To assume a leadership position in the market space, an organization will need to emphasize on the kind of programs they use to improvise performance and productivity and not just how much they simply spend on learning!

Development of a Training Program

Development of a training program is the next step after the training need analysis has been conducted and there is a clear consensus on the need of training within the organization. The next vital question to answer is whether the training should be conducted by an in house expert or from a consultant outside.

Many of  organizations’ around the world have their in house learning centers and many have even gone ahead to have their own training universities where they train people on-board and those who aspire to join in the future. Companies like Xerox, Good Year Tires, Kodak, Mahindra and Mahindra, Birla etc. have such setups for generating prospective employees with the requisite skills and also for training the existing employees. There are other organizations’ too that have tie ups with the best academic institutions for employee exchange programs. Nevertheless the prerequisites for development of a training program remain the same. It  starts with the development of a conducive learning environment, followed by a choice of the training methods and techniques.

  • Designing the Environment – every individual is unique. One style of learning may not be applicable to each of the participants in a training program. Therefore ‘how do various individuals learn’ is what should be kept in mind while designing the training program. There are certain who learn the experiential way by doing and yet there are many who like the lecture based learning method. There are however pros and cons of both and the appropriate learning style is generally the discretion of the trainer
  • Establishing the Variables – train-ability is one factor that must be taken into consideration before developing any training program. It is the duty of the trainer to ensure that the employees are actually willing to sit and learn something in the training program. This is especially very true of sensitivity training that is not viewed positively by many. Train-ability also implies that the employee is sufficiently motivated to learn apart from just the ability to do so. Before any training program sets off, it is the responsibility of the trainer to build hype about the event and such that it attracts all types of employees from target audience within the organization.

There are both formal and informal ways of doing the same. Formal ways would be by sending mails to the employees who are supposed to attend the program. Informal ways would be just creating conditions for discussion in the cafeteria or the lounge where employees sit together, discuss and hear things on the grapevine.

Finally, once the training program has been delivered the evaluation of the same provides inputs for improving the process of training. These are called as the ‘post learning inputs’. This evaluation which is conducted at various levels may be utilized accordingly. Most of the organizations’ evaluate training on the basis of Kirk Patrick Model. The feedback at each level – learning, reaction, behavior and results can be used for effective design of training in future.

Kirkpatrick’s Model of Training Evaluation

Organizations spend a huge amount of money for training their employees at various levels and on various competencies, behavioral and technical. Every year new tools are designed to try and cater to individual learning styles and make the training more effective. After all an organization is concerned about its spending and the return on the same!

Donald Kirkpatrick, professor emeritus, university of Wisconsin began working on evaluating the effectiveness of training very early in his life. His early work on the same was published in the year 1959 in a journal of American Society of Training Directors. He laid out four levels for evaluation of any training. This model is arguably the most widespread for evaluation in use. It is simple, very flexible and complete. The four levels as described by Kirkpatrick are as follows:

·         Reaction of the Trainee – thoughts and feelings of the participants about the training

·         Learning – the increase in knowledge or understanding as a result of the training

·         Behavior – extent of change in behavior, attitude or capability

·         Results – the effect on the bottom line of the company as a result of the training.

Reaction implies how favorably the participants have responded to the training. This evaluation is primarily quantitative in nature and is a feedback to the training and the trainer. The most common collection tool is the questionnaire that analyses the content, methodology, facilities and the course content.

Learning, the level of learning the evaluation is done on the basis of change in the ASK (Attitudes, skills and knowledge) of the trainees. The evaluation involves observation and analysis of the voice, behavior, text. Other tools used apart from the observation are interviews, surveys, pre and posttests etc.

Behavior evaluation analyses the transfer of learning from the training session to the work place. Here the primary tool for evaluation is predominantly the observation. Apart from the observation, a combination of questionnaires and 360 feedbacks are also used.

Results, the results stage makes evaluations towards the bottom line of the organization. Here the definition of the results depends upon the goal of the training program. The evaluation is done by using a control group allowing certain time for the results to be achieved.

There are many other models that are unique in their own ways, nut as mentioned earlier Kirkpatrick’s Model is the one that is accepted and used widely across all industries and with wider applications.

R.S.

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