TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
Training is as old as mankind itself.
The famous fifth-century BC Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu once wrote, "If you tell me, I will listen. If you show me, I will see. But if you let me experience, I will learn. The idea of training and development (T&D) is nothing new to the twenty-first century, but has rather evolved since the earliest stages of human civilization and has been gradually refined into the sophisticated process that it is today.
Various survival skills were imparted from generation to generation either in an organized training set up or in a random fashion or even through folklores. In our own traditional set ups, training covered all aspects of life, - hunting, herding cattle, cattle rustling, iron mongery, farming, child and family care etc.
In life, the first trainers are our mothers, and hence the question, who is your mother whenever social misconduct is exhibited!
Two things stand out in the current world of Training:
- Young people are committed to securing better education and achieving social mobility.
- Governments are willing to invest heavily in the next generation and beyond.
It is encouraging that young people are ready to put in the hard work in acquiring skills. They do it in the early mornings, daytime, by attending evening classes, and during weekends whenever they can. They are also perpetually on the internet in search of information. They have realized that the competition is fierce and the road to a better future is overcrowded.
Despite all these hard work to acquire skills and knowledge, there is also a group of young people that are more concerned more with instant gratification, (the Microwave attitude). They expect to walk straight into the top salary cadre with minimal skills and qualifications to offer to the employer.
This second group of young people is not to be blamed however! They are the product of a society that is going through a time of rapid change and massive confusion.
However, for any meaning full growth and development, we have no choice but to train and impart the relevant skills.
One way out of this confusion is to develop training programmes with clear objectives to bridge the skills gap and will open gateways to career and social mobility.
The employers on their part need to nurture and support the trainees, because they will be part of the lifeblood for growth of our companies. The trainees of today will be the managers of tomorrow and will play leading roles in building thriving businesses.
Training is the act of increasing the knowledge and skill of an employee for doing a particular job. It constitutes a basic concept in human resource development and is concerned with developing a particular skill to a desired standard by instruction and practice.
It can be described as the teaching and learning activities carried on for the primary purpose of helping members of an organization acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes needed by a particular job and organization.
Training is a highly useful tool that will bring employees into positions where they can do their job correctly, effectively, and conscientiously.
Dale S. Beachdefines training as ‘The organized procedure by which people learn knowledge and/or skill for a definite purpose’.
According to Edwin Flippo, ‘training is the act of increasing the skills of an employee for doing a particular job’.
MAIN OBJECTIVES OF TRAINING:
The main objectives of training are:-
- to impart to new entrants basic knowledge and skills,
- to assist employees to function more effectively in their current positions by exposing them to the latest concepts, information and techniques and developing in them the skills required in their fields,
- to build up a second line of competent officers and prepare them, as part of their career progression, to occupy more responsible positions.
- to broaden the minds of the senior managers by providing them opportunities for interchange of experiences within and outside the organization with a view to correcting the narrow outlook that may arise from over specialization.
- to impart customer education.
Training of employees and managers are therefore absolutely essential in this changing environment and is very crucial to adaptation in the dynamic environment we are currently operating in. No organization can afford not to train its employees.
The stability and progress of an organization depends on the training imparted to the employees. It is only through training that the quality of our products and services can be improved and wastage reduced. Training has become mandatory at each and every step of expansion and diversification.
The essence of the manager’s task is to improve the skills and talents of the staff and to develop them to their fullest potential, with enhanced technical competency and productivity in mind. A poorly trained workforce will not serve the needs of our clients/customers, but in the end will be a liability rather than an asset.
There is immense potential in the staff we employ in our various organisations and it is our duty to exploit the potential to the full. Bearing this thought in mind, training of staff is essential to prepare and promote employees to the next grades in line with promotion criteria and the need to generally improve the standards.
In as much as training present excellent opportunity to expand the knowledge base of all employees, many employers find it expensive. Training is a major investment in human resources.
First it cost a lot of money to train an individual and secondly during the training sessions, employees miss out on work, which may delay for example the completion of projects and other deadlines.
Despite the potential drawbacks, training and development provides both the company and the individual employees with benefits that make the cost and time a worthwhile investment.
Some advantages of training is that accidents, spoilages, damage to equipment and machinery can be reduced to a minimum. The employees are also well motivated to do good work.
Training also leads to a reduction in dissatisfaction, complaints, absenteeism. Well trained staff is also satisfied and enjoy a sense of achievement that the knowledge that they have gained is useful in developing their capabilities at work. As employees respond to continued training, they can progressively increase their value in the organization.
Needles to say therefore, Training and Development of people should be a major pre-occupation of each and every management. The process should not just be about spending money, but must seek to make radical changes in our system of values, in the way we evaluate people in their working environment, and also the way we view the management function, regardless of the type of organization, product or service. Effective managers are those who can best develop all human resources in the organization, for the purpose of achieving organizational objectives.
Training programme of employees begins with the orientation/induction process. Orientation training is used to develop a positive attitude in the employees. The time spent conducting a session shows that the organization values the new employees. All new employees regardless of their previous training, education and experience should be introduced to the new employers’ work environment, and be shown how to perform specific tasks.
The need for induction is known to us all but one important fact is that at the induction meeting with the new employee, it should be emphasized that in case of any doubt, difficulty or grievances, the trainee must approach his immediate superiors and if dissatisfied, the Personnel Department. This should be effectively followed up by the immediate supervisor himself. If this is not done, the employee is likely to get information from wrong sources and add to the number of problem employees in the organization.
Training does not end with the initial orientation or induction of employees, nor is it to be limited to retraining for new jobs or altered work methods. People are constantly being “trained” and retrained by the way the organizational superiors and long serving employees treat them, and by the opportunity or lack of it-to receive an appraisal of their work performance from their superiors. If employees view the appraisals as useful ways to achieve personal goals, they will welcome them and vice versa. For training and appraisal to be successful, the employees must want to learn and to improve their performance and supervisors must be able to teach and to help them raise the level of their performance.
In addition, specific occasions for retraining arise when employees are transferred or promoted or when jobs change and new skills must be learnt, perhaps by changes emanating from the technological arena.
The policy of filling higher jobs through promotions from within the company would necessitate a well thought out training and development programme. The training however, has to be need based. Potential employees should be spotted and be trained to be ready to take up specific higher positions in their own or related functional areas as may be needed in the organization. The training should be both formal i.e. in the company and outside the training course, and informal through job rotations.
One practical method of ascertaining the needs of employees for a training programme would be to include it in the annual assessment. Along with the assessments, the Departmental heads should also indicate the potential of an employee and suggest a training programme, along with the goals to be achieved by the training. This should be discussed and finalized in consultation with the personnel department to ensure that that the training programme becomes an integral part of the total organizations plan.
In the present age of severe competition, for survival, very competent managers at senior levels are simply a must. Many companies appear to think of a management development programme as something that is done to the benefit of the individual rather than as a step in a continuous and integrated management process, deeply entrenched in the philosophy, objectives and organizational structure of the company.
In any organization, the quality and depth of Management are its greatest assets. There is usually a shortage of competent managers in most organizations. In expanding companies, the shortage is acute. This has increasingly led to a concern with management development programs to provide a continuing supply of able managers at all levels and especially in the high echelons.
Managers develop themselves through their own experience and off the job. They are also developed by the way in which their previous and present superiors deal with them. The structure of the organization in which they function also affects the organization’s capacity to develop managerial competence.
It is therefore more practical for an organization to train its own managers rather than look for readymade managers from outside the organization. To ensure this, every manager should be entrusted with the task of developing his deputy who should be able to step into his position at any time without causing any major inconvenience to the organization.
In most large and medium sized organisations, it has been found necessary to place the responsibility of planning and developing these programmes in the hands of specialists. Unless there is a staff member primarily concerned with assisting management in developing and admistering these programs, they are likely to be neglected by managers who are confronted with what seems to be more urgent problems. The managers may not realise that problems they experience in day to day running of the company e.g. excessive staff turnover, accidents, low productivity, can be solved by training. A staff specialist may help them to identify how training may help with these problems.
Training and performance appraisal are an integral part of employee development and need the support of top management. This because millions of dollars are usually spent on employee education and training and decisions involving these funds is made at the top.
The types of employee training best suited to a specific organisation depend upon a number of factors, such as skills called for in jobs to be filled, qualifications of candidates applying for jobs and the kinds of operating problems confronted by the organization.
The impact of rapid technological change and automation on existing skills and jobs means that training should be a continuous function and programs for retraining employees for new occupations and jobs is necessary. As the repetitive routine and clerical jobs are eliminated by electronic data installations, some of the displaced workers can be trained as programmers, console operators etc. It will be necessary for management to give considerably more attention to retraining employees for changed jobs than it has been in the past.
Continued training will help the employees to develop their ability to learn, adapting themselves to new work methods, learning to use new kinds of equipment and adjusting to major changes in job content and work relationships.
Employee education provided off the employer’s premises is also often helpful in preparing for new or better jobs.
As training or retraining programme is put into operation with the support of top management, and as experience regarding it accumulates, the results should be checked and evaluated. Has production increased? Were former training periods reduced for certain jobs? Are new workers able to reach expected earnings more quickly? Are there fewer accidents/mistakes? Are there less spoilage and less damage to machines and equipments? Have turnover rates been reduced?
Answers to these questions applying to the same or comparable groups of workers before and after the training programme will indicate the degree of its success, and perhaps suggest changes that would make training events more effective. It should however be remembered that no matter how good the training programme looks on paper, it cannot succeed without competent instructions. The best planned training programmes are likely to be ineffective if the trainers are poorly/not qualified. A well qualified trainer is one who not only has the mastery of the technical details of the particular job, but also knows how to train.
Certain principles of learning developed by work of psychologists are applicable here:-
- The student or trainee must want to learn. Motivation to improve job performance or to learn new skills must be high.
- Motivation is increased by the prospect of some reward at the conclusion of the learning process e.g. Promotion or a better job.
- Learning results need to be checked by the teacher or the trainer, as the latter explains in what respects learning is correct or incorrect.
- Such feedback is best accomplished through learning by doing, rather than by listening.
- The material to be learned should be developed in stages, with feedback and correction at each stage necessary.
- When the learner has made the correct responses to the learning process, learning has occurred. Whether such new knowledge carries over in practice can be tested periodically again by the feedback.
- While the learning theory is much more complex than this, these principles underline effective teaching and training.
Under the Job Instruction Training Programme (JIT- A world War 11 Training experience) it is suggested that before the actual training begins, the instructor must get ready to instruct. Four steps were recommended and these are applicable today in training programmes for unskilled as well as skilled workers:-
- Have a time table- How much skill do you expect the trainee to have and how soon? This gives both the trainee and the instructor a series of goals at which to aim.
- Break the Job down- list the principal steps. Job description and analysis are a necessary preliminary to training. A written job analysis is usually necessary if training is to be efficient.
- Have everything ready- have the right equipment, materials and supplies ready. This is an important preparatory step, so that there need to be no delays when the actual training begins.
- Have the workplace properly arranged- have it arranged just as the worker will be expected to keep it.
The results of all these can be summarized in one sentence, ‘If the Worker hasn’t learnt, then the instructor hasn’t taught.”
IMMEDIATE BENEFITS OF TRAINING TO AN ORGANIZATION
- Addressing Weaknesses:
Most employees have some weaknesses (skills gap) in their working areas. A training and development program enables one to acquire the skills and improve on existing ones; bringing the employees to a higher level of skills and knowledge. This helps reduce any weak links within the company.
- Improved Employee Performance:
An employee who receives the necessary training is in a better position to perform his duties. They learn proper procedures of doing basic tasks and become more aware of efficient practices.
- Building of Employees self confidence:
Training helps build the employee's confidence because it makes the employee have a better understanding of the industry and the responsibilities of the job. This confidence will push the employee to perform better and even come up with new ideas that will help the organization to excel. Employees who are competent helps the company holds a position of leadership and strong competitor within the industry.
All employees are required to be aware of the expectations and procedures of the company they work for. A structured training and development program ensures that employees have a consistent experience and background knowledge. Putting all employees through regular training ensures that all staff members have exposure to the necessary information and will be consistent in the performance of their duties.
- Employee Satisfaction:
Employees with access to training and development programs have the advantage over employees in other companies who are left to seek out their own training opportunities. The investment in training that a company makes on an employee shows that the employee is valued. Employees who feel appreciated will have more job satisfaction and in return are more productive.
KENNETH O.OBALLA, TRAINING MANAGER, ZEP RE (PTA REINSURANCE COMPANY).