I am one day older

happy-birthday-72160_960_720Each year as a birthday comes around my friends and family calls to wish me a happy birthday. They may say something along the lines of you are one year older. As I thought about this phrase one week leading up to my birthday this year it hit me, they have been wrong all these years.

A birthday marks the anniversary of your birthday and helps you to count the years since your birth. But the days from one birthday to the other marks your life. They mark the difference you make with your life and how well you’ve used each year. Each day is filled with experiences, love, joy, hopes, fulfilment of those hopes and the list goes on. But most importantly each day is full of the marks you make as an individual on the lives you come in contact with.

And so this year I am resolute in my quest to celebrate one day older, today and each day that I am blessed to be with my family and friends, growing and learning. After all, we are told by the Good Book “whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away,” (James 4:14).

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,” (Galatians 6:10). I pray you will join me in this quest.

High-Tech Training

The merger of technology and education is always and exciting topic for me. Technology is the catalyst that constantly changes every aspect of our world and education is not immune to this change. In the words of Selinger, Sepulveda, and Buchan (2013), “with technology as the catalyst, education is moving from a knowledge-transfer model to a collaborative, active, self-directed, and engaging model that helps students increase their knowledge and develop the skills needed to succeed in the “Learning Society”, (p. 3). This post will focus on how shared workspaces, mobile learning, microblogs, blended learning, and the internet of things are impacting education.

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Conducting a TNA

For this week’s blog post I spent some time reviewing Men’s Wearhouse, a retailer of men’s clothing. The company was established over 40 years ago and pride themselves on providing world class customer service. If conducting a training needs analysis on this entity, there are several factors to consider, including the organization, the people and the tasks they are assigned to perform. Training needs analysis (TNA) is a “systematic method of determining what caused performance to be less than expected or required,” (Blanchard & Thacker, 2007, p. 101). The TNA requires a thorough and objective look at the organization. It is only through understanding the organization and the performance issue that we can determine the next steps to address the performance gap. Like any program evaluation, this analysis cannot be successful without identifying the key stakeholders and gaining their buy-in (Fitzpatrick, Sanders, & Worthen, 2011).

A TNA at this company must include the CEO, a representative of the board of directors, the Training Manager, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Chief Operating Officer, Store Operations, front line staff and even the customers. Their feedback will be necessary to determine the performance gap to address. They will also have opinions on the best options to treat the gap, provide the necessary funding, and participate where required to ensure execution.

I would conduct three analysis: organizational, person and task. An organizational analysis is intended to determine the goals and objectives of the organization and how training will support these. A task analysis will identify the knowledge, skills, and abilities the learners must possess to perform at optimal levels (Noe, 2013). While the person analysis identifies the individuals who need training and their readiness for training (Noe, 2013). There are many questions which you can pose to the stakeholders in these analyses. At a minimum, the following questions will be asked in the analysis identified in the left column.

Analysis Questions Who to ask
Organizational What are the goals and objectives of the organization? Top management
  How does the intended program align with the strategic needs of the business? Training Manager
  Which persons or group have an interest in seeing training succeed? Whose support do we need? Training Manager
  Is there a general understanding of the goals and objectives? Supervisors, department heads, incumbent
  Are there policies, procedures,  or rules that inhibit performance? Department heads, supervisor, incumbents
  How are jobs organized? Top management, supervisors, department heads, incumbents
  Does the job in any way inhibit incumbents from being top performers? Top management, supervisors, department heads, incumbents
  How does employees know what level of performance is acceptable? Supervisors, incumbents
Person What is the average age range of expected training participants? Training Manager, supervisors
  What are the learners’ educational background? Training Manager
  Are there any special needs we will need to cater to e.g. hearing impairment? Supervisors
  How are learners made aware of poor performance? Supervisors, incumbent
  Are learners aware of the performance expectations? Supervisors, department heads, incumbents
  What tools does the employee need to carry out their assigned tasks? Do they have access to all these tools Incumbent, supervisor
Task What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to carry out each task successfully? Supervisor, incumbent
  What are the duties and tasks expected for this job? Supervisor, incumbent

 

There is usually no one best way to conduct an analysis and indeed research advocates for a multi-method approach (Fitzpatrick, Sanders, & Worthen, 2011). In keeping with this suggestion, I would make use of interviews, observations, questionnaires, and document review when conducting this TNA. I would ensure I review performance appraisals, sales records, and job descriptions.

References

Blanchard, P. N., & Thacker, J. W. (2007). Effective Training: Systems, Strategies and Practices (3rd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Fitzpatrick, J. L., Sanders, J. R., & Worthen, B. R. (2011). Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

 

Why not train?

I recently came across a cartoon which revealed a conversation between a CFO and a CEO. The CFO asked the CEO what happens if we train them and they leave? The CEO responded what happens if don’t and they stay.

So what happens if you don’t?

Low staff morale, performance inefficiencies, business stagnation, poor knowledge retention and high turnover. Those are the expected results of little or no training and development in your organization. I would like to hazard a guess that you are in business to make a profit and to keep doing so. Training your staff provides them with the skills to innovate (Barber 2004, as cited in Aguinis & Kraiger, 2009) and facilitates organizational knowledge retention (Acton & Golden, 2002). Training then provides some stability for your employees and your business and helps to ensure its longevity. With improved skill comes the opportunity for increased productivity, effectiveness, and operating profit. Research shows that continuous investment in training will result in increased job satisfaction and reduced levels of job-related stress (Acton & Golden, 2002).

So my question to you is, why not make the investment in training?

References

Acton, T., & Golden, W. (2002). Training: The way to retain valuable IT employees. Informing Science, (pp. 1-12).

Aguinis, H., & Kraiger, K. (2009). Benefits of training and development for individuals and teams, organizations, and society. Annual review of psychology, 60, 451-474.

 

For the audio recording of this post, click the play button below.

 

Managing Scope Creep

Several years ago while employed at a higher education institution, I was included on a project team responsible for converting a face to face course to an online course. At the time, we knew nothing of the term instructional design and were recreating the course from a poor design. An overseas firm was contracted to do the site and content. Two things were wrong with the first course created: 1) the site was not what my boss wanted and 2) they did not include the content. They provided a skeleton for my boss to populate. My boss, who was obviously not pleased with the result, handed over everything to his in-house team to recreate. This time, he wanted us to include the content for each module on the site and create a design that he was comfortable with. This began our project.

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