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Effective planning tools for training and people’s development

Zig Ziglar very correctly said, “You don’t build a business. You build people. And then the people build business.” The same philosophy works behind the concept of training and people’s development for any organization. Training is one or a series of formal, planned activities, which are instructional in nature and are developed for the purpose of conveying course content leading to the acquisition of demonstrable knowledge, skills, and attitude (KSA) required to reach an organizational vision. As a matter of fact, it is a formal and a well-planned process to bring human force to a desired standard of efficiency and condition. It helps a group of selected people to learn the required skills to carry out any task in order to maximize the individual or group effort or performance for a target or a goal. Training is a tool to ensure specific tasks to carry out in accordance with a predetermined procedure and mission of an organization. It is now a demand and necessity for any industry for growth and productivity.

It is mainly characterized by a shift in thinking from ‘‘instruction’’ to ‘‘construction.’’  If we can plan training and people’s development as part of any company’s strategic vision, we can increase productivity, profitability, sustainability and human capacity of its people only by aligning two visions-the vision of the people and the vision of the organization to covert them in to one. 

An effective plan for training and people’s development requires focus, discipline, strategic thinking, vision, and leadership. For many decades, training has been associated largely with behavioral psychology. Job and task analysis, measurable behavioral objectives, time and motion studies—all were the hallmarks of training in our industrial economy. Many strategic things have changed today. We live in a postindustrial economy under a global umbrella. We are the inhabitants of a global village. Information is the key organizer. An information-driven economy requires a different perspective on training. We’ve shifted our orientation from behaviorism to cognitivism. This perception has created a new dimension for training and development. It is mainly characterized by a shift in thinking from ‘‘instruction’’ to ‘‘construction.’’  If we can plan training and people’s development as part of any company’s strategic vision, we can increase productivity, profitability, sustainability and human capacity of its people only by aligning two visions-the vision of the people and the vision of the organization to covert them in to one.

There are two target groups for training and development in an organization irrespective of its management level: (1) New Employees and (2) Existing Employees. Each target group has different objectives to reach.  Training for the new employees is planned generally for two objectives: (1) to orient them to the essential information about their company/organizational programs and policies, and (2) to teach them the skills, knowledge, abilities and attitudes necessary to safely and efficiently perform their jobs. The purpose of training for the existing employees is to keep them up to date on policy and regulation changes and to expand their knowledge and skills necessary for upward mobility.

Training can be accomplished through one or a combination of the following methodical approaches:

1.Technical or hard skills Training:

This training is for new or experienced employees designed to provide the optimum level of skills necessary and essential to perform required duties of their current position. For examples: an engineer for a textile company with specialization in ETP.

2. Soft Skills Training:

It aims for employees designed to correct a deficiency identified in reviewing work plans or performance appraisals; or to provide additional knowledge which would improve performance in the current position. Soft skills may include leadership, management skills, team building ability, effective communication skills, time management, professional manner and etiquette, customer care and sales etc depending on the requirement of the organization.

3. Developmental Training:

It is designed for employees to develop skills or provide knowledge with an opportunity of employees’ promotion in their career.

Before we plan training and people’s development for any organization we have to be very clear and specific about its functional outputs. We have to make sure that the plan we make helps in addressing employee weaknesses and strengths, improves performance, creates consistency in duty performance, ensures work force satisfaction, increases productivity,

improves quality of services and products, reduces cost and minimizes supervision efforts. We should remember that training is one of the most essential elements of human resource management (HRM). In wider aspect ‘training and development’ refers to the core aspect of human resource development (HRD). Once we understand the functional role of training and people’s development we can plan it effectively. First of all we have to ensure that it is the very strategic part of the organizational vision. Unless it is part of the organizational vision its planning becomes meaningless.

When we have the strategic clearance about training and development plan, we can now focus on other essential factors to plan the whole gamut of its operation. There are two parts of this plan: (1) Soft part and (2) Hard part. The Soft part deals with TNA (Training Needs Analysis), topic and content selection, trainer or facilitator’s selection, module customization and development, feedback, evaluation etc. The hard part ranges from preparing the handout, file, folder and pen, venue selection, food and seating arrangements, multimedia projector, laptop and sound system arrangement to props and other training aids and logistics. Of course, the budget can be split in to two parts! Let me discuss each part concisely.

(1) Soft part:

TNA (Training Needs Analysis): Training and needs analysis (TNA) is regarded as a health check on the skills, talent and capabilities of the organization. It is the systematic gathering of data to find out where there are gaps in the existing competence (skills, knowledge and attitudes) of employees. CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) has developed an approach called ‘RAM’ (relevance, alignment, measurement) for TNA based on a research on the value of learning with the University of Portsmouth.

  • Relevance: how does what we are currently doing and what we plan to do meet new opportunities and challenges for the business.
  • Alignment: you talk to key managers and other stakeholders about what they are seeking to deliver and how you can help them achieve it.
  • Measurement: it’s critical that we properly and consistently measure and evaluate our interventions. Use a mixture of evaluation methods such as return on investment (ROI), look at broader measures of expected change and improvement such as return on expectation (ROE), & other relevant outcomes to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Organizational TNA should ideally be undertaken at 3 levels: 1. Organizational level  2. Team/departmental level and 3. Individual level. A mixture of these 3 levels will project an aligned picture of the right decision. TNA can be conducted through observation of employees’ skills, interviews and questionnaires about employees competence (KSA), job descriptions analysis, problem solving conference, difficulty analysis, drive patter identity, appraisal reviews and analysis of organizational policy and regulations.

Topic and content selection: TNA gives us the specific requirement of training and development programs for the employees. Furthermore, we can categorically select the topic and its content. Gradually we’ll have a list of training and development programs.

As the list with the probable content and topics is ready, now we can select a professional trainer or facilitator for each program-be it soft skills or hard skills. In consultation with the core training and development team an expert or veteran trainer or facilitator can easily customize the module with pre and post assessment and other feedback and evaluation tools for each training and development program based on the selected topic.

(2) Hard part: We have to take care of the hard part of the training plan simultaneously along with the arrangement of the soft part. We must pay equal attention to this arrangement as well, because it is the part which is physically and mentally enjoyed by all participants or trainees! The hard part arrangement is called ‘logistics’. It refers to the planning, execution, and control of the movement / placement of goods and / or people, and the related supporting activities, all within a system designed to achieve specific objectives. Logistics management is that part of supply chain management that plans, implements, and controls the efficient, effective forward and reverse flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet customers’ requirements (definition by CSCMP-Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals). I always use the VeMM Model for an effective training plan:

Ve = Venue (Premises with all essential supports and utilities)
M= Menu (food, water and other light refreshments)
M= Materials (Handouts, Multimedia, Sound System, Podium, File, Folder, Pens, Flip Chart, Camera, Press release, Power point slides, and what not)

An ideal training environment checklist includes good audio visual equipment, appropriate seating patterns, comfortable chairs, good writing surface for each participant, thermostatically controlled temperature, independently controlled ventilation (air conditioning or windows), good supply of coffee/light lunches, adequately sound-proofed room, with 5 square metres space per participant, natural daylight (windows with blinds/curtains), with minimum 500 lux lighting, central electrical commands (lights, audio visual, etc).

Other than these two parts of the training plan’s arrangements we must focus on the professional psychology of all stakeholders of the whole process. There are three stakeholders of the process: (1) The vision and mission of the organization set by the top leaders of its management (2) The jurisdictions and efficiency of the training team and its leader (s) and (3) Finally the areas of expertise and overall proficiency and efficiency of the trainer, facilitator or resource person. The effective outcome of the training and people’s development plan largely depends on these 3 strategic stakeholders. If they are aligned, all other relevant things fall into place smoothly.

Training and people’s development is a continuous process. We always need a long term approach to plan for its grand success. In order to keep pace with the challenging business world all organizations should regard this initiative as a superb tool of ‘competitive advantage’. This initiative can easily be used as a ‘research and development’ archive to cope with the changing pattern of business. Moreover, this is one of the best motivational tools for employees to energize their work force regularly. It goes without saying that it is an effective business tool for a great or smart organization. Organizations dealing with the theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ must go for it, because sooner or later any organization for its proper growth and sustainability needs it.

About the Author:

munir-chowdhuryMoinuddin Chowdhury is an M.A (English), CTESOL, PGDHRD (CU-UK), PGDHRM (ABP-UK), MIT (London). He is the Lead Visionary & Chief Executive Officer  of  Society for Leadership Skills Development (SLSD). He is also an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Department of English in Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB), Dhaka & an Advisor for Microgenix BD Limited.

He’s the founding member and Secretary General of the BOLD-Bangladesh Organization for Learning and Development. Moreover, he’s a motivational speaker, thought leader, author of different books on personal development, management and leadership skills. To know more about him visit www.slsdbd.com or e-mail him at: chowdhurymoin@yahoo.com 

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