8 Jun 2019

INDUSTRIAL AND ORGANISATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY



1.0  INTRODUCTION

Training has long been a fundamental concern in organizational contexts. Organizations rely on learning strategies, training technology and development efforts to prepare their workforce (Salas et al., 2006). In today’s global economy, the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to maintain a competitive advantage are growing and changing (Arguinis & Kraiger, 2009). As the nature of work changes, employees are increasingly required to develop a wide, mutable set of skills that are essential to the success of their organizations. Yet few workers possess the cultural competence, interpersonal skills and technological proficiency required for these changing work demands.

In response to these issues, most organization including governments spend billions of money on employee training and development every year (Paradise, 2007). Training can be defined as the systematic acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes that together lead to improved performance in a specific environment (Salas et al., 2006). This encompasses what employees need to know, what they need to do and what they need to feel in order to successfully perform their jobs. Training is focused on producing permanent cognitive and behavioural changes, and on developing critical competencies for job performance. Organizations make increasingly large investments in training because it serves as a powerful tool for producing the targeted cognitive, behavioural and affective learning outcomes essential for their survival (Salas & Stagl, 2009). Effective training can yield higher productivity, improved work quality, increased motivation and commitment, higher morale and teamwork, and fewer errors, culminating in a strong competitive advantage (Salas et al., 2006). On the other hand, a poorly trained workforce can lead to errors, injuries and even legal issues, all of which can be extremely costly.

Thus, this paper is prepared to discuss analyze the discourse of training and development in the point of view of Training Need Analysis (TNA). Other than that, this paper will also evaluate the pre-training environment and the pre-training attributes of the employees. At the end of this paper, two methods of training and development will be proposed accordingly to improve the training and development of employees in general.

2.0  TRAINING NEEDS ANALYSIS

In determining the objectives of organizational training is to identify the training needs of its employees. Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is conducted in an organization to determine corporate and individual objectives and how training programmes can help achieve these objectives.

A TNA is the systematic investigation of training needs within an organization. It is part of a process which integrates training with the business or development plans of an organization. A TNA provides information on the training and skills development requirements of all members in an organization. It is one of the key steps in preparing a training plan and will provide managers with information on which to base organization training plan.

TNA enables managers to:

  • Identify the gap between current and required levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude
  • Identify what the general content of training should be
  • Form the foundation of a training plan
  • Provide a baseline for the evaluation of a training plan
  • Ensure that appropriate and relevant training is delivered
  • Maximize use of scarce resources

Other than that, TNA also benefits the organization in many ways. It also identifies performance goals and the knowledge, skills and abilities needed by a company’s workforce to achieve those goals, identifies gaps in training provision in sectors and or regions, helps direct resources to areas of greatest priority and addresses resources needed to fulfil the organizational mission, improve productivity, and provide quality products and services.

Training must be relevant to member companies and meet their needs while simultaneously enhancing the staff’s existing skills levels. By conducting an extensive TNA for organization's network and delivering training to meet the requirements of member companies, organization can experience a variety of benefits such as improved profitability, lower staffing costs, production improvements and staff development. The focus should be placed on the collective needs identified by member companies that add value and impact to their competitiveness while also developing the employability of the workforce.

Although the benefits of TNA are obvious, a study found that only six per cent of organization conduct proper TNA before designing a training programme (Arthur, Bennet, Edens & Bell, 2003). Being time consuming and expensive are some reasons why TNA is not conducted in an organization (Schultz & Sghultz, 2006).

In order to achieve the objectives of TNA, another two important aspects in training development is pre-training environment and also pre-training attributes of employees that will be discuss in the next chapters.


3.0  PRE-TRAINING ENVIRONMENT

The pre-training environment includes the decision or cues communicated directly or indirectly to employees on an organization by managers and peers that indicate the value of top management places on training programmes in organization (Schultz & Schultz, 2010). The factors include the training opporturnities provided by the organization, supervisors. attitude towards training programmes, resource available for training and the workers' participation in TNA. All the factors can influence the effectiveness of a training programme because the tell the participants how supportive their company is when it comes to training and development.

All these factors can be assessed by employing multiple data-collection methods (e.g., observation, surveys, interviews, and individual and organizational performance) to determine where in the organization training is needed, which individuals require training, and what knowledge or skills are required. When this fundamental step is omitted, management may inadvertently believe training is needed when the symptoms stem from a different problem. For example, management may assume that poor guest service among front-desk employees is due to a lack of appropriate interpersonal skills. However, careful investigation may show that inappropriate staff scheduling, low employee morale, inadequate compensation, or lack of resources is the real cause of the problem.

Once training needs are identified, concrete learning objectives must be established and appropriate training methods defined and implemented. The training methods depend on the program’s objectives. Methods include on-the-job training and on- or off-site classroom instruction through such means as lectures, demonstrations, exercises, games, role plays, and simulations. Each of these methods has its own advantages and is best employed under circumstances dictated by the desired outcomes (Wexley & Latham, 1991). Moreover, the trainer’s own personal characteristics and qualifications have a substantial impact on the presentation, the trainees’ receptiveness, and the extent to which the trainees learn from the experience.

Finally, training efforts must be systematically evaluated to determine whether the desired outcomes have been achieved. Donald Kirkpatrick, a pioneer in the field of training evaluation, established four primary criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of any formal or informal training program Kirkpatrick, 1967). These criteria are:

  1. reactions to training (trainees’ affective responses to the training experience and their perceptions of its value);
  2. knowledge acquisition (the extent to which trainees know more after training than before);
  3. changes in job-related behavior and performance that result from training; and
  4. improvements in organizational level results, such as increased customer satisfaction and greater profitability.

Kirkpalrick (1967) argued that training reactions and learning are two criteria that may be used for evaluating the effectiveness of any training program. It is fairly well accepted that learning, which may be partially defined in terms of knowledge acquisition, can occur only when individuals have both the ability (“can do”) and the desire (“will do”) to acquire new knowledge (Noe, 1986; Wexley and Latham, 1991). Although a number of studies have examined the “can do” factors (for example, ability), few have considered the “will do” factors. One of those that may influence learning as well as training reaction is pretraining motivation.

Noe and Schmitt (1986) conducted one of the first studies to explore the influence of pre-training environment. These researchers found that a composite measure, including three distinct though related dimensions of motivation (that is, effort-performance expectancies, performance-outcome expectancies, and motivation to learn), was significantly related to learning and that learning had a significant influence on a measure of job performance. These results demonstrate the importance of pre-training environment for training effectiveness and have been replicated in subsequent research efforts (for example, Baldwin and Magjuka1991; Mathieu, Tannenbaum, and Salas, 1992).

Thus, the more training opportunities are present, the more likely the workers will perceive and believe that training and development is an important and relevant activity for them. Ideally if these conditions are met, the training programmes is more likely to be effective (Schultz & Schultz, 2010). However, the pscyhological characteristics of employees can also influence their desire to learn (or not to learn). The characteristics will be examined in detail in the following chapter.

4.0  PRE-TRAINING ATTRIBUTES OF EMPLOYEES

As discussed in the previous chapter, employee’s psychological characteristics and traits can influence their deisre to learn (or not to learn) in a training programme. These psychological characteristics and traits can be categorize into six section which includes:

Figure 1: Psychological characteristics and traits that impacts desire to learn

In order to identify individual differences, few test like cognitive ability test, biographical data and performance in initial training experience such a work sample exercise can be employ to determine the level of the differences.

What a employees expects from a training programme can impact his or her training experience. A study in a call center in Germany found that those whose expectations were fulfilled by their training programme learned significantly better than those whose expectations were not met (Rowold, 2007).

Other than that, when a employee's training expectation is not met, he or she is less likely to complete the training program. Overall, employees whose training expectation is not met are also more likely to be dissatisfied with their job, have a lower sense of work commitment and have high chances of quitting the company (Schultz & Schultz, 2006).

Several studies have found (and supported) that employee’s motivation to learn and attend training has an effect on their skill acquisition, retention, and willingness to apply the newly acquired skills on the job (Martocchio & Webster 1992).

Pre-training motivation to learn is defined as the trainees' desire to learn the content of a training program before they attend a training program (Facteau, Dobbins, Russell, Ladd & Kudisch, 1995). Since trainees’ pre-training motivation to learn can determine the focus and the level of effort in a training program, it is a focal factor that may enhance training effectiveness, especially learning outcomes and transfer (Wiethoff, 2004). Training research found that pre-training motivation to learn positively affects learning and transfer of training (Colquitt, LePine, & Noe, 2000). If trainees are not highly motivated to learn the content of diversity training, they may not actively engage in the training program and cannot improve skills and knowledge regarding diversity. Consequently, trainees who are not motivated to learn are less likely to transfer their knowledge and skills learned from the diversity training back to the job (Facteau et al., 1995).

Schultz and Schultz (2010), found that the employees who is more involved in his or her job shows higher motivation in learning that the employees who is less involved. Subsequently, employees who are less involved with their jobs have a lower potential in showing improvement in their job performance as a result of their training.

Other than that, Noe (1986) proposed that the involvement of employees in an open problem, experimentation and exposure during training all influence their motivation. It also plays a critical role in achieving training success.

Locus of control is the belief that things or situations can or cannot be controlled by themselves. This variable affects the employee’s motivation in learning. For example, employees who have a high internal locus of control believe job rewards such as pay and promotion are under their personal control whereas workers who have a high external locus of control believe life events are beyond their control. They are more likely to depend on luck, chance or whether their boss likes them or not (Schultz & Schultz, 2010)

Employees who have a high internal locus of control are likely to be highly motivated to succeed in a training programme as they believe that the ability to master certain skills or knowledge is within their control. In comparison, employees who have a high external locus of control are less likely to be motivated to success in a training programme.

Self-efficacy, which has also been linked to the employee’s attributes, can be defined as a judgment an individual makes about his or her ability to perform a given task (Bandura, 1982). The higher the employee's self-efficacy, the more confidence they will have in their ability to successfully acquire targeted skills and perform trained tasks. In challenging situations, individuals with low self-efficacy are more likely to lessen or discontinue their effort, whereas those with high self-efficacy are more likely to exert additional effort in order to meet the challenge (Robbins & Judge, 2009).

Employees higher in self-efficacy have more confidence in their ability to learn and apply trained competencies, and are more likely to persist when performing difficult tasks Blume et al. (2010).


5.0  RECOMMENDATION METHODS FOR TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

In the contemporary training development sector, there is a huge collection of training programmes. Depending on the objectives of the training programmes, the abilities of the employees and the nature of the information to be learned, different training programmes utilize different techniques.

Hence, in this chapter two recommendation for methods of training and development will be discussed with the appropriate justification.

Interactive employee training techniques keep employees engaged, which makes them more receptive to new information. These techniques incorporate group discussions, which is one of the best ways for more knowledgeable employees to pass their skills onto new employees. In other words, discussions provide open communication among the trainees and with the trainer.

Brainstorming is incorporated and any confusion is addressed. Interactive training also uses demonstrations. Demonstrations are powerful training tools as they involve use of tools and equipment to showcase the steps being taught or the main processes being adopted. Other techniques under this category include use of case studies, active summaries, quizzes, Q&A sessions, question cards, participant control, and role playing. These training techniques make training fun and more enjoyable as employees interact freely while still absorbing essential skills necessary for better performance.

What more interestingly about interactive employee training techniques is also it allows employees getting involved in real life situation such error management. Error management is a related training strategy that has also proven to effectively in training development (Burke & Hutchins, 2007). It allows employees to make errors and providing error management instructions have emerged as effective ways to facilitate the proper use of targeted knowledge and skills in the workplace. Heimbeck et al. (2003), for example, found that training development was greater for employees who were provided with error training and error management instructions as compared to trainees who received error training alone or those who were prevented from making errors during the training process. Error-based training allows trainees to anticipate what can go wrong, and equips them with the knowledge of how to handle potential problems. Furthermore, such training can enhance the perceived utility of training by exemplifying negative outcomes that can occur without the acquisition of trained skills (Burke & Hutchins, 2007).

With the numerous technological advances, many companies mostly rely on online resources to deliver training. According to many studies, the number of companies using e-learning training is increasing and it is predicted that it will continue to rise with time.

This method of training is becoming more prevalent due to the fact that the internet is becoming increasingly accessible. One example of this type of training is WalkMe, the guidance and engagement platform that provides immediate and direct training for employees in the moment of need.

Additionally, it is important to keep the employees involved and engaged in order to encourage that they retain new information. For better results, experts recommend using some softer training methods that are not necessarily needed to convey any information, but are effective in making receiving data or instructions an enjoyable experience. They include use of humor, use of attractive learning materials (professional packaging sets a good first impression), encouraging participation, and building self-esteem. These methods help create a win-win environment by building the participants confidence and making the training more interesting.

The adoption of this technique will mirror the environment in which trained competencies will be applied as closely as possible. Organizations should go as far as conducting on-the-job training, which is include the application of technology and internet which takes place in the actual physical and social environment where the tasks being trained will be performed (Salas et al., 2006). Trained skills are more likely to transfer to the job following training in this case because they were learned and practiced in the work environment. Training settings that closely resemble multiple aspects of the workplace, however, can also be effective. Kraiger (2003), for example, summarized training techniques that have been shown to enhance transfer. These include the use of identical elements, stimulus variability and varying conditions of practice. Such strategies allow employees to gain experience with multiple conditions that can occur on the job. Similarly, practice scenarios should encompass characteristics of the actual work environment (Salas et al., 2006).


6.0  CONCLUSIONS

In this competitive world, where nothing is static, every day an innovation comes into the market. This made the organization to be progressive in their business process and keep on implementing the changes so that they will be competitive in the market. Thus, organizations generally provide training to their employees for better utilization of their skills. Also, they know the importance of training and development impact on the organization.

Hence, in providing the right training to employees TNA plays the most important steps to achieve the objective as discussed in chapter two of this paper. TNA conducting a proper diagnosis of what needs to be trained, for whom, and within what type of organizational system. The outcomes of this step are (a) expected learning outcomes, (b) guidance for training design and delivery, (c) ideas for training evaluation, and (d) information about the organizational factors that will likely facilitate or hinder training effectiveness. It is, however, important to recognize that training is not always the ideal solution to address performance deficiencies, and a well conducted TNA can also help determine whether a non-training solution is a better alternative.

Recommendations for methods of training and development as discussed in chapter five is a few examples from many techniques developed in training development. The recommendation is based on the contemporary needs in globalization era in business organization. However, the techniques may prove time consuming or expensive. But, Despite the potential drawbacks, training and development provides both the company as a whole and the individual employees with benefits that make the cost and time a worthwhile investment.

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