Training and development are critical to the organisation in a number of ways:
A personal development plan focuses on identifying and actioning the short, medium and long-term development requirements of the employee that arise out of the performance appraisal process. The development requirements should centre on the skills, knowledge and capabilities required of individuals to effectively undertake their job responsibilities both in the present and the future, and also to further their career goals.
When preparing personal development plans, the emphasis should be on employee self-development and the plans should include:
The development plan should include a description of the development activities that will be undertaken to achieve the skills and knowledge requirements (i.e. the development objectives).
The learning and development activities may include any number of the following:
Generally speaking, if you require a staff member to attend a training course or participate in learning and development activities, you should pay your employees for their time. Where the training can be seen as a learning opportunity open to employees to attend if they wish, and therefore voluntary (e.g. a product information night to enhance ability to sell a product your business stocks) then this does not usually have to be paid. Similarly, where employees wish to complete training, or other self-initiated learning and development activities, it is at the discretion of the employer as to whether or not study leave or other assistance is provided. Any financial or time allowances/assistance provided will of course have likely flow on benefits to the organisation in terms of morale and retention rates.
However a business wishes to approach these issues, details should be included in a relevant policy (e.g. Leave Policy including Study Leave) to avoid ambiguity.
It is a good idea to keep a record of learning and development activities for a number of reasons. Firstly, if an organisation is paying for the L+D activities their employees are attending, there will need to some sort of financial reporting and accountability mechanisms put in place. Records of this nature will also be relevant for evaluation, return of investment and learning and development statistics which will be used by the HR department and senior management. Aside from these, records can be relied upon in performance management processes and disciplinary procedures. It will be particularly beneficial to rely upon specific training being offered to help address a performance issue and where performance has not been improved, considering alternative action which may include termination (depending on the circumstances of course).
No, necessarily. Some individuals lack self-awareness and emotional intelligence which are essential to successfully participatomg in coaching activities. As well as this, some learning and development needs are not well suited to coaching, including completing repetitive tasks and particular and specialist skills which require practice and specialisation.
The main differences between coaching and mentoring are; the goal setting process of each, the type of advice given, the time frames for the relationship to exist and the skills or attributes of the mentor/coach.
Coaching focusses on the acquiring new skills and/or refining performance of specific tasks in the short term. The coach usually sets the goals to be achieved and gives constructive feedback to refine techniques to improve performance. The coach is someone who is able to assist learning of new skills and abilities. In contrast to this, mentoring focusses on longer term career and capability development of an individual, as opposed to short term skill acquisition. The mentor is normally someone who is highly experienced in the field and can provide insights from personal experience and offers a more comprehensive view in terms of the mentees career progression. Mentees can largely set goals to be achieved and mentors can offer feedback and suggestions.
Mentoring focuses on helping employees’ long-term development and emphasises an individual’s career progression. Mentoring involves an experienced, knowledgeable person (the mentor) assisting a lesser experienced person (the mentee) with development in any or all of the following areas:
A mentor is an experienced person who provides assistance, guidance, advice, encouragement and support to a lesser experienced person (the mentee) as a means of fostering the mentee’s professional development.
Mentoring relationships can be conducted with the mentee’s direct manager, outside the mentee’s direct reporting line, or with an experienced professional who is external to the organisation.
The role of the mentor is to:
A mentee can be any person – ranging from a graduate recruit to a senior manager – with an identified career development need.
Coaching is a widely used development tool and performance management technique – it can be used for a number of purposes: one-on-one developmental coaching, team coaching, executive coaching and business coaching. The structure and techniques of coaching may differ based on the manager’s personal style; however all techniques will have one unifying feature: the coaching approach will predominantly be facilitated by the coach asking questions and challenging the coachee to learn from his or her own resources.
The coaching process is underpinned by established trust in the coach. This two-way trusting partnership will assist an employee to achieve growth.
Coaching utilises the work situation as a learning opportunity. It focuses on developing a person’s skills and knowledge to improve job performance. Coaching is effectively ‘learning by doing’ under the supervision of an experienced person. By undertaking a task on-the-job and under the direction of the coach, the coachee acquires skills and knowledge required for their job role.
The coach is generally one of the following:
The selection of the coach will be dependent upon the coaching need.
The coachee is a person who has been identified by the line manager, supervisor or HR practitioner as having a learning need to improve the knowledge or skills required to perform their job.
The training needs analysis is quite a complex task and should be tailored to the organisational setting, the job which is being performed and the individual who is performing it. As a basic guide to conducting a TNA, HR Mangers should follow these steps:
Sources: Tovey & Lawlor, PD.
A training needs analysis (TNA) is the first step in the Learning and development process and should be completed following the job analysis and design process.
A Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is the systematic problem solving exercise of identifying a gap between the current skills and competencies of the job incumbent compared to the ideal skills and competencies needed for a particular job. Once a gap has been identified, a decision needs to be made as to whether this deficiency can be rectified by training, or if in fact it is something which requires alternative action (for example counselling for underperformance and discipline). It is essential to correctly identify training needs in order to design, deliver and measure value to the organisation accurately and demonstrate return on investment.
earning and Development is a process which requires shared support and responsibility from a number of sources. Depending on the size and structure of an organisation, the following are usually responsible for the learning and development activities and outcomes within an organisation:
As with many HR activities, learning and development is a process of collaboration and cannot be viewed in isolation from all other activities. Who is exactly in the learning and development process will depend on the size of an organisation, and in particular, the level of dedicated HR personnel to manage the learning and development function. Whilst it is quite common for larger organisations to have a dedicated learning and development team within the HR Department, smaller organisations may only have one manager who is responsible for all staff and need to manage the learning and development activities of everyone within their business. Regardless of size restraints however, in all circumstances the two main roles responsible for learning and development are the direct managers and individual employees.
Ideally, learning and development should be seen as a continuous activity which is fundamental to achieving continual improvement of individuals and organisations. On a practical level however, the need to train and develop employees is usually triggered by one of the following scenarios:
Employees are new to the organisation and require induction and socialisation. This is sometimes referred to as the “on-boarding process” whereby new recruits become familiar with the organisations cultural norms, expectations, rules and procedures.
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Conduct a training needs analysis. Consider the types of skills and knowledge that need to be acquired – this can help you determine whether a work-related learning technique is suitable, or whether off-the-job learning is required.
The learning and development policy should clearly specify the roles and responsibilities of each party in terms of all processes and procedures associated with learning and development activities of the organisation. Human resource employees are pivotal in creating the learning and development framework for the organisation, and managing the learning and development function across the organisation. The line managers access and use the framework and its structures to identify appropriate learning and development for themselves and their staff members. Line managers also play a major role in helping those within the organisation learn – by coaching, mentoring, delivering training etc.
Some options to combat poor attendance include: communicate the benefits of learning and development; strengthen the links between attendance and the performance appraisal process; explicitly acknowledge attendee completion of learning and development programs; assess the relevance and currency and learning and development activities to ensure they meet the needs of staff members; encourage line managers to reinforce the importance of learning and development programs in building skills and knowledge. In some instances where it is believe that non-attendance is a means of “getting out of work” it may be appropriate to include this behaviour as a form of unauthorised absence from work and could be referred to the unsatisfactory workplace performance policy and procedure for resolution.
HR Managers should take the following approaches when dealing with this issue:
Make sure training needs analyses are undertaken. These analyses should include analysis of position descriptions and person specifications. Also give consideration to the alignment of learning and development initiatives with the organisation’s strategic and operational objectives. Evaluate learning and development activities to ensure transfer of learning back into the workplace, and ask staff for feedback regarding training needs.
Promote learning and development initiatives through line management in the first instance and make professional development a visible component of the performance management process. If you have the means at your disposal, also consider using the organisation’s intranet to promote learning and development by: (a) having a dedicated learning and development portal; and (b) publicising the successes and achievements of staff members in the area of learning and development. For organisations without such systems, an office notice board, or even a rewards scheme for those employees who achieved the highest results in a training course are good initiatives to boost staff buy-in.