Training is traditionally viewed as a set of activities that compel the participants (i.e., employees) to acquire a set of specific skills. There are, however, other ways of looking at the process of training. Particularly, some studies suggest looking at training as a “process whereby the trainer imparts knowledge and skills to the trainee” (Wan, 2013, p. 5). From a broader perspective, training can be viewed as the process of the trainer and the trainee’s interaction, which is supposed to help “transfer knowledge, teach skills, or transform behavior in support of the achievement of an organization’s goals” (Wan, 2013, p. 5).
Other theorists imply that training is a “process of tool development, application, testing and verification” (Durlach & Lesgold, 2012, p. 319), therefore, focusing on the aspects of training involving personal progress and the evolution of the trainee on a professional level. However, when it comes down to identifying which one nails down the very essence of training, one must give due credits to Wan (2013), who pointed out the property of training such as promoting interactions between the trainee and the trainer, at the same time focusing on the needs of the organization. Apart from being all-embracive as opposed to the rest of the definitions provided, it reveals the underlying implication of training as a means to bridge the needs of an organization and those of the staff.
Five Implications for a First-Level Supervisor
Based on the definition of training suggested above, a supervisor must make sure that the training sessions should be consistent. Seeing that training involves the development of particular behavioral patterns, it is imperative that the training process should involve repetitive elements that could contribute to the further acquisition of the required habits by the trainee. Thus, the required behavioral patterns can be consolidated at a subconscious level.
Another essential [piece of information that may be derived from the specified definition concerns the design of training sessions. Since, by definition, training is supposed to help an employee develop specific behavioral patterns, it is essential that the lessons should be memorable enough for the staff members to become engaged and assume the behavioral model provided as the example to comply with.
It is also important to bear in mind that even a set of exhaustive training sessions cannot cover all possible scenarios that a staff member may encounter in the course of work. Herein the need for the supervisor to make sure that the training process should prompt critical thinking lies. Particularly, training should not merely produce specific regulations that employees must follow but suggest the decision-making pattern that the latter may use in their daily work.
At this point, the fourth implication regarding the promotion of independence in the workplace lies. Although a manager must supervise the performance of the staff, it is also crucial that the latter should promote independence. Particularly, the employees must be able to make decisions related to their work on their own.
Finally, the fact that training is supposed to change the employees’ decision-making patterns consciously means that the staff should be able to engage in lifelong and self-directed learning. To be more specific, the supervisor must make sure that the employees are provided with information on how to educate themselves later. As a result, the leader will promote active professional development among the target population.
Training as Experience and the Phenomenon of Andragogy
When carrying out the training process, one must keep in mind that age is an important factor in defining the teaching strategy. Training adults is quite different from teaching a younger audience; therefore, it is imperative that the training process should be based on the needs and capacities of the target population specifically. In respect to the demands of the adult part of the population, one must deploy the key tenets of andragogy to shape the training.
Traditionally defined as “the art and science of teaching and facilitating the learning of adults” (Edwards, Hanson, & Thorpe, 2013, p. 115), andragogy allows shaping the training process so that it could address the needs of adults. Particularly, the specified tool helps turn training into an experience that adult trainees may derive certain lessons from (Shalin, 2014). More importantly, the specified approach suggests that adult learners should be able to make choices related to the organization and their role in it on their own, therefore, developing the quality of corporate social responsibility (CSR) (Okpara & Idowu, 2013).
The latter is typically addressed as a “way of actively contributing to the society’s basic order, in doing so enhancing the company’s reputation” (Gonzalez-Perez & Leonard, 2013, p. 135) and involves a deep understanding of one’s roles in a specific organization as well as willingness to strive for the benefit of the company. Eventually, the promotion of andragogy as the basis for the training process may lead to employees accepting the concept of corporate citizenship, which presupposes that both the firm and its staff should recognize and accept their duties and responsibilities to each other (Fairholm, 2011, p. 168).
Sample Program Design
Type of Organization
The training in question has been designed for a corporation, which is going to enter the realm of the global economy and, therefore, needs to gain enough competitiveness. The Adventure Street, Co. promotes innovation and staff satisfaction as its key objectives. However, over the past few years, the company has been delivering rather mediocre results, which may affect its chances of integrating into the global market.
The people opting for the specified position will have to learn to assemble at least five toys in ten minutes by putting the corresponding parts together either manually or with the help of the corresponding tools (e.g., tweezers, pliers, etc.). The percentage of defective products must not exceed 0.5% of the total number of toys assembled during the shift.
The candidate for the position must be able to paint specific toys (particularly, dolls and action figures) manually by choosing the right hue and applying the paint to the corresponding part of the toy. The percentage of defective products must not exceed 0.5% of the total number of toys painted during the shift.
Quality assurance member
A QAM must identify flaws in the products after they are assembled and painted so that faulty production should not be delivered to the end customer. The percentage of mistakes made by a QAM must not exceed 0.01% of all toys produced.
The applicants must demonstrate impressive leadership skills and be able to enhance the staff’s performance. It is required that the supervisor’s actions should not lead to a drop in the staff’s performance and that all employees should display enthusiasm and be motivated.
As far as the key tasks of the training program are concerned, one must mention that the specified program is aimed at several outcomes. To be more specific, the following tasks will have to be accomplished:
- Enhancing the staff’s decision-making skills;
- Training the employees’ skills concerning the production process;
- Creating the premises for the employees’ further professional growth;
- Promoting independence among the subordinates;
- Increasing motivation rates among the staff;
- Developing the principles of CSR among the staff;
- Shifting the employees’ values and ethics to company-oriented ones.
As the list above shows, the objectives of the training can be defined as twofold. First and most obvious, the performance of the staff must be enhanced by applying direct methods such as the improvement of their skills and the acquisition of new ones. Particularly, the speed and quality of toy assembling and painting need to be brought up. However, there is an additional set of objectives that are related to the leadership issues in the organization and the choices that the staff members make. As long as the employees learn to make decisions based on the company’s ethics and values, therefore, displaying corporate responsibility, the change in the leadership approach can be considered successful, and the company will be ready to enter the global economy environment.
- Helping employees attain the skills required for self-directed learning;
- Teaching the staff members to develop the required skills related to toys manufacturing;
- Improve the leadership strategy so that the managers could motivate the employees for better performance.
Therefore, it is expected that the staff members should acquire the skills that go beyond completing basic tasks related to their job. Apart from the ability to assemble and paint toys, the employees will have to become active learners. In other words, they will have to understand how to educate themselves.
Training and Development Activities
In order to train the above-mentioned skills, one will have to create the challenging environments, in which the staff will be supposed to carry out specific tasks related to the development of speed and precision in their job. Particularly, these include the tasks that involve drawing a specific shape and picking a particular shade of color with the help of a color palette instead of the color swatches.
As far as the speed of assembling toys is concerned, the specified ability can be developed with the help of the corresponding activities. Particularly, the candidates will have to combine toy parts at an increasing speed following a specific pattern; thus, the specific movements can be trained, and the employees will be able to assemble toys mechanically.
Finally, the decision-making skills will be trained by providing the trainees with specific scenarios and suggesting that they should identify at least three options, choose the one that they find the most suitable and adequate solution. The trainees will have to provide support for the choices that they will make.
Training Approaches for Adults
It is important to keep in mind that, unlike teenagers, adults know exactly what they want from a certain learning process (Mayo, 2014). In other words, adult learners set very specific expectations for the training outcomes. While the specified characteristics of AL can be viewed as an advantage, as the trainees have specific goals that they will strive for, it may also become a hindrance if these goals do not align with the organization’s objectives. Thus, the application of the approach known as self-directed learning (Kop & Fournier, 2010) should be viewed as the first choice of the trainer.
The above-mentioned strategy will help adult learners get their priorities straight and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills in a timely and efficient fashion. Seeing that the self-directed approach addresses the learner’s self-concept, it is perfect for the needs of the target population.
Training Approaches for Teenagers
Despite the fact that adults outnumber teenagers in the specified scenario, the needs and the specific learning styles of the latter will have to be taken into account when designing the learning program. Particularly, the fact that the emphasis on the use of tools such as games and other entertaining activities, e.g., use of social networks in the process, will have to be used in the process needs to be brought up (Adams et al., 2013). Although the use of games as the means for the target audience to acquire specific skills also works for adult learners quite well (Wang, 2010), it is the younger audience that requires it most. Hence, the incorporation of entertaining elements and gaming activities will have to be considered as the primary teaching strategy (Göbel, Mueller, & Urban, 2013).
Activities for Adults
The activities for adults will include the analysis of specific scenarios with the following discussion of the choices that can be made to address the dilemmas created in the specified situations. Moreover, the adults will have to carry out a set of very basic tasks that will help them develop mechanical skills of using the IT tools in question. For instance, the specified activities may include the input of data regarding specific activities in the corresponding database and the further analysis of the specified data with the help of the tools required.
Apart from the above-mentioned tasks, the adults will also be asked to join a discussion forum, in which they will be able to ask questions regarding the workflow and answer to the questions that the participants will have. The specified activity can be viewed as the interactive basis for engaging the target denizens of the population into the process of using IT tools for promoting progress among students.
Activities for Teenagers
The teenagers, in their turn, will also have to participate in online discussions of the subject matter; however, the specified discussions will have to be moderated carefully so that the participants could address the topic, which are unrelated to the subject matter, but still make sure that the discussion should not reel off the track.
Apart from active participation in online discussions, the teenagers will also be invited to acquire new information concerning the changes in the tasks evaluation. Particularly, the students will be suggested to perform a series of small tasks and evaluate each other’s results online. Thus, the learners will be able to realize what the new requirements regarding tasks completion are and understand how the process of evaluation will be carried out. The learners will also have an opportunity to leave their feedback on the corresponding Facebook page that announces the event in question.
The specified set of activities will help the students accept the changes made to the standard curriculum and adapt to them instead of denying them. By communicating with each other and their tutors, learners will be able to voice their concerns, therefore, being sure that their voice has been heard. Thus, the learners’ confidence can be built, increasing the chances for their further academic success.
Role of Enhanced Technology for Training and Development in a Global Economy
As it has been stressed above, the significance of technology application in the process of training for both teenagers and adults is impossible to overrate. Technology allows for a fast and accurate transfer of data, therefore, reducing the threat of a misunderstanding or a misconception to a minimum (Kaiser, Kaminsky, & Foley, 2013). Particularly, the information delivered with the help of technological advances can be transferred from the teacher to the student without data distortion.
Additionally, the incorporation of technology into the learning process presupposes that the teacher may adopt a student-centered learning. To be more exact, the communication tools created with the help of the latest IT advances allow for a direct communication process between the teacher and every student. As a result, an individual approach to each learner can be designed and adopted successfully without disrupting the flow of the lesson (Trentin, 2011).
Finally, the issue of interaction deserves to be mentioned. Unlike traditional learning setting, which involves standard activities requiring students to submit answers to a set of questions, the adoption of IT technologies and the related tasks invites an opportunity for interactive studies. Therefore, the premises for learners to become more engaged in the process can be created (Blackensee, 2014).
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