Learning and Development

Explain why the ‘systematic’ approach to Learning & Development is so important for organisation, and identify some of the critical success factors in its adoption. Introduction Learning and development achieve aims for individuals and for the organisations performance management. Learning and development can help organisations to improve performance, meet their strategic objectives or become high performing organisations, want to increase profits, increase market share and provide better services for customers.Foot & Hook (2008), in order to achieve these things performance management is the key to help recruit, select, develop, motivate and retain the most talented people. In recent years organisations have switched from training and development to learning and development in order to help develop the knowledge of workers as fully as possible due to the fact that organisations have moved from being a large manufacturing economy to a more flexible service and knowledge based society.Therefore learning and development is mostly still commonly known as training and development but ‘learning’ is a far better expresses than ‘training’, as training is about the organisation and learning is about the person as according to businessballs. com (2010) If organisations want to encourage learning in order to retain its employees. They must encourage learning and to develop a culture that recognises learning in a number of different ways and to provide experiences to learn but not all organisations tend to encourage learning and development.

According to Foot & Hook 2008 the UK government has many ways to encourage learning and development initiatives such as offering National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), new deal and apprenticeships so that this can help organisations be proactive in the learning and development environment. Kelly (2010), when entering a new job or responsibility, people would usually have already acquired a certain amount of knowledge, skills and attitudes. These can be gained from previous education, influence of social and cultural background and life experiences.Therefore training would take place to perform their job better and constitute to a learning experience. Learning experience would have to be designed to meet an each individual’s needs therefore organisations would need to use a step by step process in order to design a learning experience, in which a systematic approach would help the organisations to do this. A systematic approach helps ensure a comprehensive training process that focuses on the organisation’s needs.A systematic approach can be often referred to the systematic training cycle (see appendix 1.

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1). The training cycle includes a number of phrases which are: 1. Assessing the learning needs It is important for organisations to assess what learning and development is needed within their organisations for its departments, teams and individuals. As according to Rubus Associates (2008), this is the most important part as failure to get the analysis right it would mean that the learning solution would not be right.Learning and development can be assessed in many ways and is often done for individuals using the performance appraisal process or personal development review. To do this the person organising the Learning and development event or process would need to be clear about what the individual, team or organisation needs to know or to be able to do or the competencies they need to have acquired after the learning and development has taken place.The first task is to analyse the individual’s existing job role to understand how the proposed change will impact on the job role as the systematic training cycle will help with demonstrating the gap between what is presently accomplished and what will need to be accomplished. To assess the learning needs, it is important to set clear objectives for the learning and development training so that this can help individuals be clear on what they will achieve and whether they would be focused on achieving the objectives.

SMART objectives are recommended when setting out objectives, as according to Foot & Hook (2008), SMART stands for: • Specific • Measurable • Achievable • Realistic • time Therefore assessing the learning needs is about the organisations systematically investigating the current and future learning requirements in relation to the organisations operating environment. 2. Design of learning activities Once the HR has decided the objectives for the learning and development, they would be able to plan a programme that uses a variety of techniques in order to achieve the objectives in the most effective way.The role of the design is to produce a programme that will meet the needs of the organisation and the learner. HR will need to ensure that everyone is aware in advance of what will be involved in the learning and development event including its time and location of the running event. Once the learning and development needs have been identified, the supervisors can choose to have either an in house learning and development options which is often done internally by the organisation’s or the organisation’s can opt to have an external learning and development provider.

As according to D’Amico (2006), in house training has its advantages as it can become efficient in establishing the company goals therefore everyone working within that organisation would hear the same message at the same time and in house training could motivate employees as it can offer flexibility for employees to choose their hours and it does not conflict with work schedules. However in house training can have its limitations too as this can be very expensive to set up.External training can also have its advantages as is4profit (2010) is that external training are done by specialists whom the trainers have spent years designing a training course and can bring the employees up to date with the best practices but external training can have its limitations to an organisation as this can be expensive and employees would have to spend time out of the business therefore meaning work productivity from employees will fall due to time being spent out.According to a CIPD’s annual survey (2008), they found 61 percent of organisations use in house development programmes and that there had been a rise of in house development programmes within the last two years. Therefore this statistics show that organisations tend to prefer using in house development programmes.

Once the supervisors have decided which learning and development programme they want to adapt, either in house or external than they can decide to use a number of learning techniques or choose which techniques they would want to use in order to suit the organisation.The kind of learning techniques can be in a number of different methods which could be: • Lectures • Role play • Computer based training • Projects • Group discussions or online group discussions • In tray exercises • Audio or video conferencing • Podcasts • Guided reading • Case studies These are the number of techniques that an organisation’s would use as part of their training activities in order for employees to learn and develop their skills. However according to the CIPD’s annual survey (2008), they found that 53 percent of organisations tend to use the coaching by line manager’s technique.Therefore this shows that some organisations tend not to have learning and development programmes as coaching by the line manager’s technique can be a cheaper alternative way to motivate and retain employees. Also the CIPD found that on the job training is another technique that organisations tend to use with 43 percent of organisations favouring on the job training. 3. Delivery of the learning activities This stage is about delivering the event, once the learning and development programme is identified.Therefore the event needs to be implemented so that the organisation can start using the event.

Also during this stage as according to JSboard (2010), the supervisors must ensure that the learning is effective and provides the opportunities for learners to learn and they could do this by choosing the most appropriate format for training needs and taking advantage of the different training methods. Also supervisors are required at this stage to monitor the development of individual learners and review their progress. 4. Evaluating the learningThis stage is an important stage to the cycle as according to Findlay (2004); as he found that it is still true to say that many learning and development specialist do not evaluate the outcomes of their work at the end of the course. Therefore meaning that organisations would not know if it has been successful event or not, if objectives are being met or not and this could have wasted the organisation’s money and resources if the event was not very effective. According to Kirkpatrick (1994) whom argues that there should be four levels of evaluation in the process.

The four levels of evaluations (see appendix 1. 2) are: 1. Reactions 2. Learning 3. Transfer 4.

Results This at first, at the end of the learning and development event, the participants should be measured on their reactions to the events, the second part is to measure what the participants have learnt from the event, third part is to measure whether what was learnt is being applied to the job role or not and lastly the fourth evaluation is to measure whether the application of learning has achieved any results.These four levels of evaluations can be done by a simple questionnaire by participants to fill out at the end of the event or comments from participants and face to face interviews. However there are criticisms of Kirkpatrick four levels of evaluation framework.As according to Craig (1996), argues that Kirkpatrick should have included post-training appraisal three or more months after the training to ensure that learners put into practice what they have learned but Kirkpatrick (1994) argues that he believes that evaluations should be included throughout the training by getting evaluations not only during each session or module but also after each subject or topic. Another criticism of Kirkpatrick four evaluation framework, is that the four levels of evaluations mean very little to the other business units as according to nwlink (2010) cited from Flanagan (2006), this would mean that he evaluations do not have any meaning to business units as when learning leaders write and speak in terms of levels of evaluation to their business colleagues, it tends to confuse the other person rather than clarify the issues and would contribute to a lack of understanding to business and learning functions. Even though there are criticisms of Kirkpatrick four levels evaluation framework, organisations today are still using his idea’s to evaluate after an learning and development event.According to Thomson (2004), evaluating “is important as it is a way of combining the assessment of the impact of training and development, which will influence HR and training functions”, this means that it would be in the interest of HR and other training function to evaluate after the event as this ensures learning objectives have been met, so that this can show that organisation have been successful in adding value to the organisation which will make a difference strategically.

There are many other ways of evaluating instead of just using Kirkpatrick’s four levels evaluation framework that organisations can use. Supervisors can use various methods like questionnaires, interviews, assessment tests, self reviews, group or one to one discussions with the learner and cost analysis of the learning and development as according to Foot & Hook (2008)However evaluating at the end of an event is important, as according to the CIPD 2007 fact sheet, is that there are four reasons to why learning and development should be evaluated and these are to help prove the value of training to an organisation, to help improve the quality of training for the future training, evaluate so that it can contribute to the learning processes and to evaluate so that supervisors have control over the training. Benefits and limitations of the systematic approachOrganisations could use the systematic approach as it can help define areas of competence in learning and development and Brookes (1995) points out that the training cycle can help with describing systematically and comprehensively the complete learning and development process, it is familiar in all sectors and to all parts of the learning community and most learning and development roles can be located within. However according to McNamara (2010) adopting a systematic approach to training will help ensure supervisors are getting the most out of themselves and their employees.A systematic approach towards learning and development includes taking time to analyse what the organisation needs are from its employees and for employees to accomplish those results. Therefore a systematic approach will help assess and evaluate approaches before, during and after the training to ensure so that employees have benefited from the training. A systematic approach to learning and development could help contribute to the organisations goals and objectives to enable its success.

As for example Lloyds TSB has its own in house training centre to enable learning and development for their employees so that they can gain the learning and skills required for their job roles to enable performance within the organisation. [see( http://www. lloydstsb. com/accessibility/rnid_charter.

asp(2010)] A systematic approach can have its advantages as if it is delivered correctly it can help an individual enhance its career development system within organisations but according to Werner (2008) it would be ideal that senior management should conduct and evaluate a pilot program before implementing a full blown program.Another advantage of the systematic approach to organisations is that the cycle offers a rational and methodical approach to the design, delivery and evaluations of Human Resource Development interventions so that they can provide a effective learning needs analysis as according to JSboard (2010) Even though the systematic approach has its advantages to learning and development, however there are criticisms of the approach towards learning and development.Systematic training cycle only focuses on training rather than the individualised learning and is more suited to a stable working environment than a rapidly changing environment.

As according to Torrington (2008) cited by Harrison (2005) argues that the cycle is not necessarily the most appropriate to use as it falls far short of the messy world of practice and does not focus adequately on learning. This would mean that the systematic approach does not focus on individuals learning needs but mainly on training.However Torrington (2008) cited by Soloman (2001) argues that the systematic cycle tends to have fitted the 1960s mood for rationality and efficiency, but it is somewhat mechanical and fits less well with fast pace continuous change. Therefore this means that organisations whom are not constantly changing their environment would be able to adapt to the systematic approach and it would work well in a stable environment but a rapidly changing environment has is its advantages as to stay ahead of competition or to gain competitive advantage, organisations would need to keep changing their environment most of the time in order to achieve this.Also there are other potential disadvantages of using the framework as according to JSboard (2010) and these include that the systematic approach can be too inflexible, too mechanistic, too time-consuming, too reliant on the role of the trainer, is limited input by other stakeholders and can be counter-intuitive in some situations.Also there are also different factors affecting learning and development as individuals are motivated by different thing instead of just being motivated by learning and development activities alone, these other factors can include incentives, encouragement or rewards.

However even though there are many criticisms to the systematic approach framework, many organisations still tend to adopt the framework in order to help achieve their strategic objectives. ConclusionTo conclude, the systematic approach to learning and development can have its advantages if organisations tend to follow the framework properly and also to monitor and retain its employees after using the systematic framework, organisations can see a number of differences it can make to an organisation when the organisation invests in learning and development for its staff, these could include seeing employees being motivated therefore they would perform more outputs, fewer mistakes, improved quality, reduced costs, reduce staff turnover, increase retention, more effective use of resource and human resources and lastly employees would be able to clearly identify their career opportunities. Even though there are many criticisms that the systematic approach is catered towards just training, there are still many organisations still using this framework in order to achieve their strategic objectives and goals. However the framework can benefit both the organisation and the individual’s as the organisation would benefit from the performance and enhanced talent from employees whilst the individual’s can benefit from the learning experience and would be able to identify their career goals or paths.However the systematic approach is important to organisations as its factors include improving individual’s learning therefore individuals will be constantly be up to date with new resources each time they are in the training event which will help organisations have the opportunity for growth and development when its employees are constantly being kept up to date with the latest learning methods as without new skills and information, organisations would not be able to have the opportunity for growth and development so that they can maintain a competitive advantage within their chosen markets. As companies that progress in learning and development it could open doors for employee satisfaction which employees would perform better as they are vital to an organisation in order to achieve growth and development in the future.

Author: Cristina Holland


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