Training and Development as an Organization

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The various tasks that training professionals perform are based on a number of variables, including the size of the organization in which they work as well as the organizational goals and objectives. In addition the trainer brings personal skills and knowledge to the organization. Given these many variables trainers may be responsible for a wide variety of roles including:

  • Needs analysis and diagnosis
  • Determining training strategies
  • Program planning and design
  • Developing materials
  • Managing resources, internal and external
  • Delivering training
  • On-the-job training
  • Coaching
  • Organizational development
  • Individual development
  • Research
  • Managing the training function
  • Self-development
In performing these responsibilities, a trainer might be called upon to undertake some or all of the following assignments:
  • Reading business plans

  • Talking to people involved in developing plans

  • Analyzing jobs and functions

  • Analyzing changes and how they affect jobs/functions

  • Analyzing performance problems

  • Designing a curriculum

  • Managing projects

  • Developing budgets

  • Scheduling

  • Developing graphics

  • Developing video or computer-based modules

  • Conducting a pilot program

  • Delivering a training program

  • Diagnosing learning difficulties

  • Coaching

  • Assessing, administering tests

  • Providing feedback

  • Determining a trainee's mastery of objectives

  • Determining a trainee's transfer of skills/knowledge to the job

  • Calculating the cost/value of training

  • Writing reports

  • Measuring results

  • Conducting research

The day-to-day roles and responsibilities of a trainer are largely driven by his or her specific organization's beliefs and values about training. Discovering the answers to the following basic questions about a company will provide you with some very valuable information.
  1. What role does training play in ensuring business performance?

  2. What is training expected to accomplish?

  3. What is the expectation of supervisors/managers?

  4. Is training considered an investment or an expense?

  5. Is continual learning and improvement a core value?

  6. What responsibility does an individual employee have?
An ideal training system is an integrated set of processes that interact to produce business results. This includes five important components: an overall structure that governs the work of training; multi leveled planning; quality operations (design and delivery of training programs); formal results reporting; backup processes (registration, scheduling, facilities, manuals, organizational structure, financial resources, and so forth). Your information assessment of the structure of the training function within an organization should be based on these five essential areas. Completing this process will help you target the strengths and weaknesses of an organization's training system.

Training Program Design/Development

The responsibility for the design and development of training programs is the role of a variety of professionals. The primary role for development is in the hands of a program planner, also called program developer, instructional designer, or training specialist. Those in this position work with subject matter experts, supervisors, managers, administrators, and/or department heads in a collaborative relationship.

A program planner acts as the training process expert and/or manager of the program planning process. An essential element in the process is establishing support for the program. In many organizations there are specific key people who are continually tapped for support. For example, the supervisor of the program's participants can be invaluable in the following:
  • Assisting in the assessment of needs

  • Assisting in scheduling training sessions

  • Reviewing materials

  • Collecting baseline data

  • Attending parts of the program

  • Serving as a resource person or instructor

  • Providing informal feedback on how the program was received

  • Helping participants connect what they are learning in the program to their jobs

  • Encouraging participants to share with peers what they have learned

  • Collecting data for follow-up programs
In addition to seeking the active involvement of supervisors before, during, and after the program, developers also need to assist supervisors with the transfer of learning into the actual work experience.

Senior management's support of the training function-or lack of it-is most often reflected in its budgetary commitment to and public support of training in organization publications and key organization meetings. They can help by publicizing the successful results and benefits of the training programs. Management needs to develop formal policies and procedures concerning training and development activities. You can also ask selected managers/ administrators to become involved in the design of highly visible programs.

Another successful strategy is to establish ownership for training. To do this you might:

  • Identify organization problems and issues for which training might offer solutions

  • Assist in conducting a needs analysis

  • Assist in defining program objectives

  • Review program design drafts

  • Present training results and achievements to senior managers

  • Help locate resources

  • Actively endorse policies and procedures that support quality training

Identifying Needs

Unless a specific training program is mandated as a federal regulation, conducting a needs analysis is one of the best ways of involving people in planning training activities. There is no one accepted best method or process for conducting a formal needs assessment as an organized way to identify specific training needs.

The focus of assessment is to clarify and define problems, not solutions. Because there are endless ways to gather information, the best methods to use are those that produce accurate information. In most cases a variety of methods can be used that already fit into an organization's way of doing business. Data gathering methods useful in conducting a needs assessment might include:
  1. Observations-watching workers doing tasks, jobs

  2. Written questionnaires/surveys-gathering opinions, attitudes, and perceptions in writing

  3. Interviews-talking with people in person or on the phone

  4. Group sessions-brainstorming, participating in focus groups, taking consensus

  5. Job and task analysis-collecting data from a variety of people who know a job (incumbent, supervisor, manager, customer)

  6. Paper-pencil tests-using a diagnostic tool to measure workers' knowledge, skills, and attitudes

  7. Written information-utilizing reports, policies, procedure manuals, employee records, professional standards, and legislation

  8. Informally talking to people-recording and checking out ideas and information
There are two aspects to the process of gathering this information: selecting people to answer the questions and selecting people to ask them. Program designers, with the help of others, then translate the ideas that have been identified in the needs assessment into priority needs for training programs.

It is important to understand that education and training are not always the answer to all the ideas and problems identified during the needs assessment process. However, trainers still have a responsibility for developing and/or initiating any alternative business interventions. Such alternatives might include:
  1. Job aids-supply directions for doing a work task that are simple, concrete, and provide a quick reference.

  2. Redefinition of job/task-provide performance standards, job enrichment, and job rotation.

  3. Feedback system-develop a process for providing information to individuals/group through team meetings and memos.

  4. Personnel practices-change methods of recruitment, screening, hiring, training, and rewarding.

  5. Changes in work environment, facilities, tasks-provide the proper conditions or tools used to do a job.

  6. Organizational development-formulate a plan for improving the organization.

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