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Case Study (Performance): Inventory Management

Submitted by  on February 11th, 2014

pen lying on business reportIn my last blog post on clarifying roles, I explored what happens when training participants turn up for a training program when they are unclear about their role and responsibilities in their organization. This confusion typically happens when the training program is part of a broader change initiative. Such initiatives include the implementation of new systems, additional auditing requirements, an expanded product range, and so on.

In my previous post, I used a case study to illustrate identifying Key Result Areas and specifying tasks for a new Data Entry Officer role. Completing a role and task analysis and assigning roles to specific employees answers the first of two questions I posed. These two questions that need asking and answering before the training program is rolled out are:

  1. What new roles and responsibilities will these changes necessitate? What key result areas will the new roles and responsibilities encompass? Which employees will be impacted?
  2. For each key result area, what are the performance expectations? How can these performance expectations be expressed in terms of measurable objectives and observable behaviors?

(You can read more about the two questions in my Expert View, titled Training Expectations: Roles and Performance.)

In this blog post, I want to go on to consider the second question. With the first question, we ask who will be impacted by the change and how their responsibilities will differ. With the second question, we are asking what performance standards will change. I will draw upon the same scenario I used in my previous blog post.

Roles and Responsibilities is one of eight factors in Leslie Allan’s PRACTICE Approach™ for improving the impact of training. Find out more and get Leslie’s high impact training guide.

In this scenario, an electronics manufacturing business implemented a new inventory management system. The implementation involved a server upgrade and the installation of new software. Over a six week period, the software vendor rolled out a program for all production planning department and warehouse employees.

Three months after the training, the training participants’ managers expressed their disappointment to the Human Resources Manager. They were upset that only a core of production planning and warehouse department staff was using the new system. They were also very dismayed that the expected efficiencies from the new system did not eventuate.

A subsequent role analysis identified the following Key Result Areas across the various employee roles:

  • data management
  • system upgrade and maintenance
  • supplier relations
  • accounting

Following a role analysis, the next step is to list the tasks in each Key Result Area. This analysis is best achieved using the people actually doing the tasks, as they have first-hand experience. The most important thing to remember here is to begin each task statement with a verb (doing word). Using the data management Key Result Area as an example, we can list the tasks as follows.

  • enter Bill of Materials, purchasing and dispatch data into the inventory module
  • customize and print reports as requested from managers
  • audit data for accuracy and produce monthly audit report
  • set up new inventory categories as required

Notice how each task statement starts with a verb (enter …, customize …, audit …, set up …). By sticking to this format, you forge a powerful link between the training program and later workplace performance.

The next step is to transcribe these task statements from the revised role descriptions into learning outcomes for your training program. The learning outcomes for a program are what the training participant is expected to be able to do back on the job as a result of completing all of the program requirements.

After the behavior or task statement, the second important component of a learning outcome is the performance standard. This specifies the standard to which the task is expected to be performed by the employee. Take the first task listed in my example above. Once the performance criterion is added, the learning outcome may appear as:

At the end of this training program, participants should be able to enter Bills of Material, purchasing and dispatch data into the inventory module at the rate of 30 entries per hour with no errors.

Once the performance standards are specified for all tasks, they can serve a number of important and interrelated purposes. In role descriptions, they clarify role expectations for prospective employees and incumbents. In performance appraisal documents, they communicate the criteria for employees’ performance evaluations. In training materials, they set learning expectations for program participants. The performance standard links all of these interconnected employee management functions in a consistent and comprehensive manner.

In a future blog post, I will continue this theme on the importance of clarifying roles and responsibilities for the success of training programs. Stay tuned for the next case study in this series.

Writing Learning Outcomes e-book

If you need to develop training programs with more impact, then check out Leslie Allan’s step-by-step guide on writing learning objectives. Writing Learning Outcomes helps you focus on real organizational objectives and the needed post-training participant behaviors in your training design. As you complete each step in the guide, you will write the results for your particular training project in the workbook provided. When you have finished working through the workbook, you will have a complete set of documented learning objectives for your project that are guaranteed to deliver results. Find out more about Writing Learning Outcomes and download the free introductory chapter today.

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