We welcome you to the June edition of our monthly newsletter. Many of us had hoped that the international financial markets would begin to stabilize over the past few months. Each successive gain seems to be met with an accompanying loss. The continuing political instability in Spain and Greece over the EU bailout plan has only recently added more petrol to the flames. Economies the world over will continue to evolve as each meets the current and future challenges.
This month we bring you two critically important articles for developing skills in this new economy. With the demise of manufacturing in many countries and the rise of the new service economy, how can we best help employees adapt to the new way of working?
Our first article provides essential pointers for trainers in adapting to this radical shift in the nature of work. The second piece shares insights on where managers and trainers need to focus their attention if your organization is to benefit truly from its expenditure on training and retraining employees.
Did you know that our expert team specialise in a range of consulting, coaching and training areas? Meet this month's expert, Maree Harris, below and find out what she is up to.
Stay Up to Date
Keep up with all of the latest news and commentary by regularly visiting our topical Business Performance blog. This month, we welcome our three new guest bloggers, JoAnn Corley, Chris Bennett and Adele Sommers. Check out our recent blog posts and let us know your thoughts in the Comments section. And don't forget to click the Like button and be the first to share with your friends and colleagues.
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Working in the New Age Economy
– Essential Skills for Knowledge Workers
by Dr. Brendan Moloney
It is no secret that in the past two decades most Western economies have moved largely from manufacturing/agricultural economics to predominantly services-based economies. We are rapidly seeing, however, the emergence of the 'New Age' industry.
The 'New Age' industry is not the esoteric – it is an industry incorporating 'experience' and information based services including the creative industries, web-based commerce, health services, and new models of education and training.
In progressive states, 'New Age' industries are the fastest growing parts of the economy – organic farms and produce, life coaching, web development, specialist health services, and elearning (to name a few).
In mapping this new territory, we are likely to see many new worker roles emerge in the coming decade. For those of us who are trainers, working with 'New Age' companies requires different skills than in other industries such as manufacturing, retail, or financial services.
Tips and Techniques for Trainers in the 'New Age' Industry
"So what training competencies do we need to work in the 'New Age' industries?"
1. Information Management
Trainers should understand information management problems and solutions.
A core characteristic New Age organization is that of being information-intensive. For instance, institutions like Government 2.0, web-based companies and health providers have lots of their resources tied up in information.
Working in information-intensive industries, managers face three major challenges including keeping up to date with the production rate and speed of information, 'staff-generated content' on social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and sorting and filing. While this is a core activity, many managers are increasingly swamped by data.
As such, L&D trainers can help managers in many ways. For instance, trainers can help managers train staff in information management, research skills (i.e., how to sift through information and where to access information), and quality assessment of information. Some L&D consultants will help L&D professionals move away from information, 'humanizing' their staff through values-training, relaxation, creativity workshops, and team-building workshops.
- Study information management, productivity and good information management practices.
- Consider incorporating tips on productivity, information management and time management in training industries.
- Emphasize the importance of good quality communication and train staff in techniques to eliminate ineffective and inefficient communication.
- Plan better-quality training materials and use less information (where appropriate). Think about the type and volume of information given to trainees. While the intention to provide trainees with volumes of information sounds good, in reality it can simply leave all feeling swamped.
Read the rest of the tips and techniques for trainers.
If you or your managers are struggling with bringing about change in your organization, then check out our Managing Change in the Workplace. This acclaimed resource will guide you through every step of the change process with a wealth of worksheets, checklists and tools. Supplementing our hands on approach is our unique change process model that makes sense out of the seeming chaos. Download the free introductory chapter and start using Managing Change in the Workplace today!
Tips on Making Training Stick
by Adele Sommers, Ph. D.
Training is a powerful improvement technique that offers tremendous benefits when judiciously used. The downside is that it's both an expensive and ephemeral way to close a "performance gap" in an organization. It's expensive because it takes people away from their regular work and typically involves development, logistics and support costs. It's ephemeral because of its fragile and short life span within people's brains, which is why learners need considerable follow-up support to make use of training.
Training typically consists of the "how-to" information people need to effectively perform their jobs, presuming their natural talents are a good fit for their responsibilities. You would use training only when indicated to bridge a true knowledge gap. In fact, there are many situations in which training might not be appropriate, such as when people already have sufficient job knowledge but are being impeded by other circumstances.
This article discusses management's role in supporting the many factors that influence how well people can transfer to their jobs any training they receive.
Transferring Training to the Job Requires More than Luck
The term "transfer of training" refers to the ability of learners to apply their new knowledge and skills to real-world situations, particularly in the workplace.
If trainees cannot apply what they've learned to their jobs, their training time and investment will have been wasted!
Training transfer "success factors" include, but are not limited to:
- A compelling, mission-based training purpose
- Learners' attitudes toward the training process
- The design and relevance of instructional materials
- The presence or absence of obstacles to productivity
- Working conditions that support and encourage the desired outcomes
- Budget and schedule allocations that enable learners to practice skills
- The availability of necessary tools, resources, equipment and job aids
- The level of management support for the immediate use of the training
- The amount of post-training motivation, practice, and guidance provided
Below are four critical steps managers can take to ensure that training transfer occurs!
Step 1: Determine Organizational Needs that Require Training
Training programs are most effective when they directly address either organizational problems or opportunities.
Whenever it's clear that training can support a compelling organizational need, learners will take it more seriously, and it will be far easier to justify and calculate a return on investment.
So, start by identifying the critical business issues related to any proposed training in terms of:
- Problems: For example, a high rate of customer complaints, dwindling sales, the risk of losing certification or poor product quality.
- Opportunities: For example, expanding into new markets, improvements to products or processes to increase profitability, anticipated regulatory changes or achieving industry certifications.
Next, answer the following questions regarding those identified problems or opportunities:
- What outcomes should this training produce? Sample outcomes include increased product sales, decreased customer complaints, better designs of process experiments, more accurate defect analysis summaries and supervisors regularly coaching their staff.
- To which projects, products, and processes would the training pertain? Example: The assembly process for Part 456 on the satellite project.
- What risks would be incurred if the needed outcomes were delayed? For example, could there be an imminent loss involving a safety hazard, product failure or customer departure? Or would a product rollout be delayed, a certification requirement missed or an essential market repositioning stalled?
- What alternatives to training exist, if any? Could you possibly satisfy the need for improvement using other approaches, instead of, or in addition to, training? You might discover through this analysis that "how-to" training is not the answer, or is only part of the answer, to desired improvement. For example, employees might need more practice; clearer expectations; or better access to, or more knowledge of, the standards that would tell them exactly how well to perform the work in each case. This is critical in industries in which several levels of regulations govern quality requirements for various processes.
- The remainder of the answer may reside in organizational "tune-ups" — which entail systematically identifying and removing obstacles to success. If people already know how to do their jobs, and yet still aren't producing as desired, then look for roadblocks that are impeding their progress. These issues could account for about 85% of poor organizational performance! See additional information on this topic in Step 4.
Read all four steps and tips for transferring learning to the job.
Our Training Evaluation Toolkit is a complete practical guide and toolkit for measuring and reporting the impact of your workplace training programs. With it, you will be able to demonstrate the impact of training on productivity, efficiency, quality, customer satisfaction, and so on, and convert benefits to financial values. The toolkit is packaged with a full set of reusable and customizable forms and calculation worksheets that you will use from the start to the finish of your training evaluation project. Find out more about our Training Evaluation Toolkit and download the free introductory chapter today.
Meet Our Expert of the Month - Maree Harris
Have you met our team of expert consultants, coaches and trainers? This month we proudly feature Maree Harris. Maree is a professional development facilitator who specialises in developing and enhancing the soft skills and personal leadership of professionals seeking to take their careers to the next level.
Maree explains her approach, "Many of my clients are professionals who, despite their comprehensive university education and post graduate qualifications, are being passed over for promotions and opportunities by people who do not have the qualifications, technical expertise or experience they have. They are completely bewildered and disillusioned by this. They are not aware that it is often their lack of these soft skills and personal leadership skills, which aren't taught at university, that has seen them lose the promotion or not be offered the opportunity." Maree has just completed a pilot group coaching program to help professionals develop these very important skills. She is about to make it available to individuals and organisations. Contact us today find out more about the program or how Maree Harris can help you.
Visit our web site at www.businessperform.com for lots of expert guidance and practical tools designed to help you get ahead of your competition. Also, be sure to pass this newsletter on to friends and colleagues who want to stay up with what's on. From all of us here on the Business Performance team, we wish you a productive month and look forward to communicating with you again soon.
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