Archives for July 2010

Spreading the Learning: The Role of Workplace Climate and Co-workers

If it takes a village to raise a child, then perhaps it takes co-workers to help trainees shine.

Management development experts have long known that organizations get the most out of their training dollars when employees are supported before, during, and after training. Few organizations, however, actually follow this advice.

Models of training effectiveness focus on program design, trainee characteristics, and workplace environment as the key factors that determine transfer of learning. By contrast, Harry J. Martin (Cleveland State University) wanted to study the context in which employees apply and transfer the knowledge and skills learned, specifically the role of workplace climate and peer support.

(Workplace climate includes factors such as adequate resources, cues that remind trainees of what they have learned, opportunities to apply skills, barriers and constraints to transfer, and consequences for using training on the job.)

Martin focused on 237 managers of a manufacturing company in the midwest U.S. who completed a comprehensive training program. He devised a global measure of workplace climate for each of the 12 divisions in which the employees worked and used performance ratings of the participants to measure the level of training transfer.

Martin found that trainees in a division with a more favorable climate and those enjoying greater peer support showed greater improvement. Even better, in terms of transferring learnings, peer support overcame or lessened the effects of a negative office environment.

“The results of this study suggest that follow-up programs should be designed to address both the immediate and general organizational environments,” Martin reports in Human Resource Development Quarterly. “Care must be taken to help ensure that peers and immediate supervisors help trainees put the skills to work. Co-workers could provide general encouragement or be involved in more structured activities such as the peer meetings employed in this study.”

FACTOID: It is estimated that only 10 to 40 percent of learning transfers to the job.

Reference:

“Workplace Climate and Peer Support as Determinants of Training Transfer,” by Harry J. Martin; Human Resource Development Quarterly (Vol. 21 No. 1 Spring 2010; pp. 87-104)

Has Talent Management Weathered the Economic Storm?

Organizational development and change management more than ever before are being linked to learning and talent development, according to a report recently published by the UK-based CIPD.

“It is clear that organizational development and design will become increasingly important as organizations seek to change, innovate and to link learning to organizational goals,” according to CIPD’s 2010 Learning and Talent Development survey report. But the report also noted that “practitioners are less involved in discussing the design, delivery and impact of learning with other managers. This alignment issue is a key one as L&TD seeks to build its reputation and impact.”

The survey found that for 46 percent of respondents, the major organizational change affecting learning and talent development in the next five years will be a greater integration between coaching, organizational development, and performance management to drive change. For 37 percent, it will be greater responsibility devolved to line managers.

Other findings from the CIPD survey:

  • As a result of the economic downturn, learning and talent development is becoming more focused on value and impact; in other words, doing more with less. “It will be particularly important for professionals to ensure that their L&TD activities are even more closely aligned with business strategy and to be able to assess the return on investment generated.”
  • Almost 60 percent of organizations undertake talent management activities. Among these, half rate such activities as “effective” and only 3 percent consider them “very effective”. The three most effective activities to manage talent are coaching (39 percent), in-house development programmes (32 percent), and high-potential development schemes (31 percent).
  • The three most common ways to evaluate talent management activities are to obtain feedback from line managers (42 percent), to measure the retention of those identified as high-potential (35 percent), and the anecdotal observation of change (35 percent).
  • In terms of leadership skills, the main gaps identified by employers were performance management (setting standards for performance and dealing with underperformance) and leading and managing change.
  • Internships are growing in popularity, partly because employers want to provide a lifeline for talented young people. The results are encouraging. “The fact that a third of firms report higher productivity as a result of their internships is particularly encouraging, given that many interns are new to the workplace and are still in the process of learning new skills.”

About 86 percent of responding organizations (623) had headquarters in the UK and the remainder (101) were based outside the UK.

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