Training and development is a crucial element to the success of any business entity, whether in-house or outsourced.
Surprisingly though, it is usually the first casualty to experience cutbacks when the economy hits hard on an organisation’s operations.
It has become increasingly challenging for most business executives to balance the responsibility for developing the most valuable resource — human resource —with reducing budgets and focusing on the bottom line.
Maybe if we start by analysing the definition of training and development, we will get an insight into the importance and value that should be attached to this important human resources domain.
Simply defined training and development is the process of equipping employees with new skills, knowledge, attitudes or experience which they are then able to apply to their workplace and careers.
This definition can be broken down into three broad categories which are: what employees need to do their job as it is today, what employees need to do on their job as it will affect tomorrow and what people need to do their job in the future.
It is evident then as can be seen from the definition above that training and development has the potential to equip employees to do their job; to stay abreast of any changes that may occur in their jobs and to also help them in their career progression.
So it is clear that training and development has both immediate benefits to the organisation and definite future benefits to the individual employee (their career).
Thus, the individual employee benefits from being well-trained in their daily role and the organisation benefits from developing its own future executives from within.
This now takes us back to the issue of responsibility. We have seen that the benefits of training and development are shared between the organisation and the employee so it is logical to also share the responsibility.
The traditional approach to training and development places the line manager at the centre of the training and development circle.
He/she decides for the employee in terms of the areas that need improvement and prescribes the appropriate off-the-shelf course to be attended by the employee. In this scenario, the employee does not have an input in terms of his/her deficiencies and the possible remedies.
This approach has been labelled the “Doctor Model” where the line manager acts as authority, diagnostician and decision-maker.
Some have argued that this process is efficient and it saves time, but its element of lack of involvement of the individual employee has been seen to be leading to lack of engagement with the training and therefore a lack of benefit.
The current approach to training and development embraces the element of inclusivity, in which both the line manager and the individual employee discuss the training and development needs and come up with a training and development plan tailor-made to suit the affected employee.
This approach is widely viewed as the “Coach Model”.
In this case, the line manager (coach) guides the individual through the process of identifying and meeting their training and development needs with the aim of coming up with solutions that suit both the organisation and the affected employee.
Adopting this model will ensure employees feel that they are being recognised and empowered to take care of their training and development plans which in itself fosters loyalty to the organisation.
Rather than impose training and development plans on employees, organisations should realise that training and development is a shared responsibility between the line manager and the employee.
Paul Nyausaru is a training and development practitioner. Views contained in this article are personal.
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