Making an Effective Workforce

Training and development represent a planned effort by an organization to facilitate learning of job related skills and behaviors by the employee. Organizations spend substantial amount each year on training. Training may occur in a variety of forms.  The most common method is on-the-job training. In on-the-job training (OJT) an experienced employee is asked to take a new employee under his or her wing and show the newcomer how to perform the job duties. OJT has many advantages for training facilities, materials and easy transfer of learning back to the job. When implemented well, OJT is considered the fastest and most effective means of facilitating learning in the workplace. One type of on-the-job training involves moving people to various types of jobs within the organization, where they work with experienced employees to learn different tasks. This cross training may place an employee in a new position for as short a time as a few hours or for as long as a year, enabling the employee to develop new skills and giving the organization greater flexibility.

A recent popular  approach to training and development is the corporate university. A corporate university is an in-house training and education facility that offers broad based learning  opportunities for employees and frequently for customer suppliers,  and strategic partners as well throughout their careers. Many companies cut budgets for training but smart managers  keep pumping money into their corporate universities to keep building human capital. Perhaps the most well-known example of a corporate university is Hamburger University, McDonald’s worldwide training centre, which has been in existence for more than 40 years. Although corporate  universities have extended their reach with new technology that enables distance learning via Videoconferencing and online education, it must emphasize on the importance of classroom interactions.

Another way to further employee development is through promotion from within, which can help companies retain valuable employees. This provides challenging assignments, prescribes new responsibilities, and helps employees grow by expanding and developing  their abilities. These techniques combined with a commitment to job flexibility have helped the hotel retain high quality workers at a time when other in the tourism and hospitality industry were suffering from a shortage of skilled labour.

Assessing Performance:

To obtain an accurate performance rating, managers acknowledge that jobs are multidimensional and performance thus may be multidimensional as well. For example, a sports broadcaster may perform well in terms of on the job knowledge i.e. she or he may be able to report facts and  figures about the players and describe which rule can be applied, when there is a questionable play on the field. But the same sports broadcaster may not perform  as well on another dimension such as communication. She or he may be unable to express the information in a colourful  way that interests the audience or may interrupt the other broadcaster.

If performance is to be rated accurately the performance appraisal system should require the rater to assess each relevant performance dimension. A multidimensional form increases the usefulness of the performance appraisal and facilitates employees’ growth and development.

A recent  trend in performance appraisal is called 360 degree feedback, a process that uses multiple raters, including  self-rating as a way to increase awareness of strengths and weaknesses and guide employee development. Members of the appraisal group may include supervisors, co-workers and customers as well as  the individual thus providing appraisals for the employee from a variety of perspectives.

Other alternative  performance evaluation methods have also been gaining ground. One controversial method of evaluating managers, which is nevertheless growing in popularity is the performance review ranking system. As most commonly used, a manager  evaluates his or her direct reports relative to one another and categorizes each on a scale such as

A = outstanding performance

B= high middle  performance

C= in need of improvement

Most companies routinely fire those managers falling in the bottom 10 per cent of the ranking. Proponents say that this technique provides an effective way to assess performance and offer guidance for employee development. But critics of these systems, sometimes called rank and yank, argue that they are based on subjective judgments, produce skewed results, and discriminate  against employees who are different from the mainstream. Nevertheless, appropriate use of performance ranking has been useful for many companies. A variation of the system is helping.

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