As Managers /Administrators - Training and Development

As manager /administrator of the training function, the T&D manager must perform typical managerial duties. This means planning, organizing, directing, and controlling the ongoing function. Thus T&D managers set policy for developing the human resources of the organization. They then see that the policy is carried out through systems and programs, possibly through a T&D staff,and assuredly with the active involvement of line management—and presumably with the support and commitment of upper management.

What Are the Policy Decisions the T&D Manager Must Make?

First,someone must decide what the training needs are and what training initiatives will be provided. Of course, these training needs must support the organization's mission and goals. That means there must be a definition of what training is, and a set of criteria on which validated training needs will be prioritized.
Often,when the training needs are greater than the available resources, a decision must be made about where the resources will actually be expended.

This decision is simplified and expedited when there is a policy statement about which criteria have priority—the dollar impact, the costs of providing the training, ROI (return on investment), the number of people to be trained, pressure from competition, the political clout of the requester, or government mandate?A policy clarifying such priorities needs organizational sanction, but usually originates with the T&D manager.

It may be painful to refuse requests for help, but that is less likely to happen if the T&D manager is a good planner who sees performance-related problems before they arise; when one must say no, it is less painful if a clear-cut policy is available to explain why.

Naturally then, this T&D manager must have ready access to organizational goals,problems, and strategies. To know what new products, programs, technologies, or approaches the organization is contemplating is to be a proactive rather than a belated solver of human performance problems. To be proactive is to prevent human performance problems rather than be a mere "firefighter" who handles problems after they have already become full-blown crises.

At other times the T&D manager will become aware of performance problems that remain unseen by an operating management because it is somehow "blinded"to the failure of its own staff to meet desired performance standards.

Does the T&D manager take the initiative in revealing such problems? Or does the organization have to wait until the potential client grows painfully aware of the situation? Someone must make a policy statement to answer that question— and that "someone" is the T&D manager.

Someone must also set scheduling policy: setting the dates and locations for programs,determining the length of the training day, deciding whether enrollments should involve trainees from many departments and locations or from homogeneous groups. Someone must ask, "In what programs does the synergism of exchanging departmental technology and values exceed the faster mastery and potential team building possible when the rosters include learners from the same discipline or location?" Scheduling raises this question:"Should the shop be shut down for every participant to achieve the expected learning outcomes?" The answers to such questions are sometime shard to find and even harder to "sell." Someone must find them and someone must sell them— and that someone is the T&D manager.

How will participants be selected for training? On what priority? How is their immediate manager or supervisor expected to brief them on the reasons they are being trained? How will that manager/supervisor review the learning objectives with them before the training? Who will tell them the quality and quantity standards they are expected to achieve when they return to work after the training? The content of these vital messages, the mechanisms for sending them and the policies governing them must be established and communicated by someone. That someone is the T&D manager.

The word "communicated" is critically important. T&D managers are not only responsible for setting policy but also for communicating that policy to all other parts of the management structure. How can the T&D department expect compliance if clients do not know the criteria for determining training needs,for enrollments, or for achievements? How can the line managers make effective use of their investment in training processes if they are not given guidelines?

A Written statement of training policy is a vitally important document for several reasons:

  • First, it serves as a day-to-day reference in making those innumerable "sub decisions"that arise for managers in both the T&D and client departments.
  • Next, it provides a useful checkpoint for renewing and redirecting the training activity from time to time.
  • It can be a useful planning document.
  • It becomes a valid checklist when the T&D manager evaluates the contribution sand performance of his or her department.
  • Above all, a written statement of T&D policy helps all members of the T&D department function in ticklish moments! Perhaps the issue of"Why?" or "Why not?" or "What shall we do?" hangs heavy over a discussion with a line client. The written policy can explain,clarify, and solidify organizational values. Even if it doesn't provide the precise detailed answers needed at the moment, it can give guidance and suggest actions.

A Word about "ticklish moments": They can be very valuable"teachable moments." We need to learn from mistakes and from crises.The ticklish moments requiring a formal policy statement for guidance are cuesto ask our Function and Role of T&D Managers m 25selveswhy the crisis occurred and whether it was a useful crisis. This is also a time to ask whether we need an amended or expanded policy statement. If the same"tickle" comes up again and again, it is a catalyst to improved statements— and improved policy—in the future!

If there's a definite policy, why are there ticklish moments? Possibly because the T&D manager involved too few line clients when first creating the policy.

This raises another policy issue decided by the T&D manager: Which clients? How often should they be consulted when policy is being reformulated? As administrators, T&D managers not only set policy but also manage an ongoing function. This happens whether they have a staff or whether they are the entire department in just one person. But if we define management as "getting work done through other people," then T&D managers are just like all other managers. They must plan, delegate, motivate, mentor, coach, monitor, control,and evaluate. Their T&D department is, after all, simply one of the suborganizations within the larger organization it serves.

This means that T&D managers establish budgets and monitor costs. In doing this,they may control decisions about learning methods and media. For example, it may be necessary to use a printed book as the medium for programmed instruction because budgets won't permit the expense or development time for computer-based training (CBT).

T&D budgets must provide facilities where learning can take place and where it can be designed, as well as places to meet with clients to discuss performance problems,possible programs, learning objectives, evaluation criteria, and procedures for adopting any activity resulting from the consultation. To plan these places properly, T&D managers must know something about methods and media. Managing the ongoing function in most organizations implies that T&D managers select and manage some staff, but also have course designers, instructors,consultants, media specialists, and clerical support. To give that staff a sense of belonging, security, and recognition, T&D managers must provide environments that accommodate activities ranging from confrontation to quiet meditation.

To build staff, T&D managers need skill in selecting personnel. They want a balance of temperament, experience, and special expertise. If T&D managers preach the gospel of the ever-developing employee to clients (and they'd better preach it!), it's vital that they practice this gospel on their own staff. It's imperative to give periodic upgrading so that all T&D specialists can acquire new skill and expertise. Growth should be the norm of the T&Department! This means that time and dollars must be budgeted so that staff can attend conferences, workshops, seminars, and developmental activities within the department.

And then there's evaluation. Someone must see that evaluation mechanisms are built into all phases of the change program. This means that there must be measurement before the evaluation. This means that programs will be tested and revised before final implementation. It means that completed programs will be evaluated. But on what criteria? Will they be evaluated on cost effectiveness?

On perceptions? On the achievement of learning goals? On changes in employees ' on-the-job performance? On changes in operating indices? Some of the above? All of the above? Someone must decide—and make a statement on the decision.

Administratively, the T&D manager must do lots of planning and organizing, must translate the abstractions of policy into workable day-to-day decisions of control and implementation. Those decisions must improve people-performance at all levels, and in all departments.

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