Potential Sources of Individual Training Needs - Training and Development

How does a conscientious T&D manager discover actual symptoms of these individual and organizational training needs?
Let's look first at the individual needs. What better place to start than by keeping an eye on the existing employee systems? The actions taken to maintain employee systems lead to the discovery of many training needs:

  • New hires. Their individual need is the peculiar information required before they can feel comfortably and acceptably "at speed" in the new position.This information might include such organizational cultural factors as starting times, lunch and break schedules, the location of the necessary rooms, whom to turn to for help. If pre hiring interviews or certification testing reveal deficiencies bad enough to correct (but not serious enough to deny employment),those are also individual training needs.(Just note about training needs for hires: Not all their needs should be met immediately.They should be trained only for tasks they will perform soon; they will be overwhelmed by—and forget—training in tasks they won't perform until later in their tours of duty.)
  • Promotions. When one person moves into a position of greater responsibility, we may presume that there will be a gap between that person's inventory and the knowledge and skill required to perform properly in the new position.
  • Transfers. Even if no promotion is involved, switching to new responsibilities is a signal that there may be a temporary mismatch between what the employee can already do and what must be done to perform satisfactorily in the new placement.
  • Performance Appraisals. This system exists in many organizations for both management and non management positions. The "suggestions for improvement" are invariably triggers for individual education and development—and thus symptoms of training needs. Let's suppose a manager or supervisor tells a subordinate to acquire a new skill, or to master the conceptual framework for some phase of the present job that isn't being done as well as it might be; the T&D manager now has data that a perceived individual training need exists. Helping the appraised and the appraiser develop a plan for acquiring new or perfected skills is an important part of the human resource development activity. It matters not at all whether the growth recommended is meant to improve performance on the present position, education to prepare for the next assignment, or development to help the organization grow to fit new environments. Any suggestion calls four some response— an offer to help—from the T&D department.
  • Career planning programs. Since these tell where employees want to go, they also can reveal lacks (deficiencies) in the current inventories of those people.
  • An accident. An accident may signal that an employee is unaware of certain safety regulations. If the accident report indicates that the probable cause is ignorance, the T&D department has a trigger to see that the DK is quickly overcome.
  • Quality control records. If the record shows the profile of individual workers(and it should if it's a dynamic management instrument!), then that profile reveals consistent errors. If the worker is making the same mistake again and again, it's time to find out why. Does the worker know better? If not, training is needed.
  • Grievances. When a grievance is filed against a foreman, a supervisor, or a manager, alert T&D specialists ask whether these people know what they are entitled to do and what they are constrained against doing under policy or contract statements. When they act out of ignorance, a DK has been uncovered and some individual training is indicated.
  • New positions. These are created occasionally as the way to handle incomplete or lagging workloads—and as a way to introduce new technology into the organization. When this occurs, the people who fill the new positions will almost assuredly have a need to acquire new knowledge and skill. If the position is filled with people from outside the organization, the newcomer swill have a DK about the policies and procedures of their new employers.
  • Special assignments. These are vehicles for educating and developing incumbent employees. People so assigned will inevitably have some DKs about the terms of their assignment as well as about the technology required in the special tasks.
  • Job descriptions. Individual training needs are especially important if the job descriptions are under attack for being useless.
  • Research and development projects.
  • Tuition refund programs.
  • Job rotation programs.
  • Cross-qualification decisions. All these are possible sources of individual training needs. When people assume duties under any of these programs, they inherit some lack of knowledge about the terms of the activity. T&D managers who manage the entire T&D function establish communication mechanisms to keep themselves informed about routine activities in all such programs. They can therefore respond effectively with good counsel about how to overcome the DKsthat are inevitably created in such programs. Usually they become actively involved in designing the learning experiences.

That represents a wide range of potential training needs for the individual employee. Isn't it nice that most of them result because a person or an organization has grown and will enjoy still more developmental training?

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