Learning and Development Practice at Rift Airlines

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Introduction

This paper will analyze a case study – “Training for Results at Rift Airlines.” The study was initiated to evaluate the training and development program at the Rift Airlines, designed by the human resource department for the workers. Linda the human resource manager, who was also in charge of the training, was unhappy with Mike’s training approach. Mike kept his audience laughing throughout the training session with funny jokes. Linda has issues with trainers who amuse their audience with funny jokes. She felt Mike would fail to achieve the program’s objectives by taking lightly his training responsibility.

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The writer will point out the weaknesses in the implementation and suggest an appropriate implementation procedure. It will be divided into two sections; the first section discuss the main training and development practices such as; the value of entertainment in training, identification of learning and development needs, selecting training activities and evaluation of a training process.

The second section formulates recommendations for Rift Airlines based on the analysis of the company’s training and development practices. Maximum employee performance is significant in attaining set objectives. To meet this, the management team needs to make sure the employees are well prepared for the tasks laid down for them. One of the most important ways of preparing employees is through training and development. Training and development practices must be tailored to the needs of the organization and conducted in a professional manner to ensure that set objectives are achieved.

Value of Entertainment in Training and Development

Organizations like Rift Airlines hire training and development consultants from outside the organization to cater for the training needs of its employees. Most of them often fail to include employees in the preparation of training programs; in this case, the management teams impose training sessions to employees. Employees are turned into perceive recipients and participate only as a condition from the management. Such training sessions are characterized by participants who are disinterested, worn out, and often give negative feedbacks about the training if asked. Richardson and Earle (2006, p.108) described such training sessions as not having a lasting impact on the recipients. Research indicates that most companies evaluate the effectiveness of a training and development program by the feedback given by the participants. As such, most trainers tend to use entertainment as a tool to grasp the attention of the participants during the training and also make them rate the training as interesting. These types of trainers would often treat their audience with pulses of rib breaking jokes throughout their presentations. The audience to these presenters will always rate the presentation as interesting even though it may not have achieved the training objectives.

Organizations therefore choose trainers with ability to electrify the audience and create an immediate relationship with them. Such trainers engage the minds of their audience by their presentations through jokes and humor and seize the opportunity to pass the desired training points to the audience. Kirkpatrick (2007, p.17) cautions that the entertainment bit should only be used as “a presentation trick” and should not overshadow the desired training and development objectives.

Identification of Learning and Development Needs

This is one of the most significant training and development practice; it involves carrying out a survey to find the gaps both in the organization and the skills of employees on meeting the work requirements. The process helps the management to identify the gaps that the training and development program has to fill. It also helps in categorizing employees in different training groups according to their needs similarity. Information regarding the needs of the employees to carry out the job and the needs of the organization helps in developing the right goals for the training. It also provides an important guideline in capturing emerging issues such as technological changes, climate, and global financial crises. The performance of workers in many organizations continues to plummet as a result of lack of skills to tackle emerging issues in their work environment.

The dynamic nature of technology requires constant refresher courses to be in tandem with new changes. Matters of global climatic changes are of great concern everywhere, most governments are calling on companies to align their operation processes to what is now popularly called “environmentally friendly procedures” (Garavan etal., 1995). This in essence implies instituting some changes that would need training of employees to adapt to the new changes. Global financial crisis is a cause of worry among many people as a result of poor economic performance. In this scenario, employees need to be trained on life skills and motivated to perform to the set expectations.

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Garavan etal. (1995, p. 557) notes that the training and development needs of employees can be developed from “performance appraisals through which the strength and weakness” of each employee should be identified. Employees should also be encouraged to suggest areas that they feel they need to be empowered through training and development. In this process also called “self report” the human resource department collects reports from employees about the training and development needs and use them to develop the training program Saiyadain (2009, p. 276)

The process of identifying training needs from employees of a particular organization is equitable to a research process. The main methods of data collection such as use of questionnaires, interviews, group discussions, observation are used in identification of training needs. Garavan etal. (1995, p. 559) adds that information collected from counseling sessions offered to particular employees in an organization can also be used in identifying training needs for employees.

Calder and McCollum (1998, p.110) suggests that a training and development program must reflect the needs of the organization. Every organization has its different needs depending on the environment it operates, the product lines as well as its goals. A training and development program should be tailored to reflect the unique needs of the organization.

Selecting Training Activities

A training and development program should consist of activities that are geared towards the attainment of the goals or objectives of the training program. Objectives in this case must address the training needs identified in the organization. Training activities should be as much as possible interesting to the participants and at the same time address, the training needs of the organization. Besides organizational goals, training activities should also reinforce skills of employees relevant to the occupation.

Training activities in most organizations as pointed out by Covell etal. (2007, p.331) are often based on the three factors; “customer care skills, communication skills and team work” and use of new technologies for when the organization is upgrading to a new technology. These aspects are relevant to all employees for purposes of mutual interaction with colleagues and customers. Most trainers often chose training activities based on the schemes that have been tested in other organizations elsewhere.

The most common training activities outlined by Burke etal. (1990, p.99) include; “reflection on the theory of the study idea, demonstrations, and providing opportunity for feedbacks from participants.”

Communication skills are very vital to employees, it is important that the activities selected for training also focus on developing their communication skills. Communication skills activities cover all forms of communication such as; verbal communication skills, telephone communication skills, official letters and internet communication skills. Werner and DeSimone (2008) suggest that trainers should also focus on activities that meet the standard requirements provided by world standardization bodies such as ISO.

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Team work is an important attribute because every employer has expectorations from each of their employees. Jackson etal (2009, p. 298) notes that retreats give the best opportunity for team building among members of the organization. A retreat gives colleagues an opportunity to reflect on their personal relationships besides the job demands. The negative aspect with retreats is the cost incurred in organizing them. Most organizations shy of from such events because of cost. Sports equally provide an opportunity for members to develop cohesion between one another. Costs of organizing sports are often not very prohibitive except that it may not be of interest to all employees.

Evaluation of a Training and Development Program

Evaluation and validation are two important processes in designing training and development program. In evaluation, the program designers seek to find out the value that the training adds to the organization. On the other hand, validation seeks to find out the appropriateness of the training methods to achieve the set objectives. Kirkpatrick developed a useful evaluation model in which in which the process is divided into four levels arranged in a pyramid form as illustrated below:

Kirkpatrick’s four level model .
Figure 1. Kirkpatrick’s four level model .

Results

The first level at the top of the pyramid gauges the reaction of the members. The second stage evaluates the form of learning acquired by the members. The third stage looks at behavior changes as a result of the training. The fourth and final level of evaluation examines the results of the whole program. This model can be very useful to the human resource department at the Rift Airlines in evaluating the impact of the program. Landy and Conte (2010, p. 342) notes that evaluation provides the trainers a picture of the impact that the training creates on the participants. In this regard, failure to meet the objectives of the training may call for a further training session to meet the set objectives.

Considering the rift airline case Linda Church is dissatisfied with the training approach that Mike uses. Throughout the training session Mike treats the participants with rib-breaking laughter which Linda feels make them deviate from the main goal of the training (Stone, 2008, p. 385). Indeed companies and organizations invest fortunes in training and development programs and it is only fair that the trainers focus on strategies that enable them attain the required goals. Landy and Conte (2010, p. 344) indicates that the use of “posttest and pretest strategy to assess the performance of participants in a particular job task prior and after the training” yields accurate evaluation results.

Most organizations base achievement of training objectives merely on the basis of commends by the participants give about the training. Results from such an evaluation are difficult to quantify as they are highly likely to be biased. The feedback of participants that asks them to rate the training on the basis of “good, fair, bad …..” hardly reflects the truth about the training.

Recommendations

Training and development are significant programs which if well conducted can help an organization improve the skills of its employees. The Rift Airlines has started the training and development program to empower its employees with skills to their roles in the company. It is important that the program is conducted in a professional manner so as to achieve the desired goals. The first proper way would be to hire a professional with proved skills in training and development. There are several organizations professionally registered to offer training and development services.

The advantage of using professional consultants for training and development is that they are well experience in the sector and their services are reliable. Employees tend to regard an outsider more seriously than one of their own. They will be more expectant for different information from a stranger than from someone they interact with on a daily basis. Goss (1994, p.63) points out that professional training and development consultancy firms charge prohibitive fees for training services; this discourages many small firms from asking for their services.

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It is important to note however that there is value for money for the training offered by professional firms. Professional training firms use their experience to achieve the required training objectives that directly address the needs of the organization and employees.

Mike seems to be well endowed with humor to, and able to treat his audience to a rib breaking laughter during his presentations. This is a very significant strategy if he uses it as a presentation skill and avoids deviation from the goal of the training. Linda is not happy with the jokes that mike cracks during the presentation and feels they make the participants lose the seriousness attached to the training (Stone, 2008, p. 385).

The Human resources department at the Rift Airlines needs to design appropriate evaluation tools to measure attainment of the goals of the training program. The Kirkpatrick evaluation model which evaluates the “results, behavior, reaction and learning” can serve as a comprehensive evaluation tool for the training program (Kirkpatrick, 2007, p.17). The level of achievement before and after the training can be used to determine the effectiveness of the training program (Goss, 1994, p.62).

Conclusion

Training and development program plays an important role of empowering employees in job skills. Organizations that envision maximum delivery from employees must also be ready to invest training and development. It is important to identify the training needs of both the employees and the organization before setting out to conduct a training program. It is also important to design an appropriate evaluation tool to accurately determine the effectiveness of a training program. The evaluation tool should always be based on measurable objectives.

A lot of effort and skill is required right from the design to the implementation of the training program. There is need to develop a proper tool for testing the effectiveness and impact of the program both to the trainees and the business organization. Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model provides an appropriate template for evaluation, which Linda in this case can use to determine the effectiveness of Mike’s training.

Reference List

  1. Burke, P. etal. 1990. Programming for Staff Development: Fanning the Flame. Bristol: The Falmer Press.
  2. Calder, J. and McCollum, A. 1998. Open and Flexible Learning in Vocational Education and Training. London: Kogan Page Ltd.
  3. Covell, D. etal. 2007. Managing Sports Organizations: Responsibility For Performance. Burlington: Butterworth –Heinemann.
  4. Garavan N., T. etal. 1995. Training and development in Ireland: context, policy, and practice. Dublin: Oak Tree Press.
  5. Goss, D. 1994. Principles of human resource management. New York: Routledge.
  6. Jackson, E., S. etal. 2009. Managing Human Resources. Mason: South-Western Cengage Learning.
  7. Kirkpatrick, L. D., 2007. Implementing the Four Levels: A Practical Guide for Effective Evaluation of Training Program. California: Barrett Koehler Publishers, Inc.,
  8. Landy, J. F. and Conte, M. J., 2010. Work in the 21st Century: An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology. New York: McGraw Hill Company Inc.,
  9. Richardson, C. and Earle, K., 2006. Relationship based leadership. Boulevard: University Press of America.
  10. Saiyadain, S. M., 2009. Human Resources Management. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill Ltd.
  11. Stone, R., J., 2008. Human Resource Management, 20th Anniversary Edition 6th Ed. Milton: John Wiley.
  12. Werner, M. J. DeSimone, L. R., 2008. Human Resource Development. New Jersey: Cengage Learning

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