Experiential and Interactive Computer Programs for the Development of Management Skills
Experiential learning that lies on the basis of multiple programs dedicated to the development of management skills may be defined as an engaged process that presupposes learners’ reflecting on their experience. In other words, it describes the learning process “that results from gathering and processing information through direct engagement with the world” (Kayes & Kayes, 2021, p. 1). While behavioral approaches describe learning as a process influenced by external factors, including rewards and punishments, that form behavioral changes, experiential learning places an individual at the learning process’s center. In relation to management education, the most influential experiential learning-related approach is the experiential learning theory (ELT) created by David Kolb (Kayes & Kayes, 2021). Along with the learning cycle, it describes the process of learning as four phases: direct experience, reflection on it, abstract thinking, and subsequent experimentation.
One of the major advantages of experiential programs is their ability to create real-world experiences by applying existing data and concepts to hands-on activities in order to receive relevant results. In addition, they accelerate learning, provide more opportunities for creativity in relation to problem-solving, teach to combine theories with practice and learn from analyzing mistakes, enhance productivity, and promote personal development along with communication and teambuilding skills. At the same time, experiential knowledge may require more time as this process presupposes more time, guidance, motivation, and learners’ particular competence. In addition, the assessment of results may be complicated by the subjectivity of experience and reflection on it.
As almost all areas, including education and business, are currently affected by technological progress, interactive computer programs are applied for the development of management skills as well. Based on computer-assisted learning, they use devices and other digital technologies and either do not require human intervention or offer active interaction between learners without a necessity to be presented in the same location. It goes without saying that the main advantages of interactive computer programs are their comfort and the existence of multiple forms of learning besides traditional instructions.
In addition, these programs allow making education personalized in relation to time, place, and level of proficiency and fill learners’ gaps in the case of learning differences. Moreover, similar to experiential learning, interactive programs also contribute to developing communication skills and creativity. However, interactive computer programs may not provide appropriate results, especially when they become a considerable distraction. At the same time, they require time for all learners adaptation to their functions.
From a personal perspective, an experiential program should be chosen for the development of employees’ management skills. In management education, experiential learning “addresses a number of concerns with traditional education and emphasizes the role of the learner in the learning process” (Kayes & Kayes, 2021, p. 1). In general, people learn better when they do something and subsequently analyze the results of their activities (Expert Panel, 2021).
Incorporating reflection, discussion, and summarizing, experiential learning will help workers to determine what skills require improvement. At the same time, it underlines the importance of an individual in the learning process. Thus, taking into consideration personal learning differences and a program’s regulation, an employee will be able to optimize the learning of essential management skills, learn from his mistakes, and apply received experience to the practice. Finally, an experiential program provides a particular algorithm that workers may use in order to obtain new skills and improve already acquired ones.
In a modern globalized world, the issue of diversity in the workplace has become more and more essential. Defined in 1995 by Esty, Griffith, and Hirsch, diversity is “acknowledging, understanding, accepting, and valuing people’s differences with regards to race, age, class, gender, ethnicity, disability, education, sexual orientation, spiritual practice, and more” (AXIOS HR, 2020, para. 10). Within a company’s setting, diversity provides multiple advantages for stable growth and development. Thus, diverse working teams contribute to a better understanding of diverse customers’ needs generating public goodwill and improving corporate image. As diversity presupposes the absence of discrimination and focuses on employees’ professional skills, their performance, productivity, decision-making, creativity, and morale are improving. As a result, diversity leads to retention, turnover-related cost reductions, and talented specialists.
That is why diversity-related training programs that aim to develop skills required for interaction with people from various backgrounds are necessary. They help boost employees’ awareness about diversity in general, appreciate co-workers’ differences, and enhance communication skills for the creation of a healthy work environment. At the same time, at a company’s level, diversity-related training increases different identity groups’ inclusion, prevents the violation of people’s civil rights, and promotes better teamwork. In order to achieve these goals, a diversity-training program should include awareness-based and skill-based parts.
The first one should inform about diversity and work with employees’ prejudices and stereotypes for their elimination. The second part should be concentrated on the development of communication skills for interaction with diverse co-workers and customers. The identities, ideas, and personal achievements of workers should be respected regardless of their race, gender, age, and socioeconomic status. In addition, a successful program should include needs assessment, clear planning, goal definition, reviews, and reassessments.
New Employees’ Orientation
The orientation of new employees may be regarded as a highly essential process as the efficiency of their adaptation determines performance, productivity, and retention. In other words, the goals of the orientation are to make new employees feel comfortable and welcomed, ensure that their expectations meet reality, and successfully prepare them for their new positions. In general, human resources professionals, an employee’s direct manager or supervisor, and executives are traditionally involved in the process of adaptation. However, all co-workers may indirectly be involved in it as their support and help may keep a new employee informed and comfortable.
At the same time, many organizations have started implementing computer modules for online orientation to use along with personal instructions. In general, it is possible to provide the orientation fully online. However, it depends on several factors, including the company’s type and size and an employee’s duties. For instance, if his scope of responsibilities is not large or a company operates predominantly online, an employee will work online and without colleagues having several tasks to do, online orientation may be regarded as an optimal variant. However, online orientation should be omitted or combined with face-to-face instructions in large departments and for employees who take positions that presuppose multitasking. In addition, colleagues’ support that cannot be provided online also contributes to a person’s successful adaptation.
AXIOS HR. (2020). Why workforce diversity was a huge competitive advantage in 2020. AXIOS HR. Web.
Expert Panel. (2021). 12 ways for organizations to leverage experiential learning opportunities. Forbes. Web.
Kayes, D. C., & Kayes, A. B. (2021). Experiential learning and education in management. Oxford Research, 1-19. Web.