Improving business performance is a journey, not a destination. Business performance rises and falls with the ebb and flow of human performances. HR professionals lead the search for ways to enhance the effectiveness of employees in their jobs today and prepare them for tomorrow. Over the years, training programmes have grown into corporate with these goals in mind. Training programmes should enhance performance and enrich the contributions of the workforce. The ultimate goal of training is to develop appropriate talent in the workforce internally.
Training has made significant contributions to development of all kinds. Training is essential; doubts arise over its contribution in practice. Complaints are growing over its ineffectiveness and waste. The training apparatus and costs have multiplied but not its benefits. Dissatisfaction persists and is growing at the working level where the benefits of training should show up most clearly. This disillusionment shows in many ways — reluctance to send the most promising people for training, inadequate use of personnel after training etc. With disillusionment mounting in the midst of expansion, training has entered a dangerous phase in its development.
Training is neither a panacea for all ills nor is it a waste of time. What is required is an insight into what training can or cannot do and skill in designing and carrying out training effectively and economically.
The searchlight of inquiry may make the task and challenges stand out too starkly, too simply. Using experience with training in India and other rapidly developing countries has this advantage at similar risk. The contribution that training can make to development is needed acutely and obviously. At the same time, the limited resources available in these countries make this contribution hard to come by. These lines are sharply drawn; on the one hand, no promise can be ignored; on the other, no waste is permissible.
Much of the training provided today proceeds as if knowledge and action were directly related. This assumption is itself a striking illustration of the wide gulf that separates the two. On a continuum with personal maturation and growth at one end and improvement in performance of predetermined tasks at the other, education lies near the former, and training near the later. Focusing training on skill in action makes the task wide and complex. Training embraces an understanding of the complex processes by which various factors that make up a situation interact.
For every training strategy, no matter which, the proper focus right from the very outset is on one or more people — on-the-job-in-the-organization — this whole amalgam. Wherever the focus moves during the training programme, the starting point becomes the focus again at the end. The difference lies in what people have learned that they now apply. That difference, in terms of more effective behavior is the measure of the efficacy of training.
The training process is made up of three phases:
- Phase 1: Pre-training. This may also be called the preparation phase. The process starts with an understanding of the situation requiring more effective behavior. An organization’s concerns before training lie mainly in four areas: Clarifying the precise objectives of training and the use the organization expects to make of the participants after training; selection of suitable participants; building favorable expectations and motivation in the participants prior to the training; and planning for any changes that improved task performance will require in addition to training.
- Phase 2: Training. During the course of the training, participants focus their attention on the new impressions that seem useful, stimulating and engaging. There is no guarantee that the participants will in fact learn what they have chosen. But the main purpose remains: participants explore in a training situation what interests them, and a training institution’s basic task is to provide the necessary opportunities. Having explored, participants try out some new behavior. If they find the new behavior useful, they try it again, check it for effectiveness and satisfaction, try it repeatedly and improve it. Finally, they incorporate this new facet into their habitual behavior in the training situation. If they do not find it useful, they discard it, try some variant, or discontinue learning in this direction. The intricate process of selection and testing is continuous and more or less conscious. It is important that work organizations meanwhile prepare the conditions for improved performance by their participants upon their return.
- Phase 3: Post-training. This may be called the “follow up” phase. When training per se concludes, the situation changes. When the participants return back to work from the training, a process of adjustment begins for everyone involved. The newly learned skills undergo modification to fit the work situation. Participants may find their organizations offering encouragement to use the training and also support for continuing contact with the training institution. On the other hand, they may step into a quagmire of negativity.
More effective behavior of people on the job in the organization is the primary objective of the training process as a whole. In the simplest training process, improvement is a dependent variable, and participants and organizations independent variables.