Learning organisation

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Explain the concept of a learning organisation?

A learning organisation focuses on expanding people's capacity and coming up with new ways of thinking. The four vital components for learning organisations are:
• Systems of thinking
• Personal mastery
• Shared vision
• Team learning (Garcarz et al. 2003).

Learning organisation is practiced by all members of the organisation and continuously transforms itself. In order to keep up with change, it is not advisable to practice survival learning. It is important to use practice creation learning. This method of learning allows organisations to adapt to change through innovation, new ways of working and problem solving. The structures vary based on the field firms operate. The use of soft human resource management models are using ways of:

• Empowerment
• Shared responsibility
• Skills
• Knowledge to sustain competitive advantage (Garcarz et al. 2003).

Motivation, morale and performance are high in these organisations. Leaning organisations play a vital role for organisations that are fast moving and operating in continuously changing environments. These organisations require learning organisations in order to be flexible to meet customer needs and expectations (Garcarz et al. 2003). Managers must share organisational goals with work force. The sharing of organisational goals makes workforce members feel as part of the achievement of the goals. This creates high motivation, morale and performance. Learning organisations realise that the workforce cannot expect to work in ever changing environments without providing training and education to adapt to change (Garcarz et al. 2003).

Learning organisations recognises that the whole workforce requires opportunities to learn, acquire skills, and knowledge that will be used in the environment which the organisation operates. The organisation and workforce will be able to adapt and keep pace of change. This is important for organisations that change from taller to flatter hierarchies.

What is lifelong learning?

The concept of lifelong learning recognises the need for people to continuously learn new skills, knowledge, develop new behaviour and attitudes. It ensures that the whole workforce has access to learning opportunities, processes that review performance and identifies learning needs (Garcarz et al. 2003).

Elements of lifelong learning

• Ethical learning
• Partnership learning
• A set of core values
• A set of standards
• A mechanism for defining expectations
• A process for systematic reflection (Garcarz et al. 2003).

Key elements of learning organisation structure

• Philosophy and vision: this element establishes commitment and desire to create a learning organisational culture
• Learning strategy: this element is the implementation of the learning culture
• Learning mechanism: this element demonstrates learning organisations in action (Garcarz et al. 2003).

Learning organisations help workforce and organisation to adapt to change. Change in the external environment affects the internal environment. Learning organisations operate both in the external and internal environment. The reason why learning organisations operate in both environments is to adapt to change.

2.2. With reference to an organisation of your choice critically evaluate how the five people behaviours to be encouraged in a learning organisation organisations, according to Peter Senge, can lead to the attainment of competitive advantage?

The organisation of my choice is Rand Water.

• Team learning:

this is the most important training unit at Rand Water. The individuals at Rand Water learn things for their own personal development; this method also enhances their performance. Learning in teams assures that team members at Rand Water have better understanding of knowledge through refection on performance, positive criticism, questioning assumptions and receiving feedback from teams.

• Shared vision:

Rand Water has a vision of its own. The vision at Rand Water is shared as a common vision of every individual employee. The employees at Rand Water understand, share and contribute to the process of achieving organisational goals. The employees are empowered, and take an active part in the process of decision making, feedback and suggestions. This provides a positive work culture to do things the way they want and not the way they have to.

• Mental models:

the individuals at Rand Water have their own perception on how the see the world. Rand Water encourages its employees to build open mental models to challenge and accept new information. The team members in this organisation continually challenge each other's ideas and assumptions constructively. This method helps the individual employees to change their own mind set and create shared mental models for teams as required.

• Personal mastery:

the individual employees at Rand Water contribute in the decision making, operational methods and performance with help of their own vision. The learning organisation at Rand Water encourages the employees to clarify and intensify their personal vision. This develops and self-esteem and confidence between employees as they tackle new challenges.

• Systems thinking:

learning organisation is a systems thinking that enables Rand Water to look at its interrelationship system as opposed to simple cause effect chains, allowing continuous processes to be studied than just taking snapshots (Sengupta and Bhattacharya. 2006).

Task 3
What is the importance of evaluating training for organisations?

The reason for evaluation determines the effectiveness of training programs. The factors that must be considered consist of:

• Determining needs
• Setting objectives
• Determining subject content
• Selecting participants
• Determining best schedules
• Selecting appropriate facilities
• Selecting appropriate facilities
• Selecting appropriate instructors
• Selecting and preparing audio-visual aids
• Coordinating the program
• Evaluating the program (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.3).

Evaluation guides us on how to improve future training programs. It also determines which programs have to be continued and eliminated. Evaluation also justifies the existence of training departments (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.19). After training is complete trainers evaluate the effectiveness of training. The evaluation determines individuals' performance on the job as expected. We can use evaluation to see whether the training program is useful for the organisations performance. It also identifies what is needed to improve the performance and what measures can be taken to better the performance. Identification plays an important role for the evaluation phase. The best way to evaluate training effectiveness should be conducted on the job. Another effective way to evaluate programs is through the use of monitoring programs (Human Resource Development Learners Guide HRDV2209 2009, p. 58).

3.2. Using practical examples analyse the usefulness of Kirkpatrick's model of evaluation.

Kirkpatrick's evaluation model consists of four level sequences to evaluate programs. Each of these levels is important and impacts each other. When evaluating each level, the process becomes more difficult and time consuming. None of these levels should be bypassed. The levels are:

• Reaction
• Learning
• Behaviour
• Results (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.3).

Evaluating reaction

Evaluating reaction is the same as measuring customer satisfaction. Trainees should react positively in order for the training to be effective. Measuring reaction is important for several reasons which are: it gives valuable feedback that helps us evaluate the programs as well as the comments and suggestions that can be used in future programs. It tells trainees that trainers are there to help them better their jobs. The evaluation sheet offers quantitative information that can be used to establish standards of performance for future programs (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.27).

Guidelines for evaluating reaction

• Determine what you want to find out
• Design a form that will quantify reactions
• Encourage written comments and suggestions
• Get 100 percent immediate response
• Get honest responses
• Develop capable standards
• Measure reaction against standards
• Communicate reactions as appropriate (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.28).

A practical example for reaction
The reaction sheet
Name of leader_________ Subject____________

• How do you rate the subject?
• Excellent
• Very good
• Good
• Fair
• Poor

Comments and suggestions__________________

• How do you rate the conference leader?
• Excellent
• Very good
• Good
• Fair
• Poor

Comments and suggestions__________________

• How do you rate the facilities?
• Excellent
• Very good
• Good
• Fair
• Poor

Comments and suggestions__________________

• How do you rate the schedule?
• Excellent
• Very good
• Good
• Fair
• Poor (Kirkpatrick 2007, p.42).

Comments and suggestions__________________

What would have improved the program?

Evaluating learning

Instructors in training programs can teach knowledge, skills and attitudes. When measuring learning, the trainer must answer one of the following questions: what knowledge was learned? What skills were developed and improved? What attitudes were changed (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.39)?

It is important to note that no change in behaviour can take place if learning objective were not accomplished. If there was never change in behaviour, learning never took place. There are times when learning takes place but the organisational boss may discourage the trainee from applying learning on the job, this means that no change in behaviour took place (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.39). Evaluating behaviour is more time consuming and difficult to understand than reaction (level1).

Guidelines for learning

• Use a control group if practical
• Evaluate knowledge, skill or attitude before the program
• Use a paper and pencil test to measure knowledge and attitude
• Use a performance test to measure skills
• Get 100 percent response
• Use the results of evaluation to take appropriate action (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.40).

A practical example to evaluate learning

Pre-test and pot-test scores for management inventory on management change
Experimental group
45.5 46.7
55.4 48.2
+ 9.9 + 1.5

Net gain= 9.9-1.5= 8.4

Evaluating behaviour

The concept of evaluating behaviour tries to answer the questions: what happens when the trainees leave the classroom and return to their jobs? How much transfer of knowledge skills and attitude occurs? The question that is most difficult to answer is: what change in job behaviour occurred because people attended a training program (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.45)?

We have to note that trainees cannot change behaviour until they are given the opportunity to. It is impossible to predict when change in behaviour will occur. Change in behaviour occurs after the trainee is given the opportunity to do so (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.48). Reaction and learning can take place immediately. When evaluating behaviour important decisions like: when to evaluate, how to evaluate and how often to evaluate? These questions must be taken into consideration.

Guidelines to evaluation

• Use a control group in practical
• Allow time for behavioural change to take place
• Evaluate both before and after the program if practical
• Survey or interview one or more of the following: supervisor or trainee
• Get 100 percent response
• Repeat evaluation at appropriate times
• Consider cost vs. Benefits (Kirkpatrick 1998, p.49).

Practical example

Patterned interview

• What specific behaviours were you taught and encouraged to use?
• When you left the program how eager were to change behaviour on the job?
• How well equipped were you to do what was suggested?
• To what extend do you plan on to do things in the future?
• What suggestions do you have to make the program more helpful (Kirkpatrick 2007, p.91)?

These questions must be considered during the patterned interview. They will give a clear indication on the employees' behaviour.

Evaluating results

Evaluating results provides an interesting challenge to train professionals. The reason why training is used is to show tangible results that more than pay for training costs. The training programs aim to increasing sales, reduces accidents, reducing turnover, and reducing scrap rates. These scrap rates are often evaluated in terms of tangible results. When evaluating results it is important to know what executives expect. If executives are satisfied about what they hear from participants and bosses it is important for the trainer to be thankful for the good results (Kirkpatrick 2007, p.121).

Guidelines for evaluating results

• Use control group if practical
• Allow time for results to be achieved
• Measure both before and after program is practical
• Keep in mind you are charged with demonstrating return on expectations
• Be satisfied with evidence if proof is not possible (Kirkpatrick 2007, p.110).

Intangible results

• Improved strategic focus in decision making
• Improved performance management
• Increased accountability of subordinate leaders
• Increased accountability for results
• Increased insight into personal development needs
• Higher employee engagement (Kirkpatrick 2007, p.102).

Practical example
Quick win score sheet

• What are you doing differently as a result of what you have learned from the leadership program?
• Have these actions improved? Your effectiveness as a leader? Your teams' effectiveness? Your organisations performance?
• If you feel that your actions have improved effectiveness please indicate in what areas?
• Productivity
• Employee management
• Quality of work
• Decision making
• Clarity about priorities
• Communication
• Collaboration
• Time to complete projects
• Other

What benefits have you, your team and organisation received from the leadership development (Kirkpatrick 2007, p.102)?