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Through training and development a superior workforce can be developed by the organization which can gain a competitive advantage over the competitors. Career enhancing skills, knowledge and abilities are always welcomed by the employees working in the competitive labor market (Laird, 1985). Highly skilled workforce is definitely a valuable asset to the company and this workforce can be made through effective training and development. Some of the theories related to training and development are discussed below.
Kirkpatrick's learning and Training Evaluation Theory
In 1959, Donald L Kirkpatrick's ideas were published in a series of articles in Training and development journals. Same articles were published in 1975 in his book Evaluation of Training Programs and since then this theory has been used widely for the purpose of evaluation of training and development. The four levels defined in this theory are now considered as the standard in HR and training communities (Gagne & Driscoll, 1988). This theory defines the following four levels of evaluation:
Reaction Evaluation - This level of evaluation contains the feeling of the delegates about the training experience. This can be obtained by conducting the post training surveys asking the participants about learning experience or increase in skill level after the training.
Learning Evaluation - This level of evaluation measures the increase in the knowledge of the trainee after participating in a training program. This can be obtained by taking assessment test before and after the programs.
Behavior Evaluation - This level of evaluation measure the level of expertise applied on the job which is learned from the training. This is done by conducting periodic interviews assessing the change, relevance and sustainability of change among the trainees.
Results Evaluation - In this level of evaluation the trainee is assessed from effects on the business environment posted by him/her. This assessment is not difficult on individual basis as his daily routine activities and reporting style elaborates the picture itself.
B.F. Skinner, who belongs to behaviorist school of thought, developed this theory which explains that behavior will be repeated by the learner which has positive consequences/reinforcement (Laird, 1985). The organizational objectives should be aligned with the training and development programs and those should be backed by positive reinforcement such as awarding the certification at the end of course or associating promotion of salary raise with the training program. If this is so then the learner/trainee will definitely show more interest in the training and development programs and ultimately will be beneficial to the organization.
Gagne's Learning Types
The theory suggested by Gagne presented five categories of learning and different types of instruction are required by each category. This theory focuses on the learning of intellectual skills (Gagne, 1985). Different external and internal conditions are necessary for each type of learning. Five categories include verbal information, cognitive strategies, intellectual skills, attitudes and motor skills.
Social Learning Theory
Albert Bandura proposed social learning theory, which suggests that all types of learning cannot be addressed by direct reinforcement (Bandura, 1973). This theory makes an addition of social element. Bandura believed that people learn and gain information by watching at other people around them (Cherry, 2010). This type of learning is known as observational learning and this can be used for the explanation of different behaviors. Following are three basic social learning concepts defined in the theory:
Observations - People learn by gaining the observation from the surroundings or from other people. In an organizational perspective the surroundings should be set in way that employees learn from them (Bandura, 1986).
Mental States - Mental states are very important for the purpose of learning. Mental states can be made positive by providing the employees rewards, pride, job satisfaction and recognition. This increases the thirst of learning among the employees and they will actively take part and show more interest in training and development programs.
Change in Behavior - Observational learning demonstrates that new information can be obtained without changing the behaviors. However, not all the observation results in effective learning for that the attention, retention and reproduction of information and motivation to implement that is very important (Bandura, 1986).
Experiential Learning Theory
C. Rogers in his theory differentiated two learning types i.e. experiential and cognitive. This type of learning addresses the wants and needs of the learner. The qualities of experiential learning include the personal involvement of the learner, self-evaluation and initiation and persistent effect in learner (Rogers & Freiberg, 1994).
People Development Approach by npower
Form the case study it is evident that at npower there is a culture of trust and its emphasis on forward thinking by delegating the decision making power to all levels throughout the organization. An environment has been given to the employees that facilitate the process of training and development. This gives an indication towards the use of experiential learning theory where the involvement of the learner is actively required and self-initiation and evaluation is conducted by at all individual level meanwhile the organization also facilitates the environment of learning. Further reading the case study it also gives an indication of the use of social learning theory by npower, where the employees learn by watching towards the other employees and their supervisors/managers.
Personal Development Plan
Graduate (Mechanical engineering)
17 August, 2010
Fresh Graduate having the knowledge of modern studies and skills.
Employee of leading Energy Company in United Kingdome with more than 11,000 employees across 60 sites.
Experience of preparing tenders and contract management (office based work).
Experience of Plant inspection, overhauls and improvements (factory based work).
Not enough practical experience of the relevant field.
Worked for different responsibilities in short span of time, didn't allowed a proper grip on any particular area.
A proper understanding of communication channels with different level of employees which helps to reduce the delay factor and allows a better communication among the stakeholders. However this skill is at beginner/initial level and needs to be enhanced further to expert or at least moderate level.
Understanding of Communication Channels
Effective Time Management
Effective time management for all the tasks related to complete the responsibilities of the job. Effective time management helps to reduce the time wastage and proper attention can be given to each task.
Data is required to be gathered form different sources and the skill to gather the data is to be enhanced as this is an initial level for further working to create new processes or to evaluate current situation. Advanced level of data gathering skill from different internal and external sources is required.
Data analysis skill and the knowledge of appropriate statistical approaches are to be learned. This skill includes the ability to judge the accuracy of the results form data analysis using different tools or techniques.
Conducting meetings with Stakeholders
The approach or skill to conduct the meetings and to lead the corporate meetings among the stakeholders is required to be learned. Leading the business meetings is an intelligent task which is required to be learned.
Preparing and Managing budgets
Budgeting is an important part for any project. Proper allocation of budgets and resources is of utmost importance for the success of any project. The current job requires this skill and ability to prepare and manage the budgets.
Communications with the Top Management
Communicating with the top management contains a certain level of professionalism. A different level of convincing power is to be learned to convince the top management is required to be learned.
Critical Review on People Development Approach by npower
Before analyzing the people development approach of npower, it is very important to elaborate the other approaches for people development.
Training and development was not practiced by the organization in the past. It was thought that managers are not made as they are born. The old views about the training were that this is a non-worthy activity which has no fruitful results (Armstrong, 2001).
Organizations realized the importance of corporate training with the passage of time. Training is now considered as amore retention tool rather than a cost.
Using the modern approach organization can train the employees by different methods and techniques. The methods and techniques are categorized in to cognitive and behavioral methods.
Cognitive methods are more of giving theoretical training to the trainees. The various methods under the cognitive approach provide the rules for how to do something, written or verbal information demonstrate relationship among concepts, etc. Cognitive training focuses on changing in knowledge and attitude by learning through lectures, demonstrations, discussion, and computer based training etc.
Behavioral Methods (npower approach)
These methods are more focused on giving practical training. Referring to the case study, npower is more focused towards the practical training in which it allows the trainee to behavior in a real fashion (Armstrong, 2001). Through the practical training the company develops the best skills among the employees. I the case study it has been witnessed that the company delegates the powers and responsibilities at different levels allowing the employees to learn the skills by practical experience. An employee is involved in different activities in order to enhance the skills and knowledge of each level.
At npower there are three different levels of decisions and the power of decision making is delegated to different levels of employees. This delegation of decision making power is based on the amount of risks involved in the decision making. This approach to assign the responsibility and decision making power according to the known competency and skills of the employee is very effective as the employee feel more involved in the company matters and the motivation level is also increased. Employee feels the organization as its own organization and makes the decision with extreme loyalty and in the best interest of the organization. However, the high risky decisions that involve the strategy making are taken by the top executives as they have the appropriate skills and competencies to overlook the matters in the broader context. It is the responsibility of the top executives that the strategies are made in the right direction knowing the human capabilities and resources possessed by the company. In this way the decision making skills and skill for analyzing the situation in broader perspective is enhanced.
The tactical decisions which are required to work in the direction of the strategies decided by the top executives are left at the discretion of the managers. This gives an indication that every employee is given a full chance to work independently and can take its own decision. The tactical decision is short term and can be altered according to the changing environment. In this context the ability to react according to the changing business requirement is enhanced. The ability of the managers to analyze the situation and sense the upcoming business requirement is increased as he/she makes alteration in the decisions in order to keep aligned with the aims and objectives of the strategic decisions.
In the end the operational decision which are to be taken on daily basis and contains very less amount of risk are taken by the low level staff themselves. For instance if an employee diagnose the problem in a machinery and he knows that it is to be changed then it will be changed by the employee rather than initiating the approval request to the manager and then wait for the manager's approval. In this way the low level staff is also encouraged to take the right decisions and organization gets benefit from the speedy decision as the work is not suffered.
Law is an instrument of social justice of the state that seeks to provide justice, stability and security in the society. It assures uniform application of the laws by regulating the behaviour and interactions of individuals against each other. Government of UK has passed several legislations over the past years which are aimed to protect consumers and employees (Cuts, 2010). Furthermore there are certain legislations to maintain the competition in the market and to ensure that no organization gains the benefit from its monopolistic behaviour. Following are the legislations which are to be followed by the businesses operating in UK, like npower
In order to ensure that all the employees are treated fairly by their employees, UK government have passed several legislations which are aimed to protect the rights of the employees (Cuts, 2010). These are:
The Equal Pay Act (1970) - Under this act all the organizations are bound to provide the equal pay and working environment keeping aside the difference of gender.
The Health and Safety Work Act (1974) - Under this act the organization are bound to provide a safe and healthy environment to all the workers.
The National Minimum Wage Act (1998) - This act restricts the employer to pay less than £3.59/hour to full time staff.
To ensure the protection of consumer rights the businesses operating in United Kingdome have to follow the following legislations (Cuts, 2010).
The consumer credit Act (1974) - Every business which offers credit facilities to the customers need to obtain a licence from Director General of Fair trading. Moreover, the company have to show APR (annual percentage rate) which will be charged. From the case study it was identified that npower provides electricity and gas services to the large corporations such as BT, Ford and Wembley stadium. The company provides the credit facilities to such big clients and have to follow the procedure mentioned in this act.
The Trade Descriptions Act (1968) - Under this act the organization is bound to deliver those product and services and facilities (if any) which are committed and makes it illegal for an organization to mislead the customer in the descriptions of their products/services.
The Consumer Protection Act (1987) - Under this act that business will be held accountable for a false or misleading price indication.
In order to ensure the consumers from being charged the high prices or restring options and to eliminate the anti-competitive business practices, Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is responsible. The purpose of this body is to ensure the implementation of Fair Trading Act (1973). OFT, if feels that business is charging high prices and is against the public interest, can recommend that business to Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) for further investigation. OFT can also set the maximum prices to abolish the monopoly of any organization, set quality standards and establish the bodies to monitor the business practices (Cuts, 2010).
Another body named as Competition Commission, is responsible to investigate the takeovers and mergers of larger corporations and to endure that consumer rights are not violated with monopolistic behaviour. This body is not authorized to take legal action directly rather it can recommend the business committing the violation to OFT for further action (Cuts, 2010).
PESTEL analysis is a tool used to analyse the external factors of an organization. This analysis helps the managers to understand and analyse the forces at macro level, which can affect the business. There are several forces at macro level, which can affect the human resource policies, procedures and practices of npower, below is a brief discussion on such forces:
RWE npower is operating in a country where there are several legislation to protect the consumer and employee rights (Refer to Task 04). Human resource policies of the organization can be affected with the change in law. For instance there is law of minimum wage rate of £3.59/hour to full time worker, if it is changed then the HR practices and policies will be changed accordingly. Regional political crisis can also affect the human resource practices and as RWE npower is a German based company so the internal political crisis will also have an effect on the organization. Moreover, power shift rate between the major parties and political shift rate of the industry can also have an impact on HR policies of npower.
There are several factors related to the economy of UK and the world which can affect the organizational policies and procedures. The first is the change in inflation rate, the organization will have to increase the wage rate and salaries of the employees with the increase in inflation rate as per the regulations. Secondly, the worst economic condition of the world has affected the business all across the world and several businesses have to go for downsizing which has several regulatory issues.
The world is becoming a smaller place as far as the business is concerned. There are many organizations that are operating across the cultural and geographical boundaries in order to increase their global market share and profits. Along with the other business function the human resource policies, services, procedures and structures should also support the globalization (Gioia, 2010). RWE npower is operating in different countries and there are several challenges faced by the organization to manage the human resource functions. The biggest task is to develop and implement the HR practices which are applied consistently at different offices. Meanwhile, the local culture, norms and believes are also required to be considered. For this purpose the company needs to consider its function of human resource as a strategic business partner rather than just an administrative service which is maintaining employee's data. The company needs to involve the HR department in the process of development and implementation of business and people strategies. Globalization of resources both human and otherwise is not easy for any organization. The need is to realize that global HR function will serve the organization by utilizing the existing talent across multiple cultural and geographic boundaries (Gioia, 2010).
Social forces can also affect the organizational policies. There are different laws which put a legal binding on the organization operating in UK to provide their workers a safe and healthy environment (refer to Task 04). Insurance is must for full time employees and this is the responsibility on the part of organization. The change in such laws will affect the HR policies and procedures in a positive or negative manner. Other government bodies such as Labour Ministry, Well-being organization, Social security organization, Interior Ministry etc. can bring the change in different procedures which have to be followed by the organizations.
Technology is changing rapidly, and businesses have to adapt the latest technologies to remain and compete in the market. The change in technology or new innovation can make the existing technology used by the RWE npower obsolete. In such case the company's policies and procedures will be affected and needs to be changed. Furthermore, legislation on technology by the government will also affect the organization's HR practices (Armstrong, 2001).
The factors include the effect on business activities from changing weather and climate conditions. Under health and safety act the organizations are bound to provide safe and healthy environment to the workers and in case of changes in weather conditions the organization have to change the procedures in order to provide the safe environment to the employees however, such forces have no significant effect on the HR practices of npower.
There are many factors which are related to the legal environment in which the firms are operating (Armstrong, 2001). In the past few years the government of United Kingdome have passed little legislation such as disability discrimination act and age discrimination act which have changed the HR practices of the business (Cuts, 2010). Introduction of such legislation of amendments in the existing legislation can affect the human resource functions of npower.
Human Resource Management assisting Change Management
The process of change must be understood by the human resource functions. Human resource function should be aligned with the line mangers as they are the key personnel who lead the process of change and assist those who are in the process of implementation. Human resource management should assures that for change process there should not be only a top-down approach where the top executives take the decision and the change process has to be followed by the employees. In this way the process might be implemented, but without any fruitful results. For effective change management process it is very necessary to engage the employees in the whole process as this will energize and motivate them and will produce sound results. Effective human resource management can bring the new and innovative ideas out of the employees which can help in the change process and which contribute to the success of the business (Ulrich, Losey & Lake, 1997). Referring to the case study RWE npower also encourages it's all employees to take active part in the decision making process and an example of this is the "Strategic Spare Parts Project". Therefore the human resource management function at RWE npower totally support and assists the change management process.