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Training and development (T&D) has clear motivational, performance and financial benefits to organisations since it works in partnership with their core processes aimed at creating mission-related products and services which have value to customers. However, in view of the fact that T&D is linked to an organisations core processes and works, and not as a goal on its own, most organisations find it difficult to fully appreciate the financial and other benefits associated with it (Swanson, 2001).
According to Sims (1998), where training and development initiatives are considered as a capital investment with a thoughtful and careful consideration of a business' needs, the returns on the investment can be hugely rewarding.
It comes without surprise, therefore, that organisations both private and public undertake training and development initiatives. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, as Beardwell (1994) pointed out, some organizations still do not realize the full benefit of the training and development programmes they have invested in. For this reason, this study will examine the causes of failure and the benefits attached to T&D.
3.0 THE RATIONALE
Many organisations seem to view employee development initiatives as more optional than essential; and consider the initiative as more of an expense rather than an investment. This view can be costly to both short-term profits and long-term growth (Beardwell, 1994).
There are evidences indicating that training and development are indeed considered as an expense because during difficult economic times when businesses are struggling, training and development remains one of the first programmes whose funding are cut or suspended all together when organisational finances are scrutinized. The purpose of investing in employee development is the expected return in performance and quality improvement. Therefore, the connection between performance and training and development is critical in justifying the resources allocated to such programmes (Ruona, 2000).
In difficult times organisations require the flexibility, skill and knowledge that can be attained through training and development to steer clear to safety. I believe that organisations that cut employee development programmes in difficult times stand to lose rather than gain. This research aims to explore the relationship between T&D and performance, how financial benefits may be derived from effective training and development programmes and why it is critical for organisations to embrace training and development as part of their business strategies if they aim for competitive advantage and sustainable growth. I believe that this research will contribute to finding answers to the growing debate of how significant training and employee development is to a business if it seeks to gain competitive advantage.
Although the issue of training and development applies to all sectors and industries, my primary focus in this research is on Deutsche Bank in particular. As one of the world's foremost investment banks, the study will focus on the bank's training and employee development initiatives and how those initiatives contribute to achieving long term growth and competitive advantage.
The banking sector is incredibly competitive; so banks must outperform their competitors in order to achieve significant growth. In this research, I will attempt to find out how Deutsche Bank's training and human resources development initiatives encourage an enabling environment for growth.
4.0 THE OBJECTIVE
Organizations invest a lot of resources in their physical infrastructures such as computers, land and buildings because they can easily justify such investments with expected returns, but often find it hard to establish a tangible relationship between training and development and organisational performance. My research will also aim to find out if a relationship exists between organisational performance and training and development; and to seek an understanding as to why some training and development initiatives are more successful than others.
5.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
In an increasingly changing and competitive business environment, organisations and employees need to be abreast with the changes around them and be prepared to face up to these changes in order to stay competitive. According to Garvin (2000), organisations must develop the intelligence, knowledge, and creative potential of human beings at every level of the organisation. This will ensure that people who are skilled and have had their potentials fully developed can occupy key places in the organisation, so that they can be motivated to relish change and have the intelligence and flexibility to adapt to new challenges and needs of the organisation.
Harrison (1992) argues that, organisations and individuals can, with time, acquire sufficient experience and knowledge to achieve growth and realise their full potential. However, I believe time is not the sole contributor to gain adequate knowledge and experience to achieve sustainable growth. There need to be a coherent and well planned integration of training, education and continuous development in the organisation if real growth at individual and organisational levels is to be achieved and sustained. This point is emphasised by Stewart and McGoldwick (1996) that, it is not enough for organisations to simply employ people to work for them and expect to achieve sustainable growth. This is because, even though the people employed might have a wealth of general knowledge and experience in their fields, such broad knowledge by employees and managers may not be sufficient to bring success to the business, unless the organisation train and develop them to meet the business' specific needs. Notwithstanding the fact that jobs and tasks may change quantitatively and qualitatively over time, Stewart and McGoldwick (1996) advocate that employees can be related to a firms raw materials and must therefore be 'processed' to enhance and improve their human capabilities, which would enable them undertake their jobs more efficiently and fit into the organisation's culture and strategies.
The Corporate Leadership Council and the Corporate Executive Board (2004) research into the relationship between performance and retention found most employees and managers would leave if the company they worked for did not provide a platform for personal development. The report further drew a parallel between companies with high employee turnover and lack of structured employee development programmes. Despite this fact, some organisations still take a lukewarm attitude towards human resources development because of their failure to recognise just how much human resources development contribute to maximizing the company's profits, since they are not tied to accounting numbers. Nonetheless, Reichheld and Teal (1996) highlight that if a company risks losing the loyalty and commitment of several of their management and workforce due to lack of personal development, then it is far too big a risk to ignore. This is more so important considering, the cost of recruiting and training new employees to replace new ones, coupled with the loss of productivity when new and inexperienced worker replace old hands cannot be over emphasised.
Nevertheless, there is an argument by Sims and Sims (1995) that many well meaning development and training programmes fail to yield the desired results because, most those programmes are designed for employees without taking factors such as individual learning styles into account. This raises the question of the extent to which processes and techniques employed by human resources professionals when administering T&D programmes to employees and managers affect the outcome. It may well be that some of the initiatives and programmes in which organisations have invested time, financial and physical resources might well be the right ones, but the method of administering the programmes could reduce its effectiveness and therefore must be investigated.
The research would not only bring out the benefits of training and development, but it would also investigate into why it should become a strategic objective because as Overfield (1998) pointed out, training should become part of the job with a clear set of goals, and that development is not attributed to the individual alone but the entire organisation as a whole. This stems from the fact that the organisation learns itself in the development process as much as the individual. Reading (1997) stresses that learning attained by organisations through training and development helps in determining its capability to transform itself for fast, fundamental change. Reading opines that a company is a learning organisation to the extent that it must intentionally build its capacity to learn as a whole and weave that capacity into all of its aspects, i.e. vision and strategy, leadership and management, culture, structure, systems and processes.
All the same, the issue of training and development raises some rather controversial issues in terms of who actually benefits from the development most. When organisations invest resources to train and develop their human resources, they do so with the view that their employees would in turn become more productive and extra aware of their environments and are better able to adapt accordingly. However, training and developing an organisation's human resource also increase their employability and might leave for competitors if offered better employment conditions. On that basis, would it be appropriate to expect employees to contribute to their personal development or does it justify why some organisations do not want to invest so much into training and development?
Keith and Hanley (2009) encourage organisations to identify the potential benefits of investing in people even during an economic downturn because during recovery, the experience gained by employees from training and development would lead to exceptional outcomes such as enhanced performance due to greater awareness of one's strengths and weaknesses. But while this is a sound argument, Russ-eft et al (1997) cautions against organisations engaging in training and development without clearly defined objectives. This point would lead my research to examine the behavioural models applicable to improving training and development and how that affects training and development; while examining the role of management in organisational learning process and how that might contribute to training and development processes.
6.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
6.1 The Research Approach
To properly evaluate any data collected during this research, I would employ both the positivism and interpretivism approaches as I believe they would enhance my understanding of the various matters arising from the data gathered. The fundamentals of these two approaches will allow me to adopt the realism approach to greater clarity and efficiency because, it will facilitate highlighting many possible reasons why several training and development programmes do not produce the desired effect; resulting in some organisations failing to see the importance of training and development. Since this is a human and social science related research, I will also follow the advice of Saunders et al (2002), and employ the realism approach as well, because it will gives me the chance to identify the relevance of the social make up of the people involved in the research so that their actions and meaning can be properly interpreted. The realism approach will also give me the platform to look over personal preferences of certain managers and employees who might have certain biasness towards training and development, and bring out the real reason behind why some initiatives fail to produce the desired results.
6.2 The Research Strategy
Given that my research seeks an explanation and relationships between variables as well as reasons behind a business situation, I have decided to use the deductive approach throughout my research. My research involves carrying out a survey; therefore quantitative data would be collected. As results, Saunders et al (2002) argues the case for a deductive approach, which I believe would help me to eliminate biasness when I analyze the collected data.
6.3 Methods of Data Collection
The essence of my research is to seek answers to why things do not go according to expectations or plan. It would involve seeking large quantities of data from managers, members of staff, and HR practitioners at Deutsche Bank. To facilitate this process, I will collect data from this group of people and the primary data collection method I will adopt is survey using questionnaire and interviewing. Questionnaires would offer me the opportunity to directly tailor questions and receive answers and feedback from my target group, most or all of whom would have had some form of training or personal development from the bank.
Secondary data collection would be done by using data already collected by Deutsche Bank (either externally or internally) in relation to their own human resources development programmes.
Given the time constraints and my limited finances I deem this approach very economical. Saunders et al (2002) also suggests that this approach provides a greater degree of response standardization and uniformity being able to control the expected large volume of data to be collected.
6.4 Data Analysis
According to Saunders et al (2002) the most efficient way to achieve consistency in data analysis is by the use of computer software. Mindful of the time constraints associated with this research, I shall use the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software in my data analysis to avoid manual analysis of the data, which can be time consuming and lead to possible mistakes, especially given the volume of data I expect to collect.
I will observe all laid down rules and ethics during this research. For instance, I will guard against plagiarism by ensuring that all data and pieces of information used in this study are correctly referenced.
O'Leary (2004) advocates for research to be valid, neutral and authentic, if it is to be recognised as credible. Otherwise, it risks being rejected as making a meaningful contribution to wider knowledge. This view is also shared by writers such as Pellissier (2008) and Saunders et al (2002). Therefore, in conducting this research I will be aware of these views to ensure that the study would not only follow acceptable procedure but also be of quality and meet generally acceptable level of dependability and credibility.
7.1 Respondent Confidentiality
I will undertake to ensure that anyone who agrees to contribute to this research knows what it is about and that their consents are fully granted. Among other things, I will endeavour to protect the privacy and anonymity of participants of my research questionnaires and other involvements. Sensitive and personal details such as age and names would be avoided to eliminate any issues of potential victimisation of workers by superiors who might view unkindly to views expressed by respondents.
6.2 Access to Data
As indicated earlier, primary data would be collected from questionnaires administered to workers and managers of Deutsche Bank; while secondary data would be obtained from their human resources department. Currently, negotiations are underway for the best possible way to achieve this objective.
However, to guard against any disappointments, discussions are also at an advanced stage with the Standard Chartered Bank of Ghana, for access to their data and employees in this study. This is to serve as a back up or alternative reference company should the agreement with Deutsche bank fall through.
8. 0 THE GENERALISABILITY
Although my emphasis in this research would be on Deutsche Bank, I believe the underlining principle and outcome would be applicable to all manner of sectors and organisations. For instance, if my research findings establish that the fundamental reason most human resources development initiatives fail is tied to the techniques in which they are delivered, it could create the awareness for organisations that do not realise the benefits of their T&D initiatives to review their method of delivery.
9.0 THE RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS
As part of the discussions to use Deutsche Bank as my reference company, I am also requesting access to the bank's e-questionnaire facilities. Nevertheless, I have plans to purchase an online e-questionnaire access should the bank not grand me access to their e-questionnaire facility. Currently, it cost £25 per hundred questionnaires; my budget for this purpose is £80.
I have earmarked £400 for conducting my questionnaire and interviews. I expect this figure to be significantly lower if all goes according to plan and have Deutsche Bank's agreement. As a budget, though, I have factored in communication and internet subscription and travelling, meetings and stationary expenses of my contact person in Ghana (if need be). It would also cater for petty expenditures such as meeting interviewees over for coffee and my travelling expenses in the UK.
As a student of Liverpool John Moores University, I will take advantage of the free statistical data analysis software offered by the university to reduce cost.
10.0 TIME TABLE OF ACTIVITIES
In view of the fact that I have exams and course assignments to submit in May, 2009; I plan to commence my dissertation in June, 2009 and realistically expect to finalize the work of my research by November, 2009.
However, Taking into account possible delays in arranging meetings and obtaining feedback from questionnaire respondents, as well as other factors such family commitments and the human tendency to lose track and focus (Swetnam, 2004), I have drawn up a time table of activities (please chart below) to guide my progress and to stay focused throughout the research, using the Gant Chart. The Gant chart will not only furnish a time table of events, it will also make it easier for me have a visual illustration of my progress (Saunders et al. 2002). By scheduling to finish in November, I would have allowed myself 4 weeks prior to the submission deadline in December; to counteract any mitigating circumstances unforeseen.