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/Costco is the largest warehouse club chain in the US. At the same time, the company is one of the largest employers in the US. Today, the company attempts to hold its leading position in the US and expand its market internationally. To meet this goal, the company pays a lot of attention to its human resource management. In actuality, human resources comprise an important part of the organization and Costco views its human resources as important marketing asset. In this regard, the company needs to develop its human resources to maintain its leading position in the market. In actuality, the company focuses on the development of training programs to improve the qualification of its employees and to encourage employees to maintain their professional development. However, the company should be aware of numerous challenges and pitfalls of training programs. Costco attempts to encourage self-development of their professionals and sharing knowledge within the company. This trend is very prospective but still to conduct human resource training programs successfully the company should take into consideration the Kirkpatrick model to evaluate its training programs.
On analyzing training programs and policies developed by Costco, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the company attempts to develop knowledge sharing management, which includes training programs oriented on sharing knowledge within the company. At the same time, the company needs to evaluate its knowledge sharing management and training programs developed in terms of the knowledge sharing management. At this point, it is possible to refer to the Kirkpatrick training evaluation model, which helps to assess adequately the efficiency of training programs developed within Costco.
Kirkpatrick distinguishes four levels of the training evaluation, including reaction, learning, behavior, and results. All the four levels are equally important for the evaluation of training programs. In fact, Kirkpatrick model implies that training programs should be evaluated as a whole, from the beginning of the development of training programs and their acceptance by the personnel of an organization to their overall implementation and results, which they bring to the organization. In fact, the adequate assessment of training programs allows Costco, as well as other companies, to define the strategic development of its training programs in a long-run perspective. Today, training programs are costly and, naturally, Costco attempts to maximize the efficiency of its training programs.
The first level of the evaluation of training programs is the reaction level. In fact, the reaction level allows Costco to assess how the learners react to the learning process. What is meant here is the fact that each training program evokes certain response from the part of employees involved in the program.
In this regard, knowledge sharing management and training programs developed in terms of this strategy evoke a particularly strong response from the part of employees working in Costco because knowledge sharing management implies that training programs involve employees working within Costco solely. Therefore, the company does not need to engage trainers from the outside. Instead, the company relies on its own professionals, who share knowledge with each other. In fact, knowledge sharing management training programs in Costco involve teams, where training occurs. The leader of a team is an experienced employee, who shares his or her knowledge with team members while working on certain tasks. In the course of their mutual work, team members develop new skills and abilities and acquire new experience. At the same time, team members can share the knowledge they have to maximize the effectiveness of team work. The development of training programs involving professionals working within the company decreases costs of training consistently. At the same time, knowledge sharing management preserves knowledge and information within the company preventing information breaches. In such a situation, the reaction of learners on the training process and programs is extremely important because learners should accept and respond positively to the training process.
In this regard, it is important to dwell upon the reaction of employees working in Costco on its training programs. In fact, when the company has just started to introduce knowledge sharing management, employees were not fully prepared to training programs. At the same time, the company did not stress the training nature of programs it conducted in terms of the knowledge sharing management. Instead, the company positioned its training programs as routine team work but the company always stressed that employees of the company had to learn from their work and acquire new experience. On completing projects, team members should report on their achievements, new skills, experience and knowledge they have acquired in the course of the team work on the project.
At first, employees were a bit surprised by such methods of the team work but, in the course of time, the first reaction of surprise shifted toward the positive reaction because employees have learned positive effects of their team work and they are conscious of its positive training effects above all. The company conducted the efficient communication policy within the company to communicate the idea that knowledge sharing is extremely important for the company. What is more important, Costco stressed that team work and knowledge sharing management have positive impact not only on the development of the company but also on the professional development of employees. As a result, employees grow more and more engaged in training programs. Therefore, Costco's employees have developed a positive reaction to training programs implemented within the company. The positive reaction of employees to training programs is an essential condition of the successful implementation of training programs and implementation of the knowledge sharing management.
At the same time, the company should take into consideration the learning, as another important level of training evaluation. According to Kirkpatrick model, the learning level of training evaluation is the extent to which the learners gain knowledge and skills. What is meant here is the fact that employees have to acquire new knowledge, develop new skills and abilities. The more successfully they acquire new knowledge, skills and abilities, the more effective training programs of the company are. In this regard, Costco attempts to maximize the effectiveness of its training programs through the maximization of the learning effect on employees.
Costco uses the knowledge sharing management to increase the effectiveness of the acquisition of new knowledge, skills and abilities. In this regard, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the knowledge sharing management implies the close cooperation between employees, who work together and know each other well enough. In such a way, employees participate in training programs in the familiar environment and, what is more important, the company attempts to create friendly ambiance to maximize the effectiveness of the acquisition of new knowledge and experience in the course of the training. The positive perception of training programs and healthy organizational culture contribute to the effective learning.
In addition, Costco increases the learning effectiveness through the motivation of employees. In fact, the company uses both material and non-material motivators. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that specialists (Gwynn, 2004) stress that non-material motivators may be equal or even more important than material motivators. In this regard, material motivators include bonuses and raises in salaries to employees, who have succeeded in training. Financial motivators can have a positive effect on training and perception of the learning material by employees. However, specialists (Mohrman, 1998) point out that material motivators can have a positive effect only in a short-run perspective, whereas in a long-run perspective the effectiveness of material motivators decreases substantially.
In this respect, the use of non-material motivators is more efficient, especially in a long-run perspective. Employees need to feel the positive feedback from their managers and from the company at large. Non-material motivation includes positive feedback to employees, encouragement of employees from the part of mangers, and other motivators. One of the most efficient motivators used by Costco is the promotion of employees, who participate in training programs As a result, employees are motivated to learn effectively. They are conscious of the fact that they can benefit if they succeed in training. The development of new skills and abilities and the extension of professional experience become an essential condition of the promotion and professional development of employees. In such a situation, the effectiveness of training increases substantially due to the high effectiveness of learning of highly-motivated employees. Employees are concerned with outcomes of training because they understand that their success in training will bring them not only material benefits but also this success will open new perspectives in terms of the career growth. This is why Costco focuses on the adequate perception of the learning material by employees and the effective acquisition of new skills and abilities.
Furthermore, Costco needs the evaluation of the behavior of employees involved in the training process to assess and evaluate its effectiveness adequately. According to Kirkpatrick, behavior, in terms of training evaluation, is the capability to perform the learned skills while on the job. To put it in simple words, employees involved in training programs of Costco should be capable to apply new skills and abilities they have learned in the course of training in their regular work. In fact, employees can often acquire new knowledge, new skills and abilities but they fail to apply them in the real life. In this regard, Costco has proved to be quite successful because the company applies the knowledge sharing management. The knowledge sharing management conducts training programs and integrates them into the regular work of employees. They work in teams and their team work on projects leads to the practical implementation of skills and abilities they learn in the course of training. In such a way, employees have ample opportunities to apply the skills they learn in the course of training in practice. Employees of Costco learn new experience and skills from their colleagues or managers in the course of team work. As a result, the effectiveness of training increases substantially due to the knowledge sharing management applied by Costco.
At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that Costco keeps employees motivating to implement their knowledge and skills, which they have acquired in the course of learning. In such a way, employees have additional motivation to implement new skills and abilities successfully. The company benefits from the effective training and implementation of new knowledge, skills and abilities acquired by employees in the course of training.
Finally, on the ground of the behavior and actions of employees after training programs, the company can assess the effectiveness of its training program focusing on results of training. According to Kirkpatrick, results of training include such items as monetary, efficiency, moral, etc. In this respect, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that employees' performance alone is not enough for the assessment of results of training programs. The company should asses not only the performance of employees but also results of the organizational performance at large. Employees do not work separately from others. Therefore, employees' performance is an important factor that influences results of training. However, the company should take into consideration the overall organizational performance. To put it more precisely, the company should keep growing steadily, along with the steady improvement of employees' performance. As a result, on the ground of employees' performance and organizational performance, the company can assess the results of its training programs.
However, Costco has substantial problems in regard to the training evaluation because the knowledge sharing management is closely integrated in the organizational performance and virtually inseparable from the regular performance of the company. Costco can improve its organizational performance as well as the improvement of employees' performance not only due to its training programs but also due to the improvement of technologies, introduction of new management approaches and other innovations. On the other hand, the company can rely on its training programs but to evaluate results of its training programs the company has to focus on the performance of those employees, who have completed training programs. To meet this goal, the company should analyze the performance of employees, who have completed training programs in the course of a year or more. In such a way, the company can evaluate the effectiveness of employees' training accurately.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that Costco uses the knowledge sharing management, which includes training programs involving employees and managers. However, training programs are integrated into the regular performance of the company and employees learn new skills and abilities from experience of other employees and managers. At the same time, the company needs to evaluate its training programs effectively. In this regard, Kirkpatrick training evaluation model allows assessing training programs at four levels, including reaction, learning, behavior, and results. In this respect, the company has proved to be quite successful in the development of its training programs. However, the company faces problems with the evaluation of results of its training programs. The company uses the knowledge sharing management, which integrates training programs into the regular organizational performance. Therefore, the company needs to trace employees' performance after completing their training programs. At the same time, the current performance of Costco proves the effectiveness of its training programs.