Management ; Organisational behaviour

An additional analysis can be done at the demographic level by determining the specific training needs of various demographic groups such as employees of different age groups, men and women, and certain ethnic minorities. Access to training and development will be given to all staff members regardless of their ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, disability, age, employment grade, part-time status or any other irrelevant factor. Staff with disabilities should be encouraged to identify any particular requirements they may have to enable them to fulfil their role and also to participate fully in all staff development events offered, such as materials in alternative formats, sign language interpreters and ergonomic seating.

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The above analysis helps to accurately identify the training needs of the employees and provide information to guide the development of specific training techniques. It has been strongly argued that effective training programmes should be based on the analysis of training needs on many levels rather than simply focusing on one level. In addition the organisation must consider the impact of a proposed training programme in terms of both the potential benefits such as increased efficiency and productivity and the potential costs of the programme itself. All data collected at organisation-level, department level, and job level as well as feedback on individual performance, both from worker and supervisor, is collated into a report showing the training needs that have arisen, the extent of these needs and any other issues that have become evident.

A report analysing the organisation, its departments, individual job roles and workers needs along with evaluation of existing practices, allows a policy to be constructed which will provide effective training and development beneficial to both the organisation and its workers. It reviews any current staff development policies and their effectiveness, using the strengths and weaknesses evident to develop a framework for future staff training and development. This report is based on input from all those involved with the organisation including staff members, service users and funders, consultation with formal and informal educators and an analysis of sector needs.

The completed analysis report will give recommendations for suitable training programmes, appropriate timescale and resources required. It will also state effective means of evaluation and proposed costing. A staff development policy focusing on the current developmental requirements can then be produced. The roles and responsibilities of the organisation, its managers and of individuals will be determined, identifiable training and development needs throughout the organisation and the activities/ training programmes designed to meet these needs will be stated. Training programmes should take into account the different learning styles of workers.

Managers should be able to determine which approaches will motivate and develop individuals’ skills. Following on from Kolbs work, Honey ; Mumford (1986) categorised four learning styles; The Activist, Reflector, Theorist and The Pragmatist. Developmental activities using all four styles should be available and used to implement an appropriate staff development policy. The policy must be agreed by all concerned parties before being finalised. New and old employees should be given the staff development policy to read thoroughly and sign once they agree to it. Any problems arising should be reported as soon as possible, discussed and appropriate changes made to the policy.

Once the policy has been agreed, the staff training and development can begin. Those implementing the policy are responsible for ensuring that training is provided at suitable times and locations and that job cover / overtime is arranged if necessary. Investing in workers by providing training and development will increase their value to the organisation, a process that in turn improves the organisation and makes it more likely to react to a changing environment. Ulrich (1996) states “Successful organisations will be those that are able to quickly turn strategy into action; to manage processes intelligently and efficiently; to maximise employees’ contribution and commitment; and to create the conditions for seamless change”.

Organisations need to have the ability both to recognise the potential of people-management practices and then to apply them within a coherent strategic framework. Education and development needs to be an essential component of an organisation’s people management strategy. There are many different types of training that contribute to an individual’s personal and professional development, and workers are encouraged to consider the range of opportunities available to them. Some activities are undertaken with the specific aim of enhancing skills and/or imparting information. Examples of these include attending a seminar or training course, reading, work-shadowing and mentoring. Epilepsy Action encourages all unpaid workers to undertake the ‘Accredited Volunteer Scheme’, an in-depth training programme for Epilepsy Action volunteers.

Many organisations encourage employees to study for recognised academic and vocational qualifications through part time study, correspondence courses, or open and distance learning. Alternative opportunities offering the potential for development may arise in the course of normal work activity. Examples of these include being involved in a secondment or project where the individual acquires new skills or knowledge or discussing how to deal with a particular problem with a colleague. In these situations, learning is far greater where the opportunity is identified in advance, with attention drawn to identifying the generic skills or general principles and considering how they may be applied in other similar situations.

The organisation is responsible for assessing the financial implications of staff development activities, prioritising needs and allocating funds between organisational, departmental and individual training pots. For financial reasons in-house training is preferred by the majority of organisations although it is important to accept limitations and to access external training where appropriate. With all the training opportunities funding will be a consideration and finances should be allotted before training begins, taking into account the most cost-effective methods, existing procedures, resources and expertise wherever possible.

In order to ensure all the organisations’ developmental activities are of a high quality and appropriate to departmental / individual needs, feedback from the workshops or other staff development activities should be encouraged. If a staff development need is identified as not being met within the current programme, this should be rectified as soon as possible. Evaluation is required to ensure that each course or workshop is designed to meet organisational needs and those of individual participants. It is also helpful to have follow-up contact with workers after they have attended training programmes to ensure they were relevant and of good quality.

Effective staff development strategies within a Youth and Community organisation should demonstrate a clear commitment to training and development from all involved, regardless of their position. The evaluation of these strategies should be a continuous process which evolves with the needs of its service users in order for the organisation to continue successfully. Organisations that simply plod along, giving the same staff development training year after year without re evaluating their strategies may find they are not satisfying the needs of the people they aim to assist. Establishing performance indicators against which the development of the organisation, its teams and individuals can be measured is important in order for further evaluation to take place.

An organisations staff development policy should transform over the years as changes occur within the organisation, its workforce and its users. Changes in legislation mean that organisations must provide training in areas they may have not considered before. In addition, the organisation’s own requirements may alter. Charitable organisations, for example, may have to adapt the services they provide in order to meet funding requirements, thereby demanding different skills from staff.

The skills of new and existing members of staff will have changed over the years and their personal career development interests will influence this. As their roles bring new challenges, they will require appropriate training in order to work competently. An organisation which uses detailed analysis of its own organisational and departmental needs and those of all its employees, to compile an up-to-date effective staff development policy, which is then put into practice with regular reviews and evaluation should have a content and constructive workforce.

Staff development policies aim to enable individuals to acquire knowledge and skills which will allow them to fulfil current responsibilities more effectively, to work more effectively in teams and to respond to the demands placed on them by organisational change at faculty, department or division, or section level. The opportunity to develop skills and/or gain qualifications which contribute to the achievement of agreed personal and career development goals is a big motivator for both individuals and the organisation.

This definition supports not only the more traditional forms of development such as briefing sessions, seminars, conferences and workshops, but also allows more progressive forms of development such as mentoring, work shadowing, individual advice sessions, secondments and self directed learning. As such it reinforces the concept of continuous professional and personal development. Staff development policies should ensure the fair and effective management of individual performance needs. Any alterations to staff development policies should be agreed by all involved and this will be key to their successful implementation.