A Collaborative Management Training Intervention: A Pilot Study for Small to Medium Enterprises

Article excerpt

Executive Summary

A business educator performed a management training intervention in collaboration with members of the human resource management office of a medium sized luxury resort. The intent was to demonstrate a single example of the synergistic outcomes associated with practitioner and academic professional collaborations within small-to-medium enterprises (SME). The results show that blended quantitative and qualitative techniques were appropriate for a single incident of organizational development (OD) diagnostics and interventions within a service-intensive organization. The conclusion presents a technique that may be replicated within other enterprises.

Introduction

Small to medium sized enterprises (SME) occasionally seek to engage in collaborations with academics and consultants to perform management interventions. In many cases these organizations lack the supportive infrastructure associated with larger corporate entities. These larger firms often use corporate trainers, human resource practitioners and organizational development specialists to assist with training and development within the enterprise. The focus of this paper is placed on practices that may be implemented by all of these individuals during organizational interventions. It is intended as a model of the use of blended research techniques that may be implemented by practitioners to measure and prove the value of benefits of management training. It is not the intent of the article to present a contribution to the empirical literature based on limitations discussed in later sections.

The article presents the findings from an organization development (OD) training intervention study conducted within a luxury resort located in the United States. The purpose of the article is to report on a successful process of collaboration between managers of a service enterprise and university researchers. The study employed both traditional and action research models. The article begins with a brief discussion of workplace training. Next, it progresses to a description of action research from historical and practical perspectives. The author then provides an overview of OD training interventions related to service operations. Next, the article articulates the nature of the specific intervention performed as part of the study. Finally, the author presents suggestions for practical applications of action research methods that may be used by researchers, managers and consultants to perform organizational development diagnostics and interventions within organizations.

In the interest of brevity, the article provides focus on a single training intervention. This is not to suggest that the training aspect is more important than other forms of OD interventions. It is fully recognized that a wide range of interventions are associated with OD as a discipline.

Training and Performance

Managing worker performance is a focus of managers in both large and small organizations. Performance management is the means for attaining continual improvement and survival in the current global economy. Professional managers continuously engage in diagnostics and interventions aimed at improving productivity measures within organizations. One study suggests that annual investments in workplace training are estimated at over two percent of an organization's total payroll expenditures (Van Buren & Erskine, 2002). Despite perceived economic ebbs and tides over recent years, one source found the average amount of money spent by organizations on training increased by approximately 10 percent from 2000 to 2001 (Van Buren & Erskine, 2002). It was reported that approximately $57 billion was spent on training in the United States alone in 2001 (Phillips, 2002; Van Buren & Erskine, 2002). It has been anecdotally observed that training and continuous improvements of worker knowledge and skills have persisted as being viewed as important functions within competitive organizations in more recent times. …