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The Seven Key Challenges Facing Training and Development

Article excerpt

There is increasing pressure on staff at banks and other organizations to perform quickly, perform well, and adapt to change in a heartbeat. No longer is skill development the only hat worn by trainers. And in addition to dramatic shifts in responsibilities and accountability, effective training and development functions are finding themselves an integral part of the organization's strategic planning.

In banks and other business organizations, few things change as much as the training and development function. Change can be seen from numerous perspectives, including the way programs are initiated, developed, designed, and delivered. The various individuals that comprise the process - from trainees to immediate managers, to professional staff, to senior management - are changing perspectives and paradigms on training and development.

Performance Resources Organization surveyed more than 2,000 practitioners and pulled additional data from literature searchers and workshops designed for senior training and development executives to determine the most important trends in the training and development field. The seven trends discussed in this article represent very difficult issues that have not been tackled appropriately in the past and are true challenges for all industries.

1. Measuring the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Training and Development in a Systematic Way

Although the training and development field has focused on program evaluation for many years, the full scope and emphasis of evaluation has shifted significantly. Most organizations now take a more systematic, logical, and strategic approach to their evaluation processes. One example is Nortel, a large global telecommunications company with 70,000 employees. Every program within Nortel's Learning Institute includes a plan to determine a specific level of evaluation. Routine impact studies are developed around important and critical programs and the results are reported regularly to senior managers. All Learning Institute staff members have been trained in the evaluation process. Detailed policies and procedures have been developed and a variety of documents have been created to help communicate evaluation philosophies, strategies, techniques, and objectives throughout the organization. Managers are included in all phases of the process, beginning with the needs assessment and concluding with review of the impact study results. Nortel serves as a model for what most organizations are pursuing today.

Table 1

Five levels of evaluation

Level                         Measurement Focus

Reaction & Planned Action     Measures participant satisfaction with
                              the program and captures planned
                              actions.

Learning                      Measures changes in knowledge, skills,
                              and attitudes.

Job Applications              Measures changes in on-the-job
                              behavior.

Business Results              Measures changes in business impact
                              variables.

Return on Investment          Compares program benefits to the
                              costs.

A comprehensive post-evaluation involves several elements:

* The evaluation framework is adopted. Recently, the traditional four-level model for evaluation of training and development programs has been extended to five levels.(1) Table 1 shows a modified model of the evaluation levels. The addition of the fifth level brings focus to the return on investment (ROI) of a program.

* Evaluation is built into the process whenever there are new programs. Evaluation begins with needs assessment for which specific measures and job performance needs are identified. Evaluation strategies are then developed along with the program objectives. Next, the program is designed, developed, and delivered with a focus on the desired outcome determined by application and impact objectives. …