Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change: An Introduction to Strategic Human Resource Development

By Jerry W. Gilley; Ann Maycunich | Go to book overview

PREFACE

No longer can HRD professionals simply buy training programs from vendors, schedule a training session, deliver a fun-filled day of instruction, conduct simple smile sheet evaluations asking participants to react to the training event, and hope some how the employees will go forth and suddenly improve their performance. Yes, this is a grim overview of a worst-case scenario depicting HRD as a superficial, activity-based field of practice. Unfortunately, we have witnessed this example several times over the years However, the field of HRD and its professionals have changed dramatically during the past twenty-five years. Gone are the days of providing training activity hoping that employees will miraculously improve their knowledge and skills, which will some how enhance organizational performance. In their place are dedicated, determined, and professional individuals who spend their energy and effort helping their organization design learning cultures, create performance management systems, and implement change initiatives. Each of these activities is directed at altering the organization's structure, mission, strategy, leadership, managerial practices, and work climates. As a result, the field of HRD and its professionals have enhanced their credibility within organizations.

One observation that we have made during the past decade is that HRD professionals tend to align themselves with one of three philosophical orientations. This is much like joining a political party, by which HRD professionals embrace their assumptions, beliefs, policies, principles, and practices. Ultimately, these alignments affect their decisions and actions and the assumptions that they make when addressing performance issues and change initiatives. The three orientations within HRD include organizational learning, organizational performance, and organizational change. We refer to these as the professional practice domains of HRD.

Those professionals who embrace organizational learning believe that learning is the primary purpose of HRD. From their perspective, HRD professionals are primarily responsible for creating learning cultures that foster continuous employee learning. They contend that learning is the key to organizational development and change. Furthermore., they embrace the principles and practices of the learning organization, action learning, and critical reflection and their application within organizations.

When a performance problem exists within an organization, learning-oriented HRD professionals will typically rely on training solution as a way of dealing with

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