Onboarding Assignment Essay

The objective of this training is to impart knowledge, references, and key concepts to new corporate trainers that will increase their effectiveness in a Training & Development (T&D) department. This will be accomplished by answering five key questions: 1. What is T&D and why is it important?

2. What competencies must T&D professionals be able to demonstrate to be successful? 3. What influences T&D and why?
4. How is training designed, structured, and organized?
5. What are the traits of a successful T&D programs?
What is T&D and why is it important organizations?
T&D is how organizations invest in their employees (Cartwright, 2003). It’s the structured, planned, and targeted facilitation of “employees’ learning of job related competencies (Noe, 2010, p.5).” However, developing proficient, adaptable, and innovative team members is not a simple process. It has proven to be one of the most critical aspects of an organizations overall strategic objective. Organizations that embrace T&D easily adapt to their operational environment. It allows organizations to grow and learn from change by developing (or reinforcing) the requisite skills, knowledge, and attributes needed to remain competitive. For some organizations, the value gained in terms of intellectual and human capital, is incalculable. In the end, T&D not only cultivates a competitive advantage, but it provides achievement opportunities for employees. It’s these opportunities that drive organizational performance upward by engaging, retaining, and leveraging the talents of employees at all levels within the organization.

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What competencies must T&D professionals be able to demonstrate to be successful?

To stay relevant and effective, T&D professionals need to (1) identify what competencies to focus on, and (2) determine where to get started. The website of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) is a valuable resource in this regard. The ASTD is the worlds largest professional organization dedicated to the study of T&D. Their website, www.astd.org, is utilized by T&D professionals all over the world.

Since it’s founding in 1945, the ASTD has conducted periodic studies on T&D roles and competencies. These studies define the basic skills, knowledge, and attributes needed to be effective and they provide a listing of activities that could be grouped so a model and set of competencies could be maintained (Konan, 2011, p.18). Over the years, seven revisions were made, most recently in January of 2013. For those with limited training experience, this updated model provides a solid foundation of knowledge with which to begin. It also provides “key, specific actions these professionals must take—what they must do—to succeed (Arneson, Rothwell, & Naughton, 2013).” Further study of this model is highly encouraged and can be found on the ASTD website. As T&D evolves and competency models are revised, care must be taken to align development plans with current and future models to stay ahead of the curve. What influences T&D and why?

There are a variety of factors that influence T&D. The 2013 ASTD competency model itself was heavily influenced by: (1) the current recession and economic uncertainty, (2) the impact of digital, mobile, and social technology on training delivery, (3) demographic shifts, and (4) globalization (Arneson, Rothwell, & Naughton, 2013; Noe, 2013).” However, recent concepts such as integrated talent management; employee engagement; and crowd-sourced, collaborative, mobile, and continuous learning also influence T&D (The New World of Work, 2013; Noe, 2013). All of these examples affect “how we purchase products and services, how we learn, how we communicate with each other, and what we value in our lives and on the job (Noe, 2013).” The evolution of a knowledge-based economy has drastically changed the business landscape. “Competitive advantage and organizational performance is moving from investment in physical assets to investment in intangible knowledge-based assets (Sacui & Sala, 2012).” Andrew Mayo organized intangible assets into three main groups: (1) customer capital, (2) structural capital, and (3) human capital (1998). Together these make
up the intellectual capital of an organization, but the most important of the three groups is human capital. “Human capital refers to the sum of the attributes, life experiences, knowledge, inventiveness, energy, and enthusiasm that the company’s employees their work (Weatherly, 2003).” These intangible assets have proven to be critical aspects of an organizations competitive advantage. T&D has a direct influence on these assets because “they affect education, work-related know-how and competence, and work relationships (Noe, 2013, p.14). Another major factor influencing T&D is an organizations business strategy. A business strategy is defined as “a plan that integrates the company’s goals, policies and actions (Meister & Cone, 2000).” In large part, the strategic impacts of T&D revolve around this construct. How is training designed, structured, and organized?

A core competency of any T&D department is designing effective training. The foundational principle of this competency is a thorough understanding of the training design process. The training design process refers to a systematic approach for developing training programs (Noe, 2013, p.7).” There are varying schools of thought on the training design process. In fact, there is not one universally accepted model. Some propose a five-step process, others seven, and some identify ten. However, for the purposes of this training, we will focus on a seven step process as annotated by Raymond Noe in his text “Employee Training & Development”: (1) conduct a needs assessment, (2) ensure employee are ready for training, (3) create a learning environment, (4) ensure transfer of training, (5) develop an evaluation plan, (6) select the training method, (7) monitor & evaluate the program

The first step is to conduct a needs assessment to identify training gaps between actual employee performance and desired outcomes. This affords an opportunity to refocus and gather insights to improving the organization. Step two, ensure employees are ready for training, refers to whether learners have the personal characteristics (ability, motivation, attitudes and beliefs) necessary to learn and transfer training (Noe, 2009). Creating a learning environment is the third stage of the design process. This step
identifies learning objectives, meaningful material, practice, feedback, community of learning, modeling, and program administration (Noe, 2010). Ensuring transfer of design is the fourth step. Essentially, this step ensures that employees apply what they learned in training at their jobs. The type of transfer of training needs to be considered prior to the development (Noe, 2009). The employee must understand “how to manage skill improvement as well as getting co-worker and manager support (Noe, 2010).”

In order to demonstrate that learning occurred, evidence in the form of an evaluation plan must be developed. In the fifth step of the training design process, formative and summative evaluation plans are used to great effect. Formative evaluations identify changes that need to be made to facilitate transfer of training, before it is administered. This often involves pilot-testing the training with SMEs, managers, and employees who may attend the program (Noe, 2009). “Summative evaluations collect outcomes that measure what was trained. “Planning for summative evaluation involves choosing the evaluation design and selecting the outcomes that will be measured to determine if learning and transfer of training have occurred (Noe 2009).” The sixth step focuses on selecting the delivery method for training based on the learning objectives. This can include lecture, distance learning, CDs, DVDs, video, mobile device instruction, or assessments that measure employee behavior, communication style, or competencies (Noe, 2009). A combination of methods is often used to increase training effectiveness. The seventh and final step, monitoring and evaluating the program, evaluates the program and makes changes, or edits previous steps in the process, to improve the training to that “learning, behavior, change, and the other learning objectives are obtained (Noe, 2010, p.8).” The Traits of a Successful T&D Department

There are a myriad of organizational examples and books that have been used to successfully implement efficient and relevant T&D programs all over the world. However, the question arises, “What makes some organizations stand out above the rest?” One particular company that is consistently cited as having one of the best training programs in the world is the Disney Corporation. Disney was one of the first pioneers of the corporate
university model in the 1960s. In that time, Disney University has grown into a highly regarded institution that produces engaged and customer-centric employee year after year. Doug Lipp, is the former head of the training team at Disney’s corporate headquarters to all training departments and author of Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer Centric Employees, identified four circumstances, or core values, that have contributed to the success of Disney’s’ training program. They are: (1) Innovation, (2) Organizational support, (3) Education, and (4) Entertain. Arguably, none of these circumstances are unique or unknown to T&D professionals. What makes them special is how they pervade Disney; “They are the essential DNA of the whole company (Lipp, 2013). Van France, a long time executive at Disney that laid the groundwork for Disney University. He believed that innovation and challenging entrenched organizational patters and beliefs is an essential characteristic of T&D programs. He once wrote: “Budgets, schedules, reports, more reports, union negotiations, training programs, meetings …more meetings, handbooks, “cover-your-ass” memos and the endless things which take up your time are of no value unless they end up producing A HAPPY GUEST (Lipp, 2013).” “Organizational support” is another core value that is characteristic of superior training programs. “Leadership must be intimately involved and has to set the tone (Lipp, 2013).” T&D departments that neglect to garner support, trust, and involvement from top decision-makers are doomed to mediocrity. Probably the highest regarded circumstance in this list is “Education.” Disney University was successful not because of the resources they allocated to training, but because they consistently presented “tailored, relevant training and educational experiences (Lipp, 2013).” The final characteristic identified is “Entertain.” For all intensive purposes entertain and education go hand-in-hand. A core principle at Disney University is that “it is possible to have both laughter and learning at once with the right approach (Lipp, 2013).” Entertainment as a training strategy is a powerful tool that can increase employee engagement and enhance transfer of training. In the end the success of a T&D department is lies in its ability to accomplish the following: (1) secure a seat at the leadership table, (2) become a valued part of the organizational culture, (3) move beyond short-sighted training
initiatives, and (4) be creative and willing to think “outside-the-box.”

Arneson, J., Rothwell, W., & Naughton, J. (2013). Training and development competencies
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