1. (PC 1.1) Why should organisations spend valuable time and resources to support workplace learning opportunities?
The heart of an organization is in its people. Even the most advanced machinery and technology cannot bring a company to reach its goals and objectives without the human machinery behind it. Smart business leaders know where to invest their resources. Money spent to develop the employees in a way that makes learning opportunities emerge is money that is spent well. In the same light, Griffith (2009, p.12) claims that time, which is a most valued resource in any organization, is wisely invested in the growth of the company’s people.
Another reason for companies’ putting a great deal of time and financial resources on supporting workplace learning opportunities is stated in a report of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (2003, p.1), where the phenomenon of globalization has affected the general nature and demographic of the economy, which subsequently affects the nature of the workplace as well. The employees of this century feel the demand to improve their competencies to go with the continuous development of society.
When the members of an organization are well-developed, have a high level of morale, and have a highly satisfactory workplace environment, then the overall productivity of the company gets a boost as well. Citing Griffith (2009, p.12) once more, he exposed that stable employee performance in terms of work attendance and loyalty to the company leads to increase in productivity.
2. (PC 1.2) Briefly discuss the benefits of individual and team learning plans?
Individual and team learning plans can be most beneficial depending on the employees’ needs. Individual learning must be planned according to the specific needs of particular members of the organization. As Smith and Ragan (2005, p.72) explained, learners needs can be determined with the conduct of a Needs Assessment so that clear directions can be set and a well-aligned design can be planned. Team learning plans, on the other hand, are those that are intended to make working teams stronger and produce outcomes more efficiently. Learning plans for teams are designed in such a way that the goals and objectives of the organization are met.
Both types of learning plans are beneficial because the strength of the organization lies on the smaller teams that make up the different departments of the company and likewise, the heart of each team is the individual. Thus, individual and team learning plans make sure that the company is able to focus not on the procurement of technological advancement but on developing the greatest asset of the company, and that is the manpower resource.
3. (PC 1.3) Comment on the following statement. “Develop strategies to ensure learning plans reflect the diversity of needs.”
Needs are as diverse as individuals are. As the old adage goes: “Different strokes for different folks.” In planning and designing any training program or learning opportunity for the members of the organization, it is necessary to take into account the reality that individuals are different learners. They have different learning needs, different learning levels and capacity, and different learning styles. Griffith (2009, p.44) gives us a listing of the individuals’ aspects that have to be considered. The list includes the demographics of the learners, the level and capacity of their literacy skills, their personal socio-economic background, their previous academic training, and definitely an important factor to consider is the extent of the employees’ work experience.
An individual’s any form of disability must also be considered and doing so is a manifestation of respect for differences and promotion of human dignity. Laws all over the globe had been established precisely to give deference to persons with disability because they are as much human as the rest of “normal” humanity and facilitating their access to their workplace is one of the most humane things that an organization can do.
4. (PC 1.4) Comment on the following statement. “Individuals and teams should be encouraged access to, and participation in learning opportunities.” Why?
The importance of learning opportunities cannot be emphasised enough because of all the proven benefits of it in organizations of all types. To be able to survive the business competition in today’s society, organizations have to take premium in the making learning opportunities accessible and appealing to the individual members and teams. As Thompson (2010, p.1) claims, the strength of a workforce depends on how engaged the employees are in the company so that their sense of ownership will push them to work not only for their personal compensation but for the benefit of the entire organization.
Part of the providing learning opportunities is to ensure their accessibility and appeal to the employees so that they are encouraged to participate in the upgrading activities. Forcing them to take advantage of these opportunities will not do any better. Willingness and openness are two employee characteristics that would determine success of these learning opportunities. (Huys, De Rick & Vandenbrande 2005, p.3).
5. (PC 1.5) Discuss the role of the training consultants and specialists in a workplace learning environment.
Training consultants and specialists have an important role in establishing a learning environment in the workplace. In a usual case, training consultants are those who help the organization by providing their expertise in training methodologies, strategies, and establishment of instructional designs (Biggs & Tang 2007, p.57). Specialists are those experts who help the organization by supplying the content of their training plans.
In the Consulting and Organizational Development blog that can be fully viewed at http://managementhelp.org/blogs/consulting-skills/2010/04/19/what-should-be-primary-goals-of-consultants/, Carter McNamara (2010, par.3) cited Peter Block to explain that a training consultant’s primary goal is to provide smooth working relationship throughout the process of developing the workplace learning environment. This statement supports the idea that training consultants provide organizations with strategies that help establish the workplace learning environment. On the other hand, training specialists are considered an authority in their particular field of knowledge and focuses on transferring the content of their expertise. These two training experts therefore play a great role in establishing a healthy learning environment in the workplace.
1. (PC 2.1) Briefly research and discuss workplace learning culture.
Workplace learning culture was defined by Roe-Shaw (2004, p.4) specifically as “the formal acquisition of skills and knowledge in the workplace”. Broadly speaking however, learning culture is the atmosphere that the workplace has established within the physical boundaries of the company and within the members of the organization. When we speak of culture, it is something that is naturally present in the setup of the organization. Workplace learning culture is something that every organization strives to establish because it is the pulse of the company. With this culture in place, the company is assured of a healthy workplace environment where the welfare of the employees is taken care of, allowing them to go beyond their basic human needs.
2. (PC 2.2) Discuss coaching and mentoring for the development of workplace knowledge, skills and attitudes.
These two concepts have a rather thin line to differentiate them. They have been used interchangeably in many occasions and in different contexts. However, the common delineation between the two concepts is that coaching pertains more to leading another person in terms of knowledge and skills; whereas mentoring pertains more to leading another person with attitude as the additional dimension.
Dr. Starcewich (2009, par.2) gives us more specific differences between the two concepts. He has established that coaching is more task-related whereas mentoring is more life-oriented. A coach is after good performance whereas a mentor is after the individual as a person in entirety. A coach has a specific agenda to follow while a mentor is concerned more about facilitating for the mentee. A person becomes a coach by virtue of the position given him whereas someone becomes a mentor because of his perceived value. A mentor therefore has more influence in the life of another than a coach does.
3. (PC 2.3) How should team members assess their own competencies, and identify their own learning and development needs?
In any learning endeavour, a key characteristic for its success is having a learner who is proactive, one who takes the initiative to identify his learning and development needs. There are many ways for the proactive learner to assess his competencies so that he himself can plot his learning track. One of the surest ways that a team member can keep track of his professional growth is to determine his goals, which can be pegged on the team’s goals and his job description or expectations. As Zilde (n.d.) states, the individual learner must take the challenge to learn every day and take charge of his own professional development.
Another way for him to identify his learning needs is to do some kind of benchmarking with his team members. To benchmark is to assess your own competencies with a standard or an exemplar. This kind of comparison must not be in the personal level because doing so will run some risk of lowering the standard of the team. As the Management Analysis and Development (2012) puts it, benchmarking with other team members must be done in such a way that the team’s standard expected competencies from the members remain to be the measure
4. (PC 2.4) Why should individuals share the benefits of their learning?
Biggs and Tang (2007, p.261) explained in their widely-spread literature on outcomes-based education that the true test of learning is when the learner is able to pass on his newly acquired knowledge and skills. This then defines the reason for sharing one’s learning. As an old adage says, anything good must not be hidden under the rug.
An individual team member who acquires and appreciates a new learning must share this with his team members with the intention of helping the entire team and contributing to its overall improvement. Griffith (2009, p.78) discussed the benefits of this move of an individual team member. She explains that passing on to others what one has learned will even benefit him personally because it will reinforce his own learning, give him more opportunities to gain better insights and new perspectives, and can even boost his personal morale as a team member.
Giving feedback to one’s colleagues about his new learning will benefit the others as well. It will create a learning culture which any organization strives for. Sharing one’s learnings with colleagues can also be a wiser way of maximizing the returns of the company’s investment for the professional upgrade opportunity for an individual. The more team members to benefit from the investment, the better it would be for the company’s allotment of resources.
5. (PC 2.5) Discuss the pros and cons of the following statement. “Recognise workplace achievement by time and appropriate recognition, feedback and rewards.”
The issue of using rewards system in companies can be a delicate one because of the grey area of the extent to which it must be used. However, it is a fact that feedback and rewards mechanisms are part of the bigger motivation and incentive system that every organization must utilize. The challenge of every organization is to strike the balance and appropriateness of these incentives so that they serve their purpose as motivators and not be taken as the goal itself. Learning and professional improvement must remain to be the goal and the rewards must not overpower these primary goals.
In a nutshell, the main advantage of using rewards is to sustain the teams and team members’ motivation for professional growth and improve achievement rate (Griffith 2009, p.81). The disadvantage of such a system surfaces when it is not used appropriately and the end goal of learning is overshadowed by the desire to receive the incentives.
1. (PC 3.1) Briefly discuss the relationship between the philosophy of continuous improvement and assessing and monitoring team and individual performance.
An individual or an organization’s philosophy of continuous improvement is the driving force for voluntary assessment and monitoring of performance. Likewise, any form of assessment and evaluation leads to improvement. One who has this kind of philosophy will always be on the lookout for learning opportunities because he has made continuous improvement to be his goal. This kind of mentality will also result to not resisting any form of evaluation because he knows that the only way to be guided in one’s path towards growth is to know his current status. It is accepted that not everyone is comfortable with being assessed and monitored. It may be caused by the innate discomfort of being critiqued. But one who has a deep concern for the overall performance of the organization and for his personal improvement will take assessment and monitoring methods as the guiding posts that will keep him in the right track towards his goals (Griffith 2009, p.89).
2. (PC 3.2) Discuss how individuals and teams use feedback to improve future performance.
Individual and teams use feedback data by determining their current status vis-à-vis their overall goal. Any feedback whose data is not used for improvement of performance becomes useless and becomes a waste of the company’s resources, whether in terms of time, money or effort.
Any form of feedback must reveal the true picture of the performance status of the individual and the team as well. Feedback results must be handled carefully and be used as a professional meter stick. Results must show how far the individual or the team is from their identified goals (Griffith 2009, p.91). Once the current status is actually revealed, new steps towards improvement of future performance must be strategized. In doing so it is important that the team members are involved and contribute to plotting the deemed courses of action.
3. (PC 3.3) Why do training and development managers need to determine the effectiveness of their training courses / programs?
A key task of managers is to determine the effectiveness of the training courses and programs that they develop and offer to team members. This is crucial because it is a way to maximize the company’s resources that were put into the training programs. Another reason for the need to do an evaluation of programs is to find more opportunities that can make small yet significant changes in the operations of the company (Griffith 2009, p.98).
Besides, evaluation is one phase in the cycle of instructional designing which every training and development manager must oversee. Smith and Ragan (2005, p.350) have discussed lengthily the need for the evaluation phase because it is the phase that loops everything back into the beginning of the training cycle, which cannot be completed without any feedback mechanism put in place. Managers can gather feedback in different efficient ways depending on the unique context of the training program.
Determining the effectiveness of courses and programs can help specific organizations and team members to redirect their growth track should they see the need to do so. As had been discussed in the previous items, feedback results are used in a constructive way. Likewise, knowing the effectiveness of programs can help the training developers to make concrete strategies for their own improvement of training to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency.
4. (PC 3.4) Briefly discuss the importance of maintaining records and reports of training and relevant competencies for future planning.
Keeping records and making immediate reports do not always come as an easy task for many. But then, priority in getting these tasks done must be set as high. Keeping records and actually referring to them gives the manager an accurate data about that crucial aspect of the organization. We must remember that providing and supporting learning opportunities in organizations is one of the key goals of any manager. Statistical records therefore would help the manager to measure the pulse of the learning culture of his company. Records can serve as his starting point for doing a strategic SWOT analysis and planning. Records give the baseline data that any current and succeeding organizational leaders must work on. As we have learned from Griffith (2009, p.101), records that are studied can reveal any gaps in the way towards desired performance and achievements. Records can also be used to determine what other resources are needed to be acquired by the company to move closer to the set goals.
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