In this Section:
Based on adult learning principles, here is a checklist for a successful employee learning experience:
The goals of the employee training or development program are clear
The employees are involved in determining the knowledge, skills and abilities to be learned
The employees are participating in activities during the learning process
The work experiences and knowledge that employees bring to each learning situation are used as a resource
A practical and problem-centered approach based on real examples is used
New material is connected to the employee's past learning and work experience
The employees are given an opportunity to reinforce what they learn by practicing
The learning environment is informal, safe and supportive
The individual employee is shown respect
The learning opportunity promotes positive self-esteem
Learning happens all the time whether or not you are fully aware of it. Are you a person who forgets to save your work on your computer on a regular basis? If a power failure occurs and you loose some data, do you learn anything? If you say to yourself, "I must remember to save more often", you have done some learning. This type of learning is called incidental learning; you have learned without really thinking about it or meaning to. On the other hand, intentional learning happens when you engage in activities with an attitude of "what can I learn from this?" Employee development requires you to approach everyday activity with the intention of learning from what is going on around you.
Employee training is the responsibility of the organization. Employee development is a shared responsibility of management and the individual employee. The responsibility of management is to provide the right resources and an environment that supports the growth and development needs of the individual employee.
For employee training and development to be successful, management should:
Provide a well-crafted job description - it is the foundation upon which employee training and development activities are built
Provide training required by employees to meet the basic competencies for the job. This is usually the supervisor's responsibility
Develop a good understanding of the knowledge, skills and abilities that the organization will need in the future. What are the long-term goals of the organization and what are the implications of these goals for employee development? Share this knowledge with staff
Look for learning opportunities in every-day activity. Was there an incident with a client that everyone could learn from? Is there a new government report with implications for the organization?
Explain the employee development process and encourage staff to develop individual development plans
Support staff when they identify learning activities that make them an asset to your organization both now and in the future
For employee development to be a success, the individual employee should:
Look for learning opportunities in everyday activities
Identify goals and activities for development and prepare an individual development plan
An individual development plan is prepared by the employee in partnership with his or her supervisor. The plan is based upon the needs of the employee, the position and the organization. A good individual development plan will be interesting, achievable, practical and realistic. It is implemented with the approval of the employee's supervisor.
Step 1 - Self-assessment
The employee identifies his or her skills, abilities, values, strengths and weaknesses. To conduct a self-assessment:
Use the many self-assessment tools found on the internet
Compare your knowledge, skills and abilities to those identified in your job description
Review performance assessments (performance assessments are often used as the starting place for developing individual development plans)
Ask for feedback from your supervisor
Step 2 - Assess your current position and your work environment
The employee does an assessment of the requirement of his or her position at the present time and how the requirements of the position and/or organization may change. To conduct a position assessment:
Identify the job requirements and performance expectations of your current position
Identify the knowledge, skills and abilities that will enhance your ability to perform your current job
Identify and assess the impact on your position of changes taking place in the work environment such as changes in clients, programs, services and technology.
What goals do you want to achieve in your career?
Which of these development goals are mutually beneficial to you and your organization?
Write what you would like to achieve as goals. Select two or three goals to work on at a time. Set a time frame for accomplishing your goals.
Step 3 - Identify development activities
Identify the best ways to achieve your development goals.
What methods will you use?
What resources will be required?
Step 4 - Put your plan in action
Once you have prepared a draft of your individual development plan:
Review your plan with your supervisor for his or her input and approval
Start working on your plan
Evaluate your progress and make adjustments as necessary
Celebrate your successes
Employee training and development needs to suit your organization's context, job descriptions, employment contracts and collective agreements. When selecting employee training and development methods, it is important to remember the learning process. There are many ways to provide employees with learning opportunities, including:
Committees are part of every-day activity in any organization. They can also be effective learning tools, with the right focus
Committees made up of staff from different areas of your organization will enhance learning by allowing members to see issues from different perspectives
Set aside part of the committee's work time to discuss issues or trends that may impact on the organization in the future
Conferences and forums
Employees can attend conferences that focus on topics of relevance to their position and the organization
Upon their return, have the employee make a presentation to other staff as a way of enhancing the individual's learning experience and as a way of enhancing the organization. (Some conferences and forums may be considered off-the-job learning)
Critical incident notes
Day-to-day activities are always a source of learning opportunities
Select the best of these opportunities and write up critical incident notes for staff to learn from. Maybe a client complaint was handled effectively. Write a brief summary of the incident and identify the employee's actions that led to a successful resolution
Share the notes with the employee involved and with others as appropriate. If the situation was not handled well, again write a brief description of the situation identifying areas for improvement
Discuss the critical incident notes with the employee and identify the areas for the employee to improve upon and how you will assist the employee in doing this
- If your organization has staff at more than one site, provide employees with an opportunity to visit the other sites
- This helps your employees gain a better understanding of the full range of programs and clients that your organization serves
- Field trips to other organizations serving a similar clientele or with similar positions can also provide a valuable learning experience
- Give staff going on field trips a list of questions to answer or a list of things to look for
- Follow up the field trip by having staff explain what they have learned and how they can apply that learning to your organization. (Fieldtrips can also be an off-the-job activity)
Tools can be given to employees to help them perform their jobs better. These tools include: manuals, checklists, phone lists, procedural guidelines, decision guidelines and so forth
Job aids are very useful for new employees, employees taking on new responsibilities and for activities that happen infrequently
Once an employee has mastered the requirements of his or her job and is performing satisfactorily, s/he may want greater challenges. Consider assigning new additional duties to the employee
Which duties to assign should be decided by the employee and her or his manager
Organizations with flat organizational structure are starting to give some managerial tasks to experienced staff as a way of keeping those staff challenged
On a temporary basis, employees can be given the opportunity to work in a different area of the organization
The employee keeps his or her existing job but fills in for or exchanges responsibilities with another employee
If an employee wants to learn what someone else in your organization does, your employee can follow that person and observe him or her at work
Usually the person doing the shadowing does not help with the work that is being done
Newspaper articles, government announcements and reports can be used as learning alerts
Prepare a brief covering page which could include a short summary and one or two key questions for your employees to consider. Then circulate the item
Include the item on the agenda of your next staff meeting for a brief discussion
Two employees agree to help each other learn different tasks. Both employees should have an area of expertise that the co-worker can benefit from
The employees take turns helping their co-worker master the knowledge or skill that they have to share
These assignments give the employee an opportunity to stretch past his or her current abilities. For example, a stretch assignment could require an employee to chair a meeting if the person has never done this before
To ensure that chairing the meeting is a good learning experience, the manager should take time after the meeting to discuss with the employee what went well and what could have been improved
Mentoring is similar to coaching. Mentoring occurs when a senior, experienced manager provides guidance and advice to a junior employee
The two people involved have usually developed a working relationship based on shared interest and values
Courses, seminars, workshops
Courses offered by colleges or universities
Reading groups (also called learning circles or reading circles)
Self-paced independent reading, e-learning courses and volunteer work all provide learning opportunities. The employee engages in the learning activity by choice and at his or her desired pace of learning
Information and course offered by the internet are called e-learning. A variety of learning opportunities can be accessed this way. The choices range from formal training offered by colleges and universities, to an informal walk-through of a given subject, to reading reports on a topic. E-learning can take place on or off the job
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