Thursday, March 8, 2012

EIDT 6501 Training and Development: Planning For a Needs Assessment (Week 2)

Greetings Classmates!

This week our assignment is to assume that you have been asked to perform a needs assessment for one of the following companies: Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, Cisco Systems, Men’s Wearhouse, Intel, Steelcase, Nokia and spend some time exploring it online. Try to get a sense of the organization’s products and/or services, consumers, management philosophy, and strategic objectives. 

Based on this, how might you approach the needs assessment? Specifically:
                What stakeholders would you want to make sure to get buy-in from?
                What questions would you ask (and to whom would you address them) during the organizational, person, and task analysis phases?
                What documents or records might you ask to see?
                What techniques would you employ (see Table 3.2 on page 108 of the Noe text), and why?

I selected Southwest Airlines for this assignment, an airline that I love to fly! The mission of Southwest is “dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit” (

Another interesting fact, that says a lot about the organization is its mission and view of its employees. CEO Gary Kelly states, “our people are our single greatest strength and most enduring longterm competitive advantage” ( For this reason, the Chairman of the Board, President & Chief Executive Officer, Gary Kelly and the Southwest employees are major stakeholders in a needs assessment. Other stakeholders would depend on the hypothesized problem that needs to be solved and those directly involved.  Additional stakeholders may include other Southwest officers as outlined in the Southwest Organization Chart

An organizational analysis “involves identifying whether training supports the company’s strategic direction; whether managers, peers, and employees support training activity; and what training resources are available” (Noe, 2010, p. 110). Based on Southwest’s mission to its customers and employees, important questions to ask during an organizational analysis are “how might the training content affect our employees’ relationship with our customers” as well as, “will employees perceive that training program as an opportunity? Reward? Punishment? Waste of time?” (Noe, 2010, p. 111)

“Task analysis results in a description of work activities, including tasks performed by the employee and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to complete the tasks” (Noe, 2010, p. 123).  A task analysis has 4 steps:

  1. Select the job(s) to be analyzed
  2. Develop a preliminary list of tasks performed
  3. Validate/Confirm the preliminary list of tasks
  4. Identify the knowledge, skills, or abilities necessary to successfully perform each task (Noe, 2010, p. 124-125). 

The person analysis “helps to identify employees who need training, that is, whether employees’ current performance or expected performance indicates a need for training” (Noe, 2010, p. 113).  The person analysis can also assist in gauging the targets readiness for training, which can be beneficial when designing the instruction and is a natural transition after the task analysis has been completed.

The techniques that I would employ rely heavily on the task and person analysis. Documentation is an excellent place to begin, as it’s a great source of information, its low cost, and does not use a lot of resources.  Observation can be a great way to gather information on day-to-day activities and procedures while not interrupting or disturbing the work of others. Questionnaires are effective in collecting anonymous information from a large number of people, which can easily and quickly be analyzed. Finally, I would use interviews and focus groups as a needs assessment technique. Both  allow free dialogue which can assist in delving further into problems, issues, and other employee concerns.

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Friday, March 2, 2012

EIDT 6501 Training and Development: The Truth About Training (Week 1)

Good Evening Everyone,

This week our topic was to:
Imagine you have just 2 minutes or so to give someone an "elevator speech" regarding the "truth" about training. This person does not believe that training is important, complicated, or even necessary. What might you say to this individual to convince him or her otherwise? What key insights could you impart that this person likely would not have known and would find surprising and/or interesting?

 Utilizing the insights you gained this week, draft a hypothetical "elevator speech" that, when spoken, lasts for approximately 90 seconds. 

Some would say training is a necessary evil, while others I'm sure would drop the term "necessary" altogether. Hopefully my brief argument is enough to make someone at least pause and think of the complexity of designing training and some of its benefits.

Below is a copy of the transcript (give or take a few lines) and you can listen to the audio clip via SoundCloud by clicking the link below

The role of training in companies has really changed over recent years. Traditionally
most people think of training as a boring and grueling event they are required to attend in order to learn things they don’t even need, in order to do their job.  You know exactly what I’m talking about- when training is over and you think to yourself “what a waste of time” and you think of all the things you could have gotten accomplished in that time if you were at your desk. 

What many people don’t realize is just how complicated it is to create training, specifically learner-centered and performance based training.  People don’t know that effective training can assist businesses in meeting specific needs and challenges, and good training can even improve employee performance, confidence, and commitment to ones job and company.

Did you know there’s a difference between training, instructing, and educating? A trainer has to consider the information that is to be conveyed, the best way to convey it, create a platform in which everyone will learn, understand, and gain knowledge- all while taking our learning styles and other factors into consideration?  Talk about stressful and complicated and unappreciated!

Training is an important part of business acumen as the survival of a business is dependent on the quality of employee talent. Businesses have to educate their personnel to ensure business goals are met and they experience continued growth and success.

Though most people dislike training, employees want to actually do their job to the best of their abilities. In fact 33% stated they would like proper training for new duties and responsibilities and 45% of employees stated they wanted the opportunity to learn and develop their skills.

Training benefits everyone when it’s done correctly. It’s a complex process and a lot more goes into it then people may think 

Bradley, A. (2010). Shifting away from an employer’s market. Training and Development, 64(7), 16–17

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Stolovitch, H. “The Truth About Training”. [Video]. Walden University