In the established schools of thought, a business is viewed as having three
primary assets – machine, capital, and man. Given the rapid technological
advances and globalization, it’s safe to say that the first two are not major
hurdles anymore; it has never been easier to raise capital for a venture, and automation has made machines more accessible. Manpower, however, still remains a challenge.
It’s not that finding manpower is a problem; in fact, thanks to the numerous online hiring platforms, reaching out to a large number of potential
employees is easier than ever. The challenge remains to cultivate human
capital so that a business can ride out times of change and uncertainty.
Training: An essential part of strategy
Organizations that understand the importance of training have it woven right into business strategy. This entails developing training programs for every stage of an employee’s career progression, such as managerial roles, skill enhancement, succession, etc.
Measuring Effectiveness of Learning and Training
While it’s imperative to have a strategy-driven learning and training program, effectiveness remains the acid test. Training managers should be able to show how the training modules map to the overall business strategy, and demonstrate that learning is reflected as direct improvement in quality.
Existing approaches to training and development
Traditionally, the process of learning and training has been approached in two ways:
Ÿ An external partner is located, from whom content for “relevant” training program is acquired and
Ÿ Stakeholders from within the organization attempt to identify learning gaps and develop a relevant
program. Both these approaches, however, fail to address the development gap experienced by an organization at different levels.
Assessments as Indispensable Feedback
It follows that the right approach to developing a learning and training program is an adaptive,
assessment-driven, in-house initiative. While it’s not possible to get it right the very first time, successive implementations and assessments reveal important gaps and point stakeholders in the right direction.
An assessment can be defined as the process of gathering information about the human resources in an organization, with the aim assessing their knowledge-level. However, in order to be truly effective, an assessment program must include feedback loops so that it can be improved. The following diagram shows this process:
Types of Assessment Outcomes
An assessment isn’t always conducted to gauge the extent of knowledge. The purpose of an assessment can be any of the following:
Ÿ Need-based: A need-based assessment is used as a complementary tool for other types of assessments, such as Gap Analysis. The purpose is to highlight knowledge areas that the employees don’t even know are important.
Ÿ Formative: Such assessments focus on recall effectiveness rather than testing a particular skill. A quiz is a good example of formative assessment, in which clues are provided to stimulate imagination and foster easier recall.
Ÿ Summative: Roughly speaking, certifications fall into this type of assessment, where the intent is to “sum up” the overall performance of an employee in order to declare whether he possesses a particular skill or not. Once verified, the employee receives a certification or badge validating his performance.
Ÿ Reactive: As the name implies, Reactive assessments tend to capture the reaction of an employee towards an assessment. Ideally, these are performed right at the end of an assessment, so that the correct reaction can be captured. Note that Reactive assessments need not be too intricate; even simple questions like “How did you feel about the exam?” with options of “Happy”, “Confused”, “Sad”, etc., will do.
Ÿ Diagnostic: The diagnostic assessment can be considered as a “meta assessment”; that is, it is
administered before the main assessment. Using the learning from a Diagnostic assessment,
employees can be segmented into appropriate groups and provided appropriate assessments.