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With the economic crisis that has been incurring losses to many employers, many employees were unfortunately RIF’d (released from their employers as part of a ‘Reduction in Force’ exercise) and others faced bonus cuts or shortage of privileges. For a few, the crisis came with a new challenge of putting training on hold.
Let’s first draw the broad line that defines the difference between employee development and training. The BNET Business Dictionary outlines the definition of employee development versus training as per the below:
Employee Development: is the enhancement of the skills, knowledge, and experience of employees with the purpose of improving performance. Employee development, unlike personal development, is usually coordinated by the employing organization. It can use a variety of training methods, and is usually conducted on a planned basis, perhaps as a result of a performance appraisal.
Training: activities designed to facilitate the learning and development of new and existing skills, and to improve the performance of specific tasks or roles. Training may involve structured programs or more informal and interactive activities "such as group discussion or role playing which promote experiential learning. A wide variety of activities, including classroom-based courses, on-the-job training, and business or simulation games, are used for training. Audio-visual and multimedia aids such as videos and CD-ROMs may also be employed. Training may be provided by an internal training officer or department, or by external training organizations. The effectiveness of training can be maximized by conducting a training needs analysis beforehand and following up with evaluation of training. Training should result in individual learning and enhanced organizational performance.
The above definitions lead to a very important question: Does cutting cost by doing less or no training prevent employees from development? No!
Employee development is a responsibility shared between the employee and the employer. Unlike the common misconception that drives employees to assume that their development is the sole responsibility of their employer and wait years to be invited to go for training or attend a workshop. The employee should carry the responsibility of looking after their career by finding the proper tools that would enhance their skills and capabilities. So, what are other ways to be developed without attending training and incurring costs to my employer during times of crisis?
- Coaching and mentoring
- Demonstrated benefits of these approaches include improved quality and quantity of work; transfer of learning and, for employees, improved communication and problem-solving skills.
- Effective coaching and mentoring programs depend on the skills and personality of the mentor or coach, adequate time for coaching and mentoring sessions and established time-lines and goals.
- Employee promotion
- Promoting someone to a position of greater responsibility is a traditional way of rewarding good performance, developing employee skills and retaining valued employees.
- Effective promotion involves careful consideration of many details, including identifying gaps in skills and experience and providing support through training, coaching or mentoring.
- Job enrichment
- Job enrichment increases the employee’s authority or responsibility within their current position. Examples include committee work, special assignments or serving on cross-functional teams.
- This approach increases interest and motivation by allowing employees to try new skills, build new relationships and explore new areas of specialization.
- Job rotation and cross-training
- Job rotation moves an employee through one or more different positions. The rotation can last several hours, several months or even a year or two. Cross-training is a specific type of job rotation where an employee learns the skills of a different position.
- These approaches can effectively add diversity and interest, prepare individuals for promotion, rejuvenate work units and improve communication.
- Lateral moves
- In a lateral move, an employee moves to a different position with similar status, pay and responsibility. A lateral move may offer new challenges or encourage the development of different skills for an employee who may not necessarily want increased responsibility.
- This approach increases flexibility and communication among work units and, in small businesses with few opportunities for advancement, helps to retain valuable employees who might otherwise leave.
- Job aids
- Job aids include checklists; tip sheets, wallet cards, posters, pictures, code lists, flow charts and diagrams—anything that offers on-the-spot practical help or reminders. Job aids can reduce the amount of information employees need to recall by providing easily accessible facts.
- Well-designed job aids are concise, written in plain language and make good use of white space and graphics for easy interpretation.
There is a variety of helpful tools that can be utilized and yield successful results. It is all on you! If you are committed to your development and your career advancement, you will find ways that fit within the current economic situation and where your employer stands from this situation. Always remember that development goes way beyond attending training.
Human Resources Development Specialist