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Personal Development Plan

I just started a new job recently as an instructional system specialist for the Defense Audit Agency. I am now starting over again even though I have experience developing courses under my belt. I am in with a new team of co-workers in a new environment and culture that I am still trying to adapt too. It is always helpful when your employer has training and development programs in place to help you become a productive member of the team and adapt to the culture. The following are four types of development programs that would help me attain my goals and that I would advocate to my employer to provide:

  1. Having an education program in place can be helpful to attaining future skills and staying up with trends within the field of instructional development. New tools and procedures are always coming out and it would be beneficial to attain these skills though formal training at a school house or through some consultant. It would be also beneficial to attend seminars and professional conferences since they always provide all sorts of training, have vendors showing the latest tools and it is one of the best ways to meet as well as network with other professionals in the field.
  2. Performance appraisal is the process of measuring employee’s performance. It includes a clear understanding of the difference between current performance and expected performance, identifying causes of the performance discrepancy, and developing action plans to improve performance (Noe, 2013). Implementing a 360-degree feedback system would be beneficial to my development because I not only would be getting input of my work performance from my supervisor but also from peers, customers and other managers. This is a more realistic feedback since my immediate supervisor is not the person I directly work with or impact when performing my job duties. The customers, peers and other managers are the ones who are directly impacted by my task performance and are the ones who have can see firsthand if I performed as expected. Their feedback would be most important since they are the main customers of my work. They are the ones that either receives the course material I develop or are the ones who helped me develop it.
  3. Noe (2013) states a mentor is an experienced senior employee who helps developed a less experienced employee. My next program that I wish to have to help with my development is to have a mentor assigned to me through an organizational mentor program. What better way to learn advance job skills and ways to get promoted then by having someone who has done it guide you on what you must do to further your career. A mentor can also help me when I am stuck with job tasks and be there to hear me vent when things go wrong and provide ways to overcome these things.
  4. Job rotation gives employees a series of job assignments in various functional areas of the company or movement among jobs in a single functional area or department (Noe, 2013). Having a job rotation program at work would help expose me to other areas within the organization that I might be interested to pursue and can provide me a view of how these duties fit into the overall picture of developing and supporting the courses we develop for our instructors and students.

Reference

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee Training and Development (6th ed.). NY, NY: McGraw Hill.

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Posted by on October 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Employee Development Presentation

Click on the highlighted link to access the presentation:  Employee Development

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

High-Tech Training

Advances in technology such as social media or computer based training have made it easier to provide training any time and any place at the convenience of the learner. It also gives learners more control of their training. It allows them to progress at their own pace as well as access information on as needed bases. For example, if you’re stuck on how to do something in Excel, you can immediately go to the internet and look up and learn how to do it. This is good news for businesses and organization since training is key in developing their employees. According to Noe (2013), for training to help a company gain a competitive advantage it needs to support the business goals and be delivered as needed to geographically dispersed employees. This is where technology can bridge the gap and allow organizations to provide any training to their employees wherever they may be. I will review five technologies and explain how they can impact how people learn and how they can be used for training.

elearningThe first technology that has increasingly grown is e-learning. Noe (2013) defines e-learning as training that is delivered using a computer through the internet or web. There two major types of e-learning and they are synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous e-learning allows trainees to learn online in real-time through chat and videoconferencing. This allows trainees to feel like they are in a classroom regardless of where they are located and they can interact live with students and their instructor. Asynchronous e-learning allows trainees to learn at their own pace and time since it is not in real-time. Training is delivered through a website, email and message boards. Trainees communicate with other students and instructor by posting messages on an online forum. The impact that this has on organizations is that they can use e-learning to save money on travel cost and provide training to all their employees regardless of where they are located. They have a choice of using synchronous e-learning to deliver live training through videoconferencing or asynchronous e-learning which gives their employees flexibility of taking the training at their own pace as well as ensures training is delivered to employees within different time zones.

Mobile LearningMobile learning is the next method that is being used to deliver training. Noe (2013) defines mobile learning as training that is delivered through handheld devices such as smartphones or tablet computers. Smartphones and tablets have become as powerful as a desktop computer and they can just as easily be used to access any computer based training and social media making it possible for learners on the go to receive training. There are also lots of apps available that provide training and just as easily an organization can have an app develop with specific training geared to their business such as one that covers policies and processes. The impact to organizations is that they can save money on equipment such as computers and on travel cost since now all their employees can access training through their phones. Imagine an employee out on the field and they are stuck doing a task. Now they don’t have to leave the location to get the info to complete the task because they can easily pick up their phone and have the information sent to them from the organizations home office or they can look it up on their phone using search engine on the internet or download an app.

BlogThe technology that I will discuss next is the blog. According to Noe (2013), a blog is a webpage where an author posts entries and readers can comment. A blog is like an electronic diary where a person can post daily entries that will be dated and kept on a webpage. A person can post anything on a blog and what makes them powerful for training is that a person or an organization can use a blog to inform workers on different topics related to work. The readers can also provide inputs allowing them to provide updates and share their experiences on job related tasks also. The impact to organization is that they have another available tool to train their employees wherever they may be located. It also can provide a place that employees can share their knowledge on different topics that can be bought up on the blog.

Second LifeThe fourth technology that will have a bigger impact on training in the future will be virtual worlds. Noe (2013) defines virtual worlds as computer-based simulated online three-dimensional representation of the real world where learning programs or experiences can be hosted. Virtual worlds such as Second Life allow learners to develop a computer based character or avatar that they can use to interact in a virtual environment. The learner through the use of an avatar can attend class in the virtual world and communicate with other trainees or instructor in a virtual classroom. Almost anything that’s in the real world can be replicated in the virtual world so this allows learners to practice work tasks or classroom tasks in a virtual environment and receive feedback immediately on any errors that they may have made. The implication of this tool for organizations is that they can actually build a copy of all the tasks within the organization in a virtual world and train employees how to do them their without actually wasting real resources due to errors. In the virtual world an employee can practice doing the task as many times as necessary until they master it. This is especially useful for training employees on dangerous tasks that might be part of their job.

YouTubeThe final technology that I want to discuss is YouTube. YouTube is a free video sharing website and social network (Woda, 2014). What makes YouTube a good media for learning is that anyone can make a video explaining how to do something or teach you a particular topic. YouTube currently has tons of video that can assist you on almost any topic. The implication of this for organizations is that they have another free resource they can use to train their employees wherever they might be located. Organizations can post training videos on job related tasks, policies and process and share it with their employees through YouTube. The videos can be private with only employees having access which ensure company processes are kept from the competition. Employees can also use YouTube as a resource to look up videos showing them how to do anything they might be stuck on that is not available through the organization databases or resources.

References

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee Training and Development (6th ed.). NY, NY: McGraw Hill.

Woda, T. (2014). Everything You Need to Know About YouTube. Retrieved October 9, 2014, from http://resources.uknowkids.com/blog/what-is-youtube

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Planning for a Needs Assessment

This week’s blog assignment was to research a company and develop a plan on how would a conduct a needs assessment on the chosen organization. I decided to do my research and needs assessment plan on Southwest Airlines which has been one of the most profitable airlines the last 40 years according to Forbes (Gallo, 2014). A need assessment is a process used to determine whether training is necessary and is the first step in the instructional design process (Noe, 2013). The needs assessment consists of three types of analysis which are organizational, person, and task analysis. Organizational analysis involves determining the appropriateness of training given the company’s business strategy, its resources available for training, and support by managers and peers for training activities. Person analysis focuses on identifying whether training is the solution, who needs the training, and whether employees have the skills, attitudes, and beliefs needed to ensure they master the training program. Task analysis identifies the important task, knowledge, skills, and behaviors that need to be emphasized in training for employees to complete their tasks (Noe, 2013). To begin a needs assessment it helps to gain some familiarity with the organization.

The mission of Southwest airline is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit. Their main purpose is to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low cost air travel. Their vision is to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline (Gallo, 2014). These three items make up the building blocks of Southwest’s business strategy. This ties in with their goals for their employees which is to provide a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. They encourage creativity and innovation that will improve their airlines. Part of what makes Southwest Airlines successful is keeping operations simple. They maintain one type of aircraft which is the Boeing 737 which keeps training and equipment cost down since it is only focuses on one type of aircraft. They don’t charge their customers for luggage and they don’t assign seats. Their entire operation is run by about 45,000 employees throughout the southwest.

When conducting a needs assessment it is important to include different stakeholders since they are the subject matter experts familiar with the organization that can provide the information required for each analysis. Noe (2013) state that stakeholders such as upper managers, mid-level managers, trainers, and job incumbents should be included in the analysis since it provides a view from different levels with the organization. The following are sample questions that I would ask the stakeholders at Southwest Airlines for each analysis.

Questions for Organizational Analysis

Upper Mgmt – What is your business strategy? What capabilities will be required to fulfill the business strategy? What competencies does the company require in order for it to succeed? What and how much resources are dedicated to training?
Mid-level Mgmt – Do you have money budgeted toward training? How much are you willing to spend on training? Do you have and maintain quality/statistical reports on productivity? How do you see training helping your work centers requirements? Are you willing to provide employees the time to seek training? Will you support and encourage employees to apply what they learned on the job?
Trainers – Does management support training? Are resources available to provide effective training? Are employees given the time and support to be trained?

Questions for Person Analysis

Upper Mgmt – Does the organization HR department have a plan to ensure that all jobs are assigned with the proper personnel? Does the organization lack any skilled employees in any of their departments? Overall are the employees meeting all company standards and goals?
Mid-level Mgmt – Do you have the right people for the tasks in your work center? What training or skills are your employees lacking? What are you satisfied with the employee’s performance level and is it meeting the organizational standard and goals? What is the background and make-up of your employees?
Trainers – Are all employees going through your training able to successfully complete the course? Are you aware of any performance problems or trends within the organization? Do you have statistical data showing if the training provided transferred to the job?

Questions for Task Analysis

Upper Mgmt – Do you have the employees to accomplish all the tasks required to accomplish the mission and goals of the organization? Are all the resources provided and available to accomplish the required tasks within the organization? Are there any new requirements that will be coming out in the near future?
Mid-level Mgmt – What are the most critical task required for the success of the work center? What knowledge, skills, and abilities are required by employees to complete the tasks in the work center? Does the work center have all the resources to accomplish all its tasks?
Trainers – What tasks are the most critical to accomplishing the goals of the organization? Are all resources available to accomplish these tasks? Do employees currently have all the skills required to complete the tasks assigned? Are the critical tasks the main focus within the training program? Does training on these tasks increase performance?

To do a thorough need assessment it helps to look at as many sources of information as possible besides just speaking to stakeholders. I would ask to look at Southwest Airlines safety reports and quality assurance assessment reports that are usually conducted by an independent agency within the organization since this will highlight any areas affecting performance that might be training related. I would look at policy and procedure regulations since they can tell you a little about how the company operates. I would also look at any training records or certifications that the employees of Southwest Airline might have to maintain.

There are several techniques available to conduct a needs assessment. Noe (2013) states that no single method is superior to the other and the using multiple methods usually gather the best results. The techniques I would use at Southwest Airline are observation, interviews, and documentation. Observation would let me see first hands the employees performing on the job and give me an idea on the processes used to accomplish the work center tasks. I would then follow up with interviews since now I can ask further questions on the items I observed and unlike questionnaires I have the person in front of me which makes it simple to read their body language to ensure they are being honest with their replies. Lastly I would go through several documents such as training records, technical manuals, and policies to name a few that would give me further details on how the organization is performing. All these techniques would give me firsthand look at the employees and their environment to help determine if training will be a good solution to any performance problem or if another approach would work better which is the why needs assessment is important since it addresses this and ensures money is spent on the right solution to correct whatever issue is stopping the organization from fulfilling its mission and goals.

References

Gallo, C. (2014). Southwest Airlines Motivates its Employees With a Purpose Bigger Than a Paycheck. Retrieved on September 11, 2014 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2014/01/21/southwest-airlines-motivates-its-employees-with-a-purpose-bigger-than-a-paycheck/
Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee Training and Development (6th ed.). NY, NY: McGraw

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Elevator Speech- Truth about Training

What would you say if I could tell you the key ingredient on how to keep your organization relevant, reduce waste, and increase productivity and profit? Before I let you in on this secret do you know that today’s successful organizations are competing and increasing their presence on a global market, have become more technological savvy and are able to adapt to an ever changing environment both internally and externally. You might be asking yourself; how are they doing this? Well the key to any organization success begins with its people. If you invest in your people then your return on investment will be a successful profitable organization. Let’s go back to the original question, what is the ingredient needed to keep your organization relevant, reduce waste, and increase productivity and profit. This ingredient is also that stock you need to invest in and that is training and development. With training and development you can provide your people the social and cross cultural competencies needed to compete in a global diverse market. You can provide them also with the skills and knowledge needed to operate and stay on top of the latest technology. You can also provide them with adaptive thinking skills needed to deal with change. These are just of the few critical skills that training and development can provide. A well trained workforce will increase productivity, reduce waste and increase profit ensuring your organization stays relevant in today’s global market. When you’re ready to invest in training and development give me a call and I can develop a training plan and portfolio for your organization. Here is my card and number.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Analyzing Scope Creep

Scope creep is the natural tendency of the client or project team member to try and improve the project’s output as the project progresses (Portney, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008). They usually do this by adding extra material or ideas to the project. Scope creep isn’t necessarily a bad thing but the problem that usually occurs is that it deviates the project from the initially agreed upon project plan which usually leads to affecting the project completion time and the cost of the project. One other thing that can occur with scope creep is that the person suggesting the new changes is so caught up with trying to put out the best product that they don’t realize that they are now pulling the project away from its objective and intended audience. This was the case in a project I was involved with in my old job.

Back in my old job, we were tasked to develop an aircraft technician course in Spanish that our instructors were going to teach to the air forces of our Latin American Allies. The course objective was to develop an aircraft technician course that was intended for an apprentice student entering this career field and the course was to cover only the basic aircraft systems and duties of a crew chief. The course was also supposed to be weapons systems neutral since our Latin American Allies all have different weapon systems within each of their countries. This project started off good and we had a SME assigned to us full time who was going to be one of the instructors for the course. Scope creep came into the picture when we were developing some of the course content with the SME. The SME began to add some advance topics to each of the aircraft system material because he felt it was important and that this would make the students as well as the course much better. The problem I had with this was that now we were going away from the objective of the course which was to design a course covering the basic aircraft systems geared to an apprentice student. The second issue I had was that some of the topics he added were weapon system specific which meant that it would not apply to all of our students since some of their countries don’t have that particular weapon system. I address the SME about this and he became upset. The SME went to his leadership and he got them to agree with his additions. We decided to setup a meeting with all the stake holders in order to vote on the SME’s proposal. At this meeting I told the stakeholders the same thing I told the SME which was that we were going away from the original objective by adding advance material. I showed them the extra time and cost it would take to add this material since we would have to change the system cut-outs that we were going to order as well as change all the visual aids for those particular systems to include the advance topic info and graphics. I also proposed that we can use all that advance material to develop an advance aircraft technician course that we could offer in the future. The stakeholders all agreed with my suggestions

This was one of my experiences with scope creep. Looking back I think I would have handled it the same way. There is no way of avoiding scope creep because you will always have someone making a suggestion or idea on how to improve the project and wanting to implement it. Our textbook recommends three great ideas to deal with scope creep and any changes to projects which are:

–          Develop a change order to document all change request

–          Require clients to approve all changes in writing

–          Update plans and schedules to reflect changes.

These three suggestions gives the project manager control over any change and most important you have signatures as proof that they agreed on the change after any warning they might have received on the affects the change might have to the project delivery date and cost.

 

Reference

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources

In this blog I took a look at two websites that can be useful when trying to figure out the time and cost it takes to develop a task within your project. This can be useful to assist you when creating the Gantt chart and resource allocation plan. Below are the two websites:

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/occupation-finder.htm
The link above takes you to the Occupational Outlook Handbook that is located on the US Department of Labor website. When the link opens up, you will be on the occupation finder page. This tool provides you data on 580 different occupations. Once you click on a specific occupation on the left hand side or you can enter an occupation on the top left corner where it says Search Handbook and it will take you to page giving you lots of information on that job. It provides information such as the work environment, education, training, and other qualifications, pay, the job outlook, and sources of additional information. This site is useful when developing a project budget since you can use it to get the annual salary and hourly rate on everyone that is involved on the project.

http://www.chapmanalliance.com/howlong/
This link provides some good information on how long it takes to create learning based on research and survey conducted by Chapman Alliance back on September 2010. The link shows the number of hours it takes to create one finished hour of learning as well as the cost. There is data on both instructor based training and on a basic through advanced e-learning type training. There is a detailed PowerPoint presentation with graphs and charts giving you times and cost for the both types of learning formats. This site can be used to get an idea on how long it takes to develop certain tasks within the different learning formats and it also gives you a cost for each task.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized