Effective Training: Systems, Strategies and Practices

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9780132681605: Effective Training: Systems, Strategies and Practices

Recognizing the increasing competitive advantage of human resource competencies and renewed focus on organizational training, this practical manual integrates academic and practitioner information in an easy-to-read format, helping readers understand the process of developing human resources, and providing a thorough analysis of training as it relates to organizational objectives and strategies. Placing training activities in the context of organizational strategy, it emphasizes the conceptual and practical value of developing training programs that effectively meet strategic and tactical needs, with practical examples provided for both large and small organizations. Comprehensive topical coverage includes Strategic Planning, Training and OD; Learning, Motivation and Performance; Training Design; Management Development, and much more. For directors or managers of training or human resource development, new trainers, and consultants.

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About the Author:

Nick Blanchard completed his undergraduate studies in psychology at UCLA and his doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology at Wayne State University. He has served as head of the Management Department, Associate Dean, and is currently interim Dean and Professor of Management at Eastern Michigan University's College of Business. Among his accomplishments is the development, management, and continuous improvement of the on-site MBA program with corporate partner, Masco Corp. Nick's writings appear in both scholarly and applied publications. His earlier training text, Toward a More Organizationally Effective Training Strategy and Practice, was also published by Prentice Hall in 1986. He served as consultant and trainer to many organizations including Bethlehem Steel, Chrysler Corporation, Domtar Gypsum, Ford Motor Company, and various local and state government agencies.

Jim Thacker received an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Winnipeg in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and his doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from Wayne State University. He is currently a professor at the University of Windsor's Odette School of Business. His research has been published in both academic (Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Academy of Management Journal) and practitioner (Journal of Managerial Psychology The Human Resource Consultation: An International Journal) journals. He also coauthored the first Canadian edition of the text Managing Human Resources with Wayne Cascio, published in 1994. He has been a consultant and trainer in the private sector (Michigan Bell, Ford, Hiram Walker's, Navistar, H.J. Heinz) and public sector (Revenue Canada, CanAm Friendship Center). Prior to obtaining his doctorate, Jim worked for a gas utility as a tradesman and served as vice president of his local union (Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers) for a number of years. This firsthand experience as a tradesman and union official combined with his consulting and academic credentials provides Jim with a unique combination of perspectives and skills.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

We created the idea for the first edition of this book while fishing on a beautiful lake in northern Manitoba. Both of us were teaching a human resource development course and were unsatisfied with the texts available at the time. Our main concern was that we really needed two texts for the course, one providing the theory and scholarship surrounding the learning-teaching experience and one providing the application and "how to" part of the experience. In this second edition we continue to focus on these dual objectives. We added an example of a training program for a small company called Fabrics Inc. and spread it across the appropriate chapters as an illustration of how the concepts can be applied. The case is developed step-by-step from needs analysis through design and evaluation. For example, in Chapter 4, the needs analysis process used in Fabrics Inc. is detailed so the student sees what is actually done. Then it is picked up again at the end of the design chapter and again the student is brought through the process to the end of design. This approach gives the student a real understanding of the things that need to be done and how they are actually done.

We continue to differ from other training books in that we place training activities in the context of organizational strategy. Whether you are a student or a practitioner, this book will be of both conceptual and practical value for developing training programs that meet strategic and tactical needs. At the same time, an overarching model of the training process will guide you step-by-step through the training procedures, from initial needs analysis through the evaluation of training's effectiveness. As human resource competencies become a significant competitive advantage, the pace and intensity of organizational training increases dramatically. Human resource development or "performance improvement" departments must demonstrate that their programs enhance competencies that are of strategic value. As a company's strategies change, the types of management competencies and styles need to change as well, and human resource development is responsible for this alignment. We address these and related issues because we believe that effective training practices are determined by the organizational context in which they occur.

Unique Characteristics of This Book

This book differs from others on the same topic in a number of ways. Those in italics are new to this edition. For example, we:

  • Integrate training into the strategic planning process.
  • Show the important relationship between organizational development practitioners and trainers.
  • Provide an overarching model of the training process, with a more detailed model of each phase of the process, making it easy to see how each phase connects in reaching the training objectives.
  • Provide an understanding of training and its implementation as it relates to the small business.
  • Integrate learning and design theories into the development of training so the reader understands how theory helps design effective training.
  • Describe the step-by-step process of developing an actual training package as we move through each of the training process stages from needs analysis through the evaluation.
  • Provide numerous examples of actual training situations in companies to highlight aspects of the training process.
  • Provide a step-by-step process for developing learning objectives with many examples of good and bad objectives.
  • Include appendixes in some chapters for advanced learning opportunities.
  • Use a contingency approach, identifying alternative approaches to the training process and the associated strengths and limitations, rather than a "one best way."
  • Incorporate a macro and micro theory of design into the design of training.
  • Provide a comprehensive case in Chapter 2 that is applicable throughout the text and is often referred to in the remaining chapters.

Other aspects of the text that we believe are important are:

  • Learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter
  • Case at the beginning of each chapter, sometimes split with its follow-up at the end of the chapter
  • Questions, cases, and exercises at the end of each chapter
  • An instructor's manual with sample syllabi, answers to questions at the end of the chapters, and a "test bank" of questions
  • PowerPoint slides of all tables and figures

Learning objectives provide trainees with an understanding of what the training is trying to accomplish, and so they are an important part of the training process. Better learning is achieved if, at the beginning of training, people know where they should focus their attention. Therefore, at the beginning of each chapter we identify its learning objectives, stating what the reader should be capable of doing after completing the chapter. (The value of learning objectives and the characteristics of good objectives are discussed in depth in Chapter 5.)

Following the learning objectives is a case example to stimulate the reader to think about the issues that will be raised in the chapter. Throughout the chapter we refer back to the case to make specific points, asking the reader relevant questions about the case. Some of the cases are presented in totality at the beginning of the chapter; others are split into two parts, the first part stopping at a critical point, and the rest presented at the end of the chapter, so the reader can see how the issues were handled or what consequences resulted from the actions taken.

At the end of each chapter are discussion questions, cases, and exercises to enhance understanding. The instructor's manual provides more information about this material and offers additional ideas for teaching. It also includes sample course outlines and a test bank.

Another important difference in this book is the overarching model of the training process and its subprocesses. This model provides an understanding of the logical sequencing of training activities, from needs analysis to implementation and evaluation. The model demonstrates training as a system and how each of its processes are interconnected. Thus each phase of the training process (i.e., needs assessment, design, development, implementation, and evaluation) is covered in its own chapter. These chapters begin with a description of the types of input needed to complete that phase and the types of output produced. The bulk of each chapter provides a step-bystep description of how the input is transformed into the output. The output from one phase then becomes the input for the next.

For ease of reading we have not used the he/she convention when the context of the material requires a gender reference. Instead we alternate the use of gender throughout the text. We have received many compliments for this choice in the first edition and continue it here.

Most training books focus on large organizations that have access to many resources, ignoring the smaller companies with more limited resources. We address the training issues faced by smaller businesses in two ways. First, the contingency approach provides alternative activities and procedures, some of them compatible with limited resources. Throughout the book we address the applicability of various approaches to the smaller business. Second, many of the chapters include sections directed specifically at the small business. These sections provide possible alternatives and describe what some small businesses are actually doing in these areas. Unfortunately, the literature on small business training practices is relatively sparse. If you know of successful small business practices, we would love to hear about them and include them in subsequent editions.

We know that we failed to locate many of the excellent teaching techniques, exercises, and research applications that are available. Our goal is to improve this book continually so that it makes learning and teaching the joy that it can be. To that end we ask you to contact us with your thoughts, applications, exercises, and so on with the idea of sharing them. You can reach us at Nick.Blanchard@emich.edu or jwt@uwindsor.ca. Of course, any contributions will be acknowledged or cited as appropriate in future editions of this book.

Organization and Plan of the Book

We begin with an overview of training and a definition of key terms. The first chapter also discusses training's role in the organization, how training fits into the human resources (HR) function, and how the training function fits into the structure of large and small companies. Here we discuss training as a career. This chapter also presents the overarching training process model that is used to outline the organization of the book and provide an overview of the content of the remaining chapters. The chapter ends with a discussion of the key roles and competencies of human resources development (HRD) professionals.

Chapter 2 discusses strategic planning and the roles human resources and HRD play in this process. Here we show how input from the human resources function in general and the human resource development function in particular can influence strategic direction. We then proceed to discuss how these functions develop internal strategies and tactics to support the company's strategic plan. Throughout the text, we often refer back to this chapter to demonstrate how strategic issues drive human resource development decisions. We also provide an important link between organizational development (OD) practitioners and trainers, showing how the competencies of each of these disciplines complement and support the objectives of the other. In the remaining chapters we use an OD philosophy to address ways in which the training process and outcomes can be integrated into other organizational systems. This integration of the training process into a systems perspective provides the reader with an understandin...

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