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The modern business environment is characterized by rapid technological advances, globalization and growing competition among organizations. This situation, in turn, requires that only those organizations that are able to develop an edge for sustainable competitive advantage advance their business objectives when adequately meeting them.
Within the circle of strategists, there is a common believe that there is a need to view human resources as an asset rather than a cost. Thus, it made organizations focus on human capital as a source of competitive advantage. Organizations are currently paying special attention to knowledge, skills and attitudes of their employees with the hope to enhance the productivity of the employees and ultimately improve organizational productivity.
Training is an important factor and one of the means that organizations can implement to achieving a hands-on, flexible and qualified productive workforce. Most organizations view training to have a major impact on employee performance. For both new and existing employees, training is an important contribution to enhancing the quality of work and output.
Indeed, skill enhancement and training are considered to be the core components required for transforming ordinary organizations into high performance work organizations. Organizations that invest in training are able to impart better decision making, teamwork, problem-solving and interpersonal skills to their workforce.
There are many benefits accrued to training and there are guaranteed returns on money and effort invested. Better decision making can lead to very innovative ideas coming from employees that can make fortunes to the company. In addition, employees are not only able to make better and quick decisions but they are also more accountable for their work.
This results in profitability for the firm due to faster and better decisions as well as reduces costs by eliminating wastages and mistakes. Good interpersonal skills, on the one hand, mean that employees are able to understand each other and work together to achieve common goals. When this happens, it results into great teamwork, enhanced productivity and quality output. In addition, better work relationships results into a flexible and productive workforce.
Maple Leaf Shoes is a large group of a shoes manufacturing firm. It comprises various manufacturing divisions with a centralized administration. The whole issue of training was raised during a convention of shoes manufacturers. The firm’s vice-president who was in charge of one of the largest manufacturing divisions got a chance to interact with other industry stakeholders.
He was surprised to learn that some of the shoe producers were very cost efficient in their production. He also noted that, although they had no notable differences in wages with his firm, other manufacturers, especially from Italy and France, were able to contain their labor costs.
It was due to the fact that their workers’ productivity was significantly higher in comparison with Maple Leaf Shoes. Thus he learned that it could be made possible if they pay significant attention and heavily invest in training their workforce.
Thus, he immediately understood the necessity to implement the same strategies and began working on the ways to implement them in his organization. Particularly, he was interested in knowing the kind of training program that could be introduced to the firm to make the greatest impact on his staff productivity.
The challenge was thrown to Jane Reynolds, who was the special assistant in the personnel department. In the near past, Reynolds noted that firm had never really played any special attention to training neither was it among items of its highest priority in its agenda. Training was considered as an unnecessary and expensive undertaking.
The firm had largely relied on poaching from other firms whenever they were in need of skilled workers. They would also quickly conduct a quick on-the-job training whenever they were not able to meet their needs through poaching. Now, with the VP’s challenge, Reynolds must come up with an effective training plan that will be suitable for improving the level of skills of Maple Leaf shoes staff. Reynolds notes that this is an important undertaking for her and the firm.
Although she is ably trained and qualified to carry out such an undertaking, she feels that her contribution alone cannot sufficiently enable her to come up with the best plan. It is on this note that she contacts Russ Summers, the manager in charge of cutting operation to constitute a committee of first-line supervisors with her as the chair, to assist her in developing the program.
It is without doubt that training is an important variable towards enhancing employee productivity. However, training has to effective in order to attain this goal. An effective training should be able to take into account employee needs, organizational needs, as well as the strategic direction of the organization.
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In an organizational context, training is only deemed effective if it is designed in such a way that it is able to claw back most of what is learned to the job. An effective training program is one way of ensuring that this agenda is achieved. What then should be taken into account to develop an effective training program for Maple Leaf shoes? This analytical paper looks at the various alternatives available for Maple Leaf shoes to come up with recommendations and implementation tips.
Analysis of Alternatives
Maple Leaf Shoes has multiple alternatives that can be chosen from in order to solve the problem. In order to create an efficient training program, the company can pick one or multiple of the following alternatives:
- No training program. If the company decides the program is too costly, they can skip making a program altogether. However, this is neither practical nor advisable.
- An orientation program can be put in place. For the initial work period, employees can cover the basics and learn necessary knowledge for the job, providing a basis for the time before work actually starts.
- A computer course that involves power point slides, videos, and applied knowledge can be implemented in the program. This course could be a brief lesson, or an in depth learning experience, depending on the company’s preference.
- If the orientation program is implemented, it would also be wise to implement a testing or evaluation component. Before the orientation begins, a brief test can be given to see how much knowledge the employees have on the necessary points. The results of this test can give indication of the amount of training required, and which aspects must be focused on. The test results, however, must only be used as a benchmark – training will always be necessary regardless of the scores employees get (on job training in particular).
- A “buddy” system, where new employees are paired with veteran employees, could be utilized. This will provide on the job experience, and the veteran employee can help the new employee with any problems/ questions they may have.
- It may also be advisable to have continuous training, given at intervals of weeks, months, or even years. This will allow all employees of all experience levels to learn new skills at all times.
There would be a couple of recommendations to help Maple Leaf Shoes be more efficient and effective in their training of employees. Firstly, there would be to have an orientation program in place. This would be a brief seminar to welcome all new employees to the business.
These orientations would give the employees a basic overview of the company, as well as show employees how to do their jobs (the basics), as well as help them start in the organization.
During this course, a short test can be given to gauge the employee’s current knowledge, and give insight to areas that should be focused on for the training. For the inaugural orientation program, it may be wise to take employees with less than 3 (or so) years’ experience, to add to their learning as well. The next recommendation would be have a buddy system in place.
This would involve the first week (or more) of employment. The employer will have a highly trained worker help the new employee. The trained worker can train the employee to the best of his or her knowledge in this time. After the week (or more), the employee will have access to the trained worker to ask questions.
This is a good way to start the employee off on the right track. Also, the company should have an accessible computer course that all employees can take if they have any further questions. This can greatly help productivity. Lastly, it would be a good idea to have continuous training.
The company can have further orientations to inform employees of new technology, and ways to use it (for all employees, not just new ones). In conjunction with the inaugural tests, these continuous orientations can also have tests in order to compare the results. This will give insight to if the training is actually effective. These recommendations should help effectiveness, efficiency, as well as productivity.
The first thing to implement is the orientation program. First, it is important to work with the owners of the company to get some background information. This would be put into a PowerPoint presentation. Also included would be the work required to do the job. This would be given by a supervisor, and employees that have worked on the job for numerous years. This helpful information will also be included in the orientation.
At first, the new employees (and the 3 year employees) will be given a paid hour presentation during work time of the presentation. This then can be used for all new employees every six months (or so, depending on company preference). Secondly – implementing the buddy system.
The company will have employees that are highly skilled at their jobs. Some of these people will be paid to just teach new employees the ropes. For example, a floor supervisor, or other long term employees, can be chosen for this. They can do this job part or full time. This should not be too difficult to implement.
All that is needed is the willing employees. More work will get done because the new employee will always know what they need to do. After the week (or more) they will have gained vital experience and be more efficient. Next would be to have someone that is experienced in the job available for questions. A supervisor, or another employee should be made available as well as the “buddy” for any questions or concerns.
Also, an accessible computer with information found in the course/orientation should be available at all times. The company will need to get a computer designer to collaborate with a highly skilled worker to put helpful answers to frequently asked questions onto the computer.
Lastly is the continuous training. Similar to the initial orientation, have supervisors make presentations of new technology that can be shown to employees. Also, have other information to tell the current workers. Also the tests should be given yearly to make sure people are learning from the training.