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Back to Training Basics
How does your management training stack up next to that of other companies? Are your training efforts at the forefront of innovative management development" Or are you still satisfied doing what's always worked best for you?
Similar questions asked of 14 high-technology companies during an assessment of the quality and impact of their training practices yielded predictable as well as surprising results. The most predictable and prevalent findings reflected much that is standard and traditional in management training. The surprising findings revealed a new approach to training and developing managers--one that challenges traditional methods by shifting away from production-oriented training toward more service-oriented training.
The new approach places less emphasis on traditional classroom training and moves training back into the organization--back toward the client, which is management. Development and training courses focus on immediate business concerns and the ongoing training needs of managers on the job. The shift epitomizes what effective management training has always been about--helping people develop skills and knowledge to improve their work performance. The key difference in the approach lies not in what training is offered, but in how it is offered. The orientation is not new, but its increasing application reflects a significant new trend.
Training programs notwithstanding, all 14 companies surveyed are production-oriented businesses. Close to half are high-technology companies based in California's Silicon Valley; the rest are large retail or electronics corporations: Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Motorola, Intel, Levi-Strauss, Mervyn's, Tektronix, National Semiconductor, Advanced Micro Devices, and Tandem Computers.
An orientation switch
Traditional management training in the classroom centers around a production model. Standardized courses are developed or urchased off the shelf and, over time, tend to have a uniform effect upon a varied audience. Managers attending the courses (input) are transformed as they learn certain skills (output). Quantitative indicators measure output, such as the number of attendees per class or quarter, cumulative hours devoted to training, or the number of "happy face" critiques returned. Training specialists oversee each phase of the production cycle: administrative (including course design and enrollment), course development, and training instruction.
The difficulties of managing a production-oriented training department tend to be administrative: handling course cancellations and noshows; juggling times, places, and instructors; allocating resources; and developing and delivering quality and timely training. Production-oriented training is appropriate for several task categories including repetitive and standardized work, such …