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WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT CLASS AND INSTRUCTOR KEVIN BRUNY, UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND

Having been out of the classroom as a learner for many, many years I was excited, yet terrified the first night.   Auditing this class was my first real attempt to prepare me to re-enter the business world.  What if I couldn’t handle the social media aspect of the class?  Yes, I have an MBA, but it’s a very old MBA.  What if I was ancient compared to the other learners and didn’t fit in?  What if the instructor turned out to be a total jerk?  In short, I was clueless as what to expect.

It turns out the class consisted of adult learners who were there to get their undergraduate degree.   The learners were female and these four women were enthusiastic, supportive, and had a great can do attitude.  The instructor , Kevin Bruny,  was definitely not “old school”.  His assignments required a great deal of time and thinking, but it was well worth the effort.

For the semester, U. of R. had chosen Kevin’s class to test school provided Ipads.  At first, the technology was overwhelming even though I had a MacBook.  I had never downloaded a e-book, much less been in a paperless class. The Ipad soon became my constant companion and I was sorry to leave it behind last night.  Often when completing assignments, I used both the Ipad and my Mac laptop concurrently.

Class assignments were challenging but each task had a purpose. We were exposed to an unbelievable array of social media, its purpose, and how to use it.    I learned to write a blog, use a wiki and twitter, and listened to Ted Talks.  Our final project was to develop a mobile learning plan using the ADDIE model and present it to our class.   This project culminated a semester of learning and has given me the confidence I lacked.

Most importantly, I have learned there is an amazing business world available at my fingertips.   I am more confident and resourceful.  I simply need to find my place and know I will be successful in a training and development career.  Thank you Kevin Bruny for allowing me to participate in your class.

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Adults Transfer Past Experiences to Learning

Malcolm H. Knowles introduced the andragogy model of learning for adults in 1968 and this model has been supported by several other theorists.   This model is in direct opposition to the child learning theory of pedagogy which describes how children are taught and learn.

Knowles’ model assumes that people who take the responsibility for their own learning activities learn more.  They want to understand why they are being taught something.

According to Knowles, adults learn differently from children.  Adult learning is strongly influenced by life experiences. They approach learning as problem solving and learn best when immediate  solutions  are needed.

Not only do adults bring these life experiences (including mistakes) to the learning environment, they learn new things by experiencing them.  An instructor needs to acknowledge a learner’s past experience.  This helps the adult  learn quickly and learn something the first time it is taught.

An instructor must be aware of his audience and teach them as adults who want to experience the learning.  The trainer can capitalize on the positive experiences and generalize past experiences to new learning.

References

Culatta, Richard (2011), Andragogy, M. Knowles.  Instructional Learning,

Retrieved from:  http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/andragogy.html

Hiemstra, R., & Sisco, B. (1990). Moving from Pedagogy to Andragogy.

Individualizing instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.)

http://www-distance.syr.edu/andraggy.html

Oakland Community College (2008) What is Pedagogy?  Slideshare. Retrieved

from http://www.slideshare.net/debmoral/what-is-pedagogy

Thompson, C. B.  (1999). Adults Learn Differently Than Children.   Retrieved

From Training Systems, Inc. http://trainingsys.com/articles/adultslearn.html


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Diversity and Its Impact on Corporate Culture

Diversity in the workplace refers to employees of various ethnic and racial backgrounds as well as females, handicapped individuals, and older Americans. Today, many corporations have an increasingly diverse workforce.

All organizations have their own unique corporate culture.  This cultural profile can be defined as the vision, strategies, beliefs, habits, and expected behavioral norms of their employees.    Diversity can have a major impact on the organizational culture of a corporation.  As the face of the workplace changes, the culture must adapt to diversity to be successful.

In the 2011 Spring edition of Diversity Inc., four case studies provide convincing evidence that a corporate culture must accept and promote diversity.  In cases where the CEO embraced diversity and personally committed to diversity management, the corporations were far more successful. In today’s global economy, companies must understand and adapt to different cultures.  Again, the successful corporations hired employees that understood a multicultural marketplace.

A review of the Walmart 2011 Workforce Diversity report reflects its efforts to diversify its workforce.  Walmart has been very successful in hiring and promoting minorities.

Our assignment this week has sparked an  awareness that diversity in the corporate world is not only a reality, but a great opportunity that must be embraced. The ability of a corporation to adapt its culture will be competitive and highly successful.  

            Managing diversity isn’t just about complying with a federal regulation.  You must employ quality employees.  When you open your applicant pool to include minorities, you have the opportunity to source the best possible talent. Especially when sourcing for international opportunities, hiring someone who understands the culture gives you the competitive edge. 

            To develop an effective diversity training program, the first step would be to involve top management and make sure they were onboard.   The CEO must understand the benefits of diversity management and be fully committed and give a strategic direction to the company.  Next, training for upper and mid level   managers would include the impact on corporate culture and profitability, how the program would work and their role in making the training a success.  Next the training would be rolled to supervisors and finally to the department level.  Everyone would be trained and all employees must understand the resources available to help develop needed skills and the responsibility of completing the training.

 


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Mentoring Must Be A Positive Experience

A classic example of poor mentoring was recently shared in my Human Resource Development class.  A new employee, Bob, was paired with an experienced employee who was to be Bob’s mentor.  While age should never be a factor in matching a learner and mentor, this was only the beginning of the problems Bob faced.  There was virtually no communication between the two and the only feedback for Bob was when the mentor would tattle to Bob’s manager of Bob’s mistakes.

An effective mentor/new employee relationship begins with the company developing clear, strategic objectives such as program goals, roles and responsibilities, scope of the program, and a means to assess the effectiveness. The prospective mentor must desire this role, have a can-do attitude and believe a mentoring relationship will help the company.   The new employee must be enthusiastic, be willing to accept coaching and acknowledge inexperience.  A positive mentoring experience can lead to retention of happy, dedicated employees.

To determine the effectiveness of a mentoring program, measurements should be put in place.  Both employees should complete a check list detailing actual performance vs guidelines for such items as reviewing the purpose and relationship between mentor and mentee, the number of mentoring meetings and hours completed and topics covered. Employee satisfaction surveys should be used to determine if the relationship is mutually beneficial.  Management appraisal of the new employee’s performance is a good tool as well as a comparison of non-mentored vs new hires’ performance. The employee, mentor, and manager should be aware of all results and develop an improvement plan as necessary.


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Using Personality Assessments for Personal Development

Since beginning my job search, I have taken three different personality assessment tests: Myers-Briggs, Strong Campbell Inventory, and most recently, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter11 (KTS11). These assessments have proven to be a great tool in developing personal career goals.

When challenged to take this KTS assessment for a class, I was particularly interested in learning the results in order to compare the results. For the most part, the KTS seemed somewhat in line with the Myer-Briggs and The Strong Campbell Inventory. The KTS proclaimed my temperament type Artisan ESFP vs the Myers-Briggs scoring of ENFJ. The KTS, while somewhat generic, approximated the results of the Strong Campbell Inventory. In all fairness, The Strong Campbell Inventory was much more detailed. I agree with the KTS description of my personality type as a risk taker, particularly when it leads to something that will make others happy. Also, it indicated that I like to solve problems and come up with creative solutions.

I believe that in general assessment tests can be an effective tool to manage personal development. Test results can lead to discovering strengths and desires. Particularly for a career changer, assessments can lend guidance in determining a career direction. These tools can uncover much about a person simply by asking personality related questions.

In order for assessments to be accurate and effective, the test taker must answer questions truthfully and not feel pressured to respond in a particular manner. The respondent must have a positive attitude about the test’s effectiveness as a career development tool. Otherwise, the results will be inaccurate.


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Case Study: BB&T Bank Teller Turnover Rate

BB&T Corporation of Winston-Salem, North Carolina operates over 1,500 banks primarily in the South and District of Columbia. The banks are organized into regions and run as local, community banks reporting to a regional President.

A common concern at BB&T is the unusually high turnover rate for bank tellers at 30%. The responsibilities of a bank teller are huge and yet the only training method provided at each bank location is on the job training. This training experience clearly is inadequate for the high expectations held for the tellers and leads to poor performance, frustration of the employee and management. and ultimately loss of the bank teller. For the transfer of learning required of a bank teller to effectively do their job, BB&T must make some significant changes. To have a better retention rate of their teller staff and not lose them as result of inadequate training, a revamp of the learning plan must be developed.

One alternative for training could include regional training development where each Regional President can decide what resources can used to develop and implement a training program. A downside to this alternative would be inconsistent training from region to region. Another possible solution would be to have one central training location at corporate headquarters where all tellers would attend prior to starting their job at each branch. While training would be consistent, this solution would be quite expensive to house and feed employees. Also, tellers would be expected to learn at a rapid pace and retention of the knowledge may not occur.

A third and probably the most effective method of training would be a corporate developed training program offering a blend of training methods following the addie model. The first step is to assess what training is needed and the priority of the needs. Using the information given about teller responsibilities as a starting point, a thorough assessment of the training required must be done with input from the regional staff and branch employees and managers. Once the assessment is completed, a training design is formulated that defines performance objectives. With established objectives, a training program can be developed to meet the objectives. In this step, the particular delivery methods can be determined. For example, all trainees would attend an orientation at a central training location. During these sessions, expectations and a clear path to being a successful teller must be explained. The new employee is indoctrinated with a sense of excitement and pride of being a BB&T employee. Concurrently, train the trainer with the new training methods is delivered to branch employees.

Following the orientation, trainees leave with a plan of what comes next. The next training step could be through the use of Facebook instruction and online videos learning to deliver specific modules as prioritized during the assessment. BB&T should follow up with webinars and team based learning throughout the training process. With this process in place, an ongoing evaluation begins and tweak any deficiencies as needed.


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Employee Movtivation to Transfer Training Survey

One of our challenges this week was to survey employees as to their level of motivation to transfer what was learned during their most recent training class to their actual work environment. I interviewed three people that worked in the same office with the following professions: President/Trainer/Consultant, Vice President/Trainer/Consultant, and the Manager of Accounting, Loans and Administration.

I was surprised by the reaction of the two trainers as opposed to the Accounting Manager.
The President/Trainer of the organization tended to be a bit more negative than positive in her responses. About half of her answers and the ensuing discussion were somewhat skeptical as to the effectiveness of training received and the value it offered to her work environment. She felt she hadn’t obtained skills that were helpful in solving work-related problems and that it wasn’t realistic that the training would help her productivity. Prior to the training, she had given little consideration as to the content and didn’t consider projects or problems that training could help.
The Vice President/Trainer responded similarly to the President except that she strongly disagreed that the training was effective in helping her solve work related problems or improve work productivity. She had given little thought as to identifying problems/projects before training. She did feel trainers didn’t realize the amount of issues trainees experienced in applying training content.

The third respondent, a “non trainer”, answered her questions in a far more positive manner. She either strongly or somewhat agreed to all questions.
Possibly the subject matter had something to do with the responses. In the case of the Accounting Manager, her training involved learning software and budgeting techniques, and assessing loan applications all of which have concrete methods of doing business. She could immediately see the results of her training. In the case of the President and V.P., their training was more abstract and dealt with working with non-profit organizations. This training was more guidelines, suggestions, and creative tips.

Another factor to consider is that both the President and V.P. are experienced trainers and have seen quite a bit of ineffective training and trainers through the years. As I know them well from working for them, they are both extremely organized and meticulous about their training role. Their standards are probably higher that the average trainee attending a class. I’m sure they are a tough audience!