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Training Needs Theories and Principles

Chapter 2 Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

Training has become a key focus for many organizations wishing to increase their capability, to pursue their strategy and to achieve their goals. It has a great impact not only on efficiency and organizational performance, but also on employees’ behaviour within the organization. Flexible training programmes may also help an organization to be more responsive to changes in its environment. Therefore, the first objective of this chapter is to explore the meaning of training and of training needs, while the second is to examine the theories dealing with these concepts. It then turns more specifically to an exploration of literature examining training needs in police organizations.

2.2 Developing Countries

According to Kinsey (1988), ‘developing country’ is a term used to describe countries outside the so-called Western bloc of technically advanced nations (North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) and the communist bloc. However, due to the rapid economic development in some countries (NICs) and the political and economic disturbances in the communist bloc which have resulted in dramatic changes during the last two decades, the above definition must be amended. Other terms which have been used to designate these countries include ‘industrializing’, ‘less-developed’ and ‘underdeveloped’. Each tends to have certain connotations, some being more complementary than others, and some gaining popularity while others disappear. Whatever term is used, these countries are distinguished by widespread poverty. Beside this basic characteristic, Kinsey (1988) describes developing countries as having certain similarities, including low income per capita and per worker, small industrial sectors, few economies of scale, primitive technology, lack of specialization, low capital per worker, small savings per head for the bulk of the population, lack of enterprise, inadequate physical and social infrastructure, low volume of international trade per head and low efficiency. The question is: how could developing countries influence our country in management training?

2.3 Organizational Characteristics

Organizations may be characterized in many different ways, depending on the reason for the classification. For the purposes of the present research, the characteristics of the Dubai Police must be examined in relation to the need for training; several authors have suggested that organization size, type of ownership and industrial sector are the main variables affecting the management of training needs (Abdalla and AlHomud, 1995). Alternatively, Wright and Geory (1992) connect training needs with management strategy, organizational structure and corporate culture. In theory, organizations can be characterized in many ways, but there is general agreement that the size of the organization is of prime importance, followed by structure, strategy (e.g. short or long term), technology use, environment and organisational culture. These are the theoretical concepts which will be examined in this study as quantifiable conditions and variables in the management of the Dubai Police.

  1. Definitions of Training

Training is a very important process in any organization, allowing it to develop its employees’ skills and improve their performance at work. This section considers the definitions of training suggested by a number of authors. Thus, training can be described as a perfect way to learn a job or to develop employees’ skills. The organization of individual skills is a significant characteristic of business responsibility today, and employee motivation potentially grows in the process (Noe, 1999). The profit from employee development extends further than the concrete skills gained and their effect on an individual’s efficiency (Benson, 2002).

Among the many important definitions of training, the following selection is organised chronologically for convenience. Training has historical definitions; for example, Schuler and MacMillan (1984) defined it as part of human resource management (HRM) practice which has the potential to contribute to gains in competitive advantage. But this definition was incomplete because in 1984 there was a lack of information on HRM, which was still a new concept for many organizations. There was also a focus on competitive advantage among organizations, ignoring employee development and direct benefit to the organization’s business.

Rainbird and Heyes (1994) then defined training as employee development via engaging employees in a commitment to the organization. But this definition only involved employees in commitment and did not state how they were to be developed at work, so Heyes and Stuart (1996) refined this definition by adding that training is a development process which evolves through strategic stages. This definition indicates that development in any organization, whether short or long term, involves organizational commitment.

Buckely and Caple (1995) defined training as a strategy to develop employees in skills, knowledge and attitude through a learning experience to achieve effective performance in a range of activities. Again, this definition was subject to important refinements, when Montesino (2002) pointed out that many factors may affect the effectiveness of training, including individual employees’ behaviour, the training programme, the local environment and the amount of support from each trainee’s immediate supervisor.

Earlier, when Smith and Hayton (1999) defined training, they also attempted to show how certain factors impact on training needs and the decision to train employees. First, employee performance is very important and should be improved. Secondly, improvement is needed in the flexibility and adaptability of employees. Finally, training always needs new technology and investment in training needs to achieve high performance in an organization. This definition indicates the importance of high performance for training decisions, of changing the roles within the organization to increase flexibility and adaptability at work and of using new technology to achieve high performance. The authors also claim that it is a more sophisticated system of human resources management.

According to Sparrow (1998), training can be managed to elicit the desired attitudes and behaviours in employees and to enhance involvement, motivation and organizational commitment. The main point of this definition is to motivate and involve employees in organizational commitment; the result could be to change employees’ behaviour, but these processes are controlled by the organization. Bartlett (2001) adds to this perspective by noting that there are many ways to motivate employees, the best being to improve access to training and the motivation to learn from training, as well as emphasising the perceived benefits of training. This definition shows the importance of motivating employees in training programmes and the benefit to be gained from supervisory support for training within the organization.

Finally, Palo and Padhi (2003) define training as the process of developing skills, updating knowledge, changing employees’ behaviour and attitudes in order to improve their performance and abilities and so to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.

2.5 Training Theories

2.5.1 Training and Behaviour Theories

Luthans (1998) considers that training can help organisations to change employees’ behaviour and that one technique of behaviour modification, encouraging desired behaviours and discouraging unwanted ones, is operant conditioning. Such behaviourist techniques were first used for the treatment of mental disorders and phobias, in psychiatric rehabilitation and in recovery from accident and trauma. Applications have since been extended to organisational settings. As developed by Fred Luthans (Luthans and Kreitner, 1985; Luthans et al., 1998), organisational behaviour modification theory has five mains steps.

The first step is to identify the critical, observable and measurable performance-related behaviours to be encouraged. The second is to measure the current frequency of those behaviours, to provide a baseline against which to measure improvement. Next, the triggers or antecedents for those behaviours are identified, as are their consequences, positive, neutral and negative. The fourth step is to develop an intervention strategy to strengthen desired behaviours and weaken dysfunctional behaviours through the use of positive reinforcement (money, recognition) and corrective feedback, noting that punishment may be necessary, for example to inhibit unsafe behaviour. Finally, there is a systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of the approach in changing behaviour and improving performance over the baseline.

Training can appear particularly attractive to managers, who are often in ideal positions to manipulate the reinforcement of certain employee behaviours. They also tend to find this approach attractive because it argues that what has to be changed is behaviour, and that to achieve this one needs to know very little about the complex internal workings of the people concerned.

Desirable workplace behaviours include speaking courteously to customers, attending training to develop new skills and being helpful to colleagues. Undesirable ones include lateness, the production of poor quality items and being uncooperative. Training should eliminate undesired behaviour and increase the frequency of desired work behaviour. Suppose a manager wants more work assignments completed on time and fewer submitted beyond deadline. The behaviour modification options are summarized in Table 2.5.1.

Luthans (1998) gives some ideas for improving performance through training, which failed to work. But Luthans argues that behaviour modification should be designed to suit organisational applications. Firstly, training should be applied to clearly identifiable and observable behaviours, such as timekeeping, carrying out checks and repairs, and the use of particular work methods. Secondly, to change organisational behaviour there should be a good strategy of rewards which are contingent on the performance of the desirable behaviours. Thirdly, training should focus on positive reinforcement, which can take a number of forms, from the praise of a superior to cash prizes, food or clothing. Finally, training can lead to sustained modification of behaviour only if positive reinforcement is continued (albeit intermittently).

  1. Training and Motivation Theories

Smith and Hayton (1999) identify the following theories, which mention the role of training in organizations.

i. Human capital theory

This theory focuses on training in terms of economic investment. Human capital theory sees training as improving efficiency (Becker, 1964; Mincer, 1974; Strober, 1990). It is concerned with developing ideal training conditions. In the 1980s neo-human capital theory stated that organizations should train their employees consecutively to develop the flexibility and suppleness of the workforce and their receptiveness to modernisation (Bartel and Lichtenberg, 1987).

ii. Human resource management theory

This theory concerns the commitment of employees to the organization and views training and employee development as a means of engaging it (Rainbird, 1994; Heyes and Stuart, 1996). The early formulation of a hypothetical structure for HRM came from the Harvard Business School in the early 1980s (Beer et al., 1984). Training is seen as a strategy for managing the human resource flow of a venture which, with other human resource policies, creates commitment, competence, congruence and cost-effectiveness.

iii. Training and high performance theory

This is among the most widely adopted theories in organizations in Britain and the USA. It concerns the ‘skills trajectory’ and proposes a distinction between those occupations which are becoming increasingly skilful and others which are deskilling over time (Gallie and White, 1993; Cappelli, 1993). Studies of high-performance employment practices and HRM strategies have resulted in the concept of human resources ‘bundles’ (MacDuffie, 1995; Dyer and Reeves, 1995) which highlight the significance of implementing a number of HRM practices collectively in ‘bundles’ in order to enhance performance. Training is always cited as a critical measure within the set.

  1. Training Needs Analysis

Training needs analysis (TNA) is a very important stage in the methodical training cycle of design, delivery and evaluation. The purpose of TNA is to take account of unusual meanings and perspectives depending upon a variety of actors in the process, avoiding misunderstandings about prospects and what can be achieved. In addition, external trainers and consultants are able to acknowledge the importance of a challenge when they rely upon TNA which has been conducted prior to their involvement with an organization. For instance, the excellence of feedback provided by the TNA process might differ significantly, from a very detailed search to a ‘cheap and cheerful’ canvassing of opinions about what is needed. In addition to the challenges noted above, there are considerations about whose benefit is served: Is the training compulsory? Does it represent the needs of individual people, their managers, the organization, etc?

2.6.1 Definition of Training Needs Analysis

Williamson (1993) defines TNA as a “systematic approach to determining the real training needs which exist within an organization or department”. This indicates that TNA involves collecting information, for example by examining the training programmes of different organizations. A number of managers will refer to the total procedure of identifying the essential training needs, after which the next step is to analyze and address them by the best available method. The pure understanding of the term describes the last procedure simply. Although understanding can differ, it is significant that there is supposed to be constancy of practice within any organization and all employees are assumed to be completely conscious of the sense of local terminology in this field. The term ‘training need’ can be difficult to define in practice, with serious consequences.

On other hand, there are many authors who have defined training needs analysis as the examination or diagnostic portion of the training system. In addition, it seeks to determine whether there exists a case of supposed performance deficiency in many organizations (Camp et al., 1986). This view applies to TNA. That is to say, needs evaluation in a training needs analysis is, in truth, a diagnostic attempt, rather than an effort to identify an apparently deficient performance, because TNA does not have direct access to employees’ performance. Conversely, Goldstein (1986) defines TNA as an attempt to analyze and diagnose an organization, task or individual, to decide if a cure is required and if so, which is the most likely to produce the desired results. Once more, TNA is seen as a diagnostic process at an organizational level.

2.6.2 Approaches to TNA

One of the earliest writers on TNA was Boydell (1976), who planned a methodical approach to training needs that had its roots in analyzing supplies using a method based on organizational objectives. For Boydell (1976, p. 4), “A training need exists when the application of systematic training will serve to overcome a particular weakness”. He also argues that training needs must be identified before training begins. A similar perspective is presented by Bartram and Gibson (1994, p. 3): “Analyzing training needs provides a focus and direction for the investment an organization has to make in its people.” Likewise, Bee and Bee (2003) assert that organizations’ needs are the drivers for training solutions to close any performance gap. Two supporting considerations which influence TNA are also noted by Reay (1994). Firstly, establishing who has ownership of the TNA is likely to determine whether the findings are ignored or implemented. Secondly, the person who really pays for it will point to the real employees and this is usually senior management. On the other hand, this methodical approach to TNA tends to adopt organizational perspectives. Reid and Barrington (1999) accept these perspectives, but warn that the needs may sometimes conflict, e.g. long-term development for an individual and lack of support opportunities might contradict each other. Similarly, Sloman (1994, p. 24) notes that “in the training sphere there can be a singular divergence of interests between the organization and the individual”. This viewpoint is shared by Palmer (2006), who warns against assessing training needs solely from the viewpoint of the organization. Many individual employees correctly follow their own training and development agendas and strategies. There are also sound business and motivational reasons for organizations to help employees to complete their self-development needs. Learning and development are continuing and practical (Sloman, 2003). They are supposed not to have to wait for business needs and training objectives to be set before embarking on a programme. Therefore, individuals need to take more responsibility for their own learning, rather than waiting for the organization to lead them.

2.6.3 Important TNA Factors in a Changing Competitive Environment

There are important factors which affect TNA in a competitive environment for any organization and which a professional approach to change requires those responsible to consider. These are now examined in turn.

i. Cross-competitive environment

The abolition of collective differences in vocational results can be maintained by training programmes for diverse employees in a competitive environment, which can produce admiration for individual differences in attitudes, values and behaviours, according to D’Netto and Sohal (1999), who recommend certain practices in the field of training. These include identifying exact training needs which are connected to the organization’s goals and objectives; assessing individual training needs to facilitate a contribution within the training programme; developing individual annual training strategies which take account of knowledge, operational and interpersonal skills, attitudes to the job and technological skills training; evaluating literacy, language and numeracy to assess the ability to undergo training; connecting training to rewards, project agreements, development procedures and pay scales; and identifying the complementary skills of employees through a review process.

ii. Diversity

Moore (1999) suggests that a diversity needs analysis is required for the effective integration of diverse group members. Two contrasting approaches to diversity of background are to ensure that the organization is diversity blind or to provide a diversity-negative environment.

According to Moore (1999), an important starting point in an environment of diversity in TNA is awareness of different challenges faced by people from different backgrounds within the organization. Training programmes should facilitate the understanding and appreciation of actual differences between people, which can apply in communicating and using language, in learning styles, in methods of dealing with conflict and in task and relationship orientation.

Developing and integrating competencies and skills in culturally diverse employees is the next step presented by Moore (1999). It should create a mechanism whereby individuals learn to avoid damaging processes due to dysfunctional interpersonal conflict, miscommunication, higher levels of stress, slower decision-making and problems with group cohesiveness. Moore (1999) states that the development of important communication skills is needed in order to achieve effective integration of competencies. These skills are the ability to consider viewpoints that may differ from one’s own, to communicate, to negotiate and to face difficulties appropriately.

iii. Leadership

According to Silverthorne (2005), leadership plays an important role in decision-making and organizational achievement. In order to develop effectively in a cross-competitive environment, leaders must understand and control their own behaviour, as this affects employees’ perceptions of leadership. They must also ensure that environmental issues are considered when choosing the best management style. However, appreciating the differences in leadership styles is not sufficient to be an effectual leader, as the necessary insight also varies with the environment.

Silverthorne (2005) states that an effectual leader knows which leadership style to employ and when to employ it. There are four contrasting leadership styles: active or involved, supportive, participative and attainment-oriented. Active leaders tell subordinates what is required and put into effect individual systems to direct them; the supportive leader creates a friendly environment and is responsive to her subordinates’ needs; the participative leader engages them in the decision-making process; and the achievement-oriented leader applies high standards to the decision-making process and appears confident that subordinates will reach them. Silverthorne (2005) argues that an effective leader’s choice of leadership style is based on the context of the task and the needs of the subordinates.

iiii. Communication

Silverthorne (2005) also suggests that one way to achieve better communication between individuals with different competitive backgrounds is to apply TNA to managers on how to work in a competitive environment. He proposes four ways of reducing cross-environment communication problems. First, managers should focus on differences in communication styles. Understanding that employees are different means describing a behaviour, rather than the individual. This will give the manager the time to understand the subject being discussed. Thirdly, the manager should attempt to understand the subject from the employee’s perspective. Seeing the employee’s point of view gives the manager an opportunity to better understand what the employee is trying to communicate. Finally, the manager must listen more openly than normal and engage in exercises to improve the communication process.

2.7 Management Training

Many organizations today have training programmes for their employees but the reasons for conducting them vary widely. Some provide job orientation for new recruits; others training on new equipment for existing employees or strategic planning courses for managers. Successful managers need multi-skills training and detailed information about the organization. Training programmes for managers should cover different skills than those for employees; examples are functional, administrative, planning and leadership skills. Assessing changes in performance following training is complicated by the fact that while some of these skills can be easily observed in the short term, others will be apparent only from long-term changes in the performance of the manager, the department or the entire organisation.

2.7.1 Different types of training needs

All employees should be aware of the types of management training their organization offers, because many will be planning to be line-managers in the future, so will require certain skills. McConnell (2003) lists twelve types of training which are very useful in one’s current job and helpful for the future. These are now examined in turn.

i. Group Training

Group training involves three or more individuals who participate in a common learning activity, generally led by a group facilitator.

ii. Coaching

Coaching is one-on-one job training. Generally it includes demonstrations, lectures and observation of practice.

iii. Mentoring

This is a process in which experienced employees are assigned to assist newer employees through guidance. Sometimes it takes a formal approach; at others it is informal. It is also used to introduce employees to a company’s culture and environment.

iiii. Self-Paced Learning

This is any learning activity in which the learner determines the speed at which the material is covered. Generally, it is an individualized form of instruction, but it can be used with groups, the speed being set either individually or by the group.

V. E-Learning

This is a term used to describe learning activities conducted from the user’s desktop via the Internet or e-mail. It is generally an individual activity.

Vi. Computer-Assisted Instruction

This is the delivery of training via a computer. Again it is generally individualized. It can include programmes on modelling, simulation, practice and knowledge.

Vii. Distance Learning Training

This describes instruction in which the teacher is geographically separated from the learner. Connection can be via satellite or phone line with the instruction delivered to a PC or to a room specially equipped with video or audio conferencing equipment.

Viii. Self-Study

Self-study refers to learning activities initiated and participated in by an individual. Programmed or computer-assisted instruction and reading assignments can all be self-study activities.

Viiii. Simulations

These are controlled and standardized representations of a job, activity or situation used as a basis for developing skills in dealing with the simulated situations.

VV. Lectures

These are structured oral presentations delivered for the transfer of information.

VVi. Job Assignments

Job assignments place an individual into an actual job, generally for a limited period of time, the primary goal being to learn all or part of the job.

VVii. Job Rotation

This is similar to job assignment but generally includes several assignments in a planned order or the exchange of jobs with another person.

2.7.2 Different levels of training needs

The objective of a training needs analysis is the identification of the training required to meet the recognized needs. In point of fact, while these may be accepted or revised by the employees, a senior person may be assigned to decide what training is necessary. The person conducting the training or assessing the needs is not always the individual who develops or recommends the training. On the other hand, the most important step in TNA is to translate the recognized needs into objectives. Then individual objectives can be used to develop or choose a training approach at individual and organization level. Beside the types of training, McConnell (2003) specifies the levels of needs for individual and organization and the personnel who will conduct the training.

i. Supervisors

These are the people who manage the people being trained.

ii. Human Resources

These are the professionals in the human resources department. If training is a function of the HR department, it is treated separately.

iii. Operating Department Employees

These are the employees of the department for which an individual is to be trained.

iiii. Training Department Personnel

These are generally training professionals employed by the training department. Their strengths are their skills and knowledge of training techniques and procedures. The most common criticism of such people is that they lack specific job or operational knowledge. Some organizations assign their trainers to specific areas-sometimes even to temporary work in the operating departments-to overcome such weaknesses.

V. Operating Department Personnel on Temporary Assignment to Training

These are people who usually have excellent job knowledge but often lack training skills. Many organizations use this approach because it gives greater credibility to the training sessions, while the operating personnel on such an assignment benefit greatly from the experience and learning of training techniques.

Vi. External Professionals

These are usually training consultants, supplier employees, or academics. Generally, they are used when the required degree of knowledge or skill is not available within the organization. These people are usually excellent trainers, but they can be expensive to use. If they offer similar classes on a regular basis, consistency may be lost if the same external person does not conduct all classes.

Vii. External Organizations

Local schools and professional organizations often conduct registration programmes in general subjects. Knowing the types of training currently being used by an organization and who conducts each training type provides an initial indication of what can be done. However, in some cases the training will have to be designed and/or obtained elsewhere.

2.7.3 The Roles of HR, Trainers and Line-Managers

The many roles within the training function can be analyzed and their strengths and weaknesses identified. The training function within an organization should have as part of its mission the meeting of the organization’s requirements; its success at accomplishing that will be the basis for the analysis.

HR people and line-managers in the training function should help the organization to improve and involve employees in training courses which could be helpful in enhancing their skills and hence their performance, so HR people and line-managers must undertake a number of tasks, summarised below.

  • Training organization: the mission of the training function, its internal structure, and internal and external relationships.
  • Training personnel: the selection, qualifications, and motivation of department employees.
  • Employee training in the requirements of specific jobs or activities.
  • Employee development training in the requirements of future jobs and broadening their abilities in their current posts.
  • Remedial training, conducted to correct inadequate basic skills such as mathematics, reading and writing.
  • Organizational development: improving communication and understanding throughout the organization in order to produce effective, functioning teams; establishing or changing to a desired culture; and responding to changing conditions.
  • Internal and external communication of the training department’s abilities, results, and offerings.

    Training facilities: the physical space and equipment allocated to conduct training.

  • Identifying training needs: determining the training required by individual employees and the organization.

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