Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week 7 – Employee Development

Assignment Part One - Presentation: Based on your learning this week, develop a 5- to 7-slide PowerPoint presentation to your boss or to the head of human resources at your organization. Make a definitive case for a company-wide employee development plan. Be sure to make at least FIVE strong points about why employee development will be beneficial to the organization. Also include at least THREE types of employee development initiatives you are suggesting that the organization adopt. Lastly, be sure to reference one of the cases/examples from this week’s article, “Unleashing Positivity in the Workplace,” to help strengthen your case.
Employee Development Plan Presentation

American Society for Training & Development. (2008). Learning’s role in employee engagement. An ASTD Research Study. Retrieved from

Employee Development. (2010). University of Minnesota, Office of Human Resources. Retrieved from

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Pace, A. (2010). Unleashing positivity in the workplace. Training and Development, 64(1), 40-44).
Assignment Part Two - Personal Development Plan: Write your own personal development plan designed for you specifically and post it on your blog. Include the following components in your plan: (1.) Four types of development (from this week’s Learning Resources) that you will advocate for your employer to provide you and/or that you will pursue on your own (for example, continuing your professional learning outside of the workplace) (2.) A rationale for each of your development ideas
Personal Development Plan
I am a partner in a training and development company with my sister. We are known for the integrity of our operations and the strength and power in which offer solutions to companies who are dealing with performance issues.
Areas of Interest / Position TitleCompetencies / Skills / Knowledge Needed: (areas to develop)
Training ManagerDevelop skills and work experience as an Instructional designer
Performance Improvement TechnologistDevelop Skills and work experience in the following areas:
• Conduct performance gap analyses
• Analyze the structure of jobs, tasks and content
• Analyze the characteristics of a learning/working environment
• Indentify and implement performance improvement interventions and strategies
• Evaluate performance improvement interventions
Areas of Interest / Position TitleCompetencies / Skills / Knowledge Needed: (areas to develop)
CEO of Coaching For Power• Develop knowledge, skill and experience in all areas related to entrepreneurship and starting a business
• Develop skills in marketing and networking
• Develop additional skills in management
• Continue to develop skills as a coach/consultant
Renowned Motivational Speaker• Expand skills as a professional speaker
• Develop skills in marketing and networking
Access to Developing Skills

What forms of development will I pursue based on readings from this week’s resources

Formal Education: Given my current position at my company and the lack of employee development offered by my company, pursuit of formal education will continue to be something I pursue on my own time. I anticipate that taking a few business courses especially geared around entrepreneurship and starting a business would benefit me in developing the knowledge needed to effectively start my own business.

Transfer/Promotion: Imperative to my future as a CEO, I need to expand my skills in management and running a business as well as marketing. My current company is projected to experience exponential growth in the next six months. A transfer to the marketing division of my company or a promotion to Director of Sales would provide me new experiences and new levels of accountability.

Enlist a Mentor: Finding a mentor who has been successful in management or has been successful in creating his/her own consulting company would be beneficial to my ongoing development. Noe (2010), states “mentors provide career and psychosocial support to their protégés (pg. 373). Initially, if I were to stay with my company and accept a promotion, I would be interested in finding a mentor who has been successful as a director. As I expand my capacities and pursue my ultimate goal of having my own company, a mentor or coach who has created a successful consulting company would be advantageous.

Assessment Tools: There are a number of assessment tools that can be utilized to assess an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. In addition there are assessment tools which measure skills, personality types, motivation, work styles, oral communication skills, written communication skills, organizational ability, and leadership ability. I believe the use of some assessment tools would benefit me by offering me insight into what some of my strengths are, what some of my weaknesses are and which skills need further development and to what extent.

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2004). Training ain’t performance. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Week 6 – Technology Use in Training

Assignment: Post a blog entry that explains the impact each of your FIVE selected technologies has and will continue to have on how people learn and interact, and the implications of this for training. If available, include links to websites that offer the technology or images of the technology in your post.
Distance Learning Image from Introduction to Distance Learning BlogImage from Introduction to Distance Learning Blog
Distance Learning

"Distance learning is used by geographically dispersed companies to provide information about new products, policies or procedures as well as deliver skills training and expert lectures to field locations" (Noe, 2010, pg. 325).
Virtual classrooms can be utilized which may include teleconferencing or webcasting allowing for the exchange of audio, video, text etc. between individuals at different locations. Trainees interact with the trainer via telephone, or typing in questions via their keyboard.

Employees participate in training anywhere they have access to a computer.

Flexibility regarding when training occurs is possible because training programs can occur "live" via virtual classroom or can be viewed via tape later.

Companies can save on travel costs.

Distance learning "allows employees in geographically dispersed sites to receive training from experts who would not be available to visit each location" (Noe, 2010, pg. 326).
A major implication of distance learning is the ability for companies to save money on travel costs.

Distance learning will increase the opportunity for employees to meet others from different sites allowing for increased  collaboration.

As companies continue to experience  the advantages of distance learning, more effort will be focused on overcoming the disadvantages (lack of interaction between trainer and trainees, technology failures, unprepared trainers) and courses designed for distance learning will improve.
Examples / Resources of Distance Learning
Chron Small Business - How to Buy Distance Learning Education Course

eLearning - A community collecting and organizing the best information on the web about eLearning - Information to assist in finding on online college or university
Blended Learning Image from eTutors Portal Image from eTutors Portal
Blended Learning

"Blended learning combines online learning, face-to-face instruction, and other methods for distributing learning content and instruction" (Noe, 2010, pg. 317).
Blended learning provides learners with the advantages of both face-to-face instruction and technology based instruction (on line learning, distance learning or mobile technologies) while minimizing the disadvantages of each.

Blended learning provides significant learner control, allows the learner to direct own learning and requires learner to take responsibility for own learning.

Blended learning offers classroom face-to-face time which supports learners in sharing information and receiving direct feedback, which helps make it meaningful.

Blended learning has "been found to be more effective then face-to-face instruction for motivation trainees to learn and for teaching declarative knowledge or information about ideas or topics" (Noe, 2010, pg. 217).
Companies can take advantage of the some of the lower costs of online learning, while emphasizing the strengths of face-to-face learning.

The face-to-face portion of the learning allows for employees to practice skills learned in the technology based instruction, so skills are not just being taught, but there is interaction with other employees to facilitate  practice and mastery of skills.
Examples / Resources of Blended Learning
Report cites 40 diverse examples of blended learning

Blended learning or training –definition and explanation

Looking for interesting examples of…blended learning
Electronic Performance Support Systems Image from Lawrence Najjar's Web Site Image from Lawrence Najjar's Web Site
Electronic Performance Support Systems

Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS) is an electronic infrastructure that captures, stores, and distributes individual and corporate knowledge assets throughout an organization to enable individuals to achieve required levels of performance in the fastest possible time and with a minimum of support from other people" (Noe, 2010, pg. 329).
An EPSS includes all the software needed to support individuals in doing their jobs.

Knowledge to perform a task is easily accessible.

An EPSS provides a support system that assists employees in identifying actions that are appropriate given a particular set of conditions.

A typical EPSS will include: “an assistant to automate tasks and lighten the work load, a librarian to provide knowledge, a teacher to guide the user through the process step by step and an advisor to provide expert advice” (Noe, 2010, pg. 329).

“Performance is achieved through the use of the system by the job performer. The system has been designed to enable performance by leveraging a person’s inherent intellectual and social skills and presenting and structuring information, knowledge, advice and support resources at the moment of need to reduce the amount of job knowledge a performer has to internalize in order to perform a task” (Raybould, 1995, pg. 8).
Companies can reduce the cost of training staff while increasing productivity and performance.

An EPSS can be used when employees must begin to perform immediately and training is unavailable or difficult to obtain.

Less cost in updating the training because an EPSS is easily updated.

An EPSS will encompass the needs of all employees because it will allow for different level of knowledge in users and different learning styles.
Examples / Resources of EPSS Knowledge Base
Intelligent Tutoring Systems Image from Performance Xpress Image from Performance Xpress
Intelligent Tutoring Systems

Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) "are instructional systems that use artificial intelligence" (Noe, 2010, pg. 324).
Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) are able to match instruction to the needs of the individual trainees.

ITS is able to communicate and respond to individual trainees.

ITS can model an individual’s learning and can make decisions about the learners level of understanding in order to determine what information to provide for further learning.

Its provides individual’s with the opportunity to practice their skills in an artificial environment, while receiving feedback and coaching.
As this technology advances, how people are educated could be revolutionized. This technology could provide “individualized tutoring” without the high costs of human tutors.

Learning could be streamlined so that learners are learning only what they need based on their performance on specific tasks.
Examples / Resources of ITS
Architecture of an Intelligent Tutoring System on the WWW

Very Serious Training Game Yields Performance Improvement for Navy officers
Social Networking Image from Learning Through Technology BlogImage from Learning Through Technology Blog
Social Networking Tools

Boyd and Ellison (2007) define social network as “web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (pg. 2). There are many social networking tools such as; blogs, wikis, Twitter, Ning, Facebook, MySpace, etc.
Social Networking tools allow for collaboration for trainers and trainees.

Collaborative problem solving as a process of learning can be exploited with social networking tools.

Quinn (2009) stated “the recognition that learning is 80% informal suggests that we need to support natural connections between people who can help one another. And we can distribute that support between employees, partners, or customers” (para.1).

Social Networking opens up the door to identify people who have expertise and knowledge.
Social networking is relatively inexpensive, with the potential for a huge payoff.

Following more formalized training, social networking tools could be a huge opportunity for support, collaboration and ongoing learning.

Social networking sites can help educators share information and resources, create professional learning communities and improve communications with students and staff.
Examples/Resources of Social Networking Tools
Twitter (Microblogging Tool)

Wikispaces (Wiki tool)


Boyd, D. M. & Ellison, N.B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. Retrieved

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Quinn, C. (2009). Social networking: Bridging formal and informal learning. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved

Raybould, B. (1995). Performance support engineering: An emerging development methodology for enabling organizational learning. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 8(1) pg. 7-22 Retrieved

Friday, May 13, 2011

Week 2 – Planning for a Needs Assessment

Assignment: Assume that you have been asked to perform a needs assessment for one of the listed companies (not shown here). Try to get a sense of the organization's products and/or services, consumers, management philosophy, and strategic objectives. Based on this, how might you approach the needs assessment? Answer the following questions (questions are asked and answered in the below entry). Post a blog entry that describes your plan for performing a needs assessment at your chosen organization.

What stakeholders would you want to make sure to get buy-in from?

Whole Foods Market
Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market®
Whole Foods Market is a natural and organic food chain with more than 300 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Currently there are 54,000 team members as well as a Leadership Team (comprised of C0-Chief Executive Officer, Presidents, Executive Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, etc) and a Board of Directors. Although this organization is very collaborative, it is unrealistic to expect to get buy-in from everyone. I think the most important stakeholders to get initial buy-in from would be the Executive Team (E-Team), made up of the top five members from the leadership team. I think these are the initial people who would give the green light to proceed with a needs assessment. Following these five, it would be the whole leadership team, the board of directors and of course anyone whom I speak with during the needs assessment. I think buy-in is an ongoing process. Once one has buy-in from the top stakeholders, it is imperative that the consultant conducting the needs assessment understands that buy-in at all levels is critical. Without buy-in from all team members involved, sabotage is a potential barrier to an accurate assessment.

What questions would you ask (and to whom would you address them) during the organizational, person, and task analysis phases?

Organization Analysis

For the organizational analysis I would ask questions of the Executive Team and perhaps some of the other presidents so that I cover the major divisions of the company. The intention would be to get a clear view of the company's basic philosophy, culture and strategic goals. As well as an understanding of how the company is performing in relationship to the goals and expectations of the stakeholders. In addition I would want an understanding of their views on how a strategic training program would support the business needs as well as employee development. Some of the questions I would ask would be: (note: this represents some of the questions, there would likely be more to get what I need)

What are your core mission, values and strategic goals?
How does the organization perform in relation to the expectations of the stakeholders?
What corporate need is this program going to address?
What is the current level of performance? What is the desired level?
Should organizational resources be devoted to this program?
What do we need from the leadership team, managers, and team members for this training to succeed?
What training resources are available?
How will employees perceive the training (as an opportunity, reward, or punishment)?

Person Analysis

Once the organizational analysis is complete, I will have a better understanding of the performance issues and can begin to analyze the factors that influence performance and learning. Person analysis helps to identify whose performance is below expected levels, what are the factors that cause the performance to be below expected levels, and is training an option to elevate performance. Following are some of the questions which I would ask. These questions would be asked of managers and team members.


Do the employees know how to perform effectively?
Have they been effective previously?
What should employees being doing now that they are not doing?
Can the employees demonstrate the correct knowledge or behavior?
What is preventing them from reaching the goal you have envisioned?
Are performance expectations clear? Do they know the standards that are expected of them?
Is good performance recognized and rewarded?
Do they have the necessary resources, job aids to perform their duties?
What actions have been taken to increase performance?

Team Members:

Can you find information related to how to perform your job?
Do you believe you have the necessary skills to do your job?
Do you believe you have sufficient knowledge to do your job?
Do you understand the standards you are expected to meet?
Is the feedback you receive related to these standards?
Do you have the right tools, materials and supplies to do your job?

Task Analysis

To conduct the task analysis, I would ask questions of subject-matter experts: managers and employees who are familiar with and proficient at the specified job. Important to the task analysis is to focus on the tasks necessary to accomplish the company's goals and objectives.Some of the questions which I would ask would be:

What is the expected output of that task?
How do you know if the task is done correctly or incorrectly?
What are some indicators?
What is the outcome if the task is done correctly?
What do you do if it is done incorrectly?
How often do you do the task?
How critical is the task for effective performance?
How do you know it is time to do the task?
What tools or resources do you used to do the task?

What documents or records might you ask to see?

I would be interested in viewing documents related to their mission, vision, strategic goals. I would want to see records pertaining to the company's performance over the last few years. I would be interested in viewing records of customer feedback including complaints and compliments. In addition I would want to see the various job descriptions with specified job requirements, and any policy and procedure manuals.

What techniques would you employ (see Table 3.2 on page 108 of the Noe text), and why?

I would attempt to use as many needs assessment techniques as I could. No one method is superior to another, and they all have advantages and disadvantages. Clearly I would review corporate documents, including manuals, policies, procedures, job descriptions and related tasks. These documents would give me an idea of the company, it's direction, procedures in place and an understanding of the current jobs and any possible new jobs. Another technique I would be interested in would be observation. I believe observation would provide me with an understanding of the work environment, and how employees interact with each other and the customers. One drawback is there are over 200 stores all over North America and Europe, observation would be limited to just a few and the question would be is this an accurate representation. The other two techniques I would use would be interviews and questionnaires. I think interviewing managers, supervisors and other team members would help me uncover training needs as well as uncover other concerns related to performance issues. The easiest of these assessment techniques might be using questionnaires because I could get feedback from a larger audience. The disadvantage to questionnaires however, is it is difficult to write good questions that are not subject to interpretation, and the respondents cannot ask for clarification very readily.


Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Piskurich, G. (2006) Rapid instructional design: learning ID fast and right (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2002). Telling ain't training. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Whole Foods Market IP, L. P, (2011). Whole Foods Market: Natural and Organic Grocery. Retrieved May 12, 2011 at

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Week 1 - The Truth About Training

Assignment: Imagine you have just 2 minutes or so to give someone an "elevator speech" regarding the "truth" about training. This person does not believe that training is important, complicated, or even necessary. What might you say to this individual to convince him or her otherwise? What key insights could you impart that this person likely would not have known and would find surprising and/or interesting?

Three Key Points:

1. Training increases employee engagement and improves employee retention
2. Training improves a company’s competitive edge
3. Training enhances company profits

Listen to MP3 fileClick here to listen to Elevator Speech in MP3 format (2.2 MB) Listen to WAV fileClick here to listen to Elevator Speech in WAV format (11.8 MB)

Elevator SpeechOne effect of the current world economy is an increasingly competitive environment. Paramount to this new competitive environment is obtaining and retaining highly skilled and motivated workers. Raymond Noe in his book entitled Employee Training and Development stated that despite the need for high-level skills in today’s job market, many job applicants lack those necessary skills, in fact surveys of employers report that high school graduates are deficient in problem solving/critical thinking, in addition they are lacking in written and oral communication skills, and further have a subpar work ethic. Retaining good skilled works is critical, and a strategic training program can support employee retention. A study conducted by the American Society for Training and Development found that employees want training that will help them grow their skills and knowledge to better perform their current job. Training increases employee loyalty, and thus retention, and helps you attract the best possible employees.

Another important advantage to a solid training program is that training improves a company’s competitive edge and enhances company profits. According to the American Society for Training and Development, companies that invest in learning outperform the market by more than 45 percent. Companies that don’t invest in their staff’s professional development underperform the market by 22 percent. It is imperative that companies understand that keeping worker skills up to date will at the very least keep their company in the running, but for many who invest in training they can expect increased profits. “Firms that invest $1,500 per employee in training compared with those that spend $125 experience an average of 24 percent higher gross profit margins and 218 percent higher revenue per employee” (Bassi, 2000).

So, the truth about training, you would be crazy not to invest in training.


Bassi, L., (2000) Profiting From Learning: Do Firms' Investments in Education and Training Pay Off? T&D, American Society for Training and Development

Bassi, L. & McMurrer, D. (2007). Maximizing your return on people. Harvard Business Review, 85(3), pg. 115-123. Retrieved from

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

The Journey Continues

Welcome to my blog. A new course new insights, thoughts and ideas will be posted periodically. The next course in my graduate program is Training & Development. Please feel free to comment and offer thoughts and insights of your own.  -Marne

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Week 6 - Analyzing Scope Creep

Assignment:  Describe a project, either personal or professional, that experienced issues related to scope creep. What specific scope creep issues occurred? How did you or other stakeholders deal with those issues at the time? Looking back on the experience now, had you been in the position of managing the project, what could you have done to better manage these issues and control the scope of the project?

I was involved in a project a number of years ago in which my company decided to sponsor a couple of families during Christmas time. The intention was for employees to purchase presents for these two families, and then have a little party where we would give the families their gifts. All of the employees were enrolled in the project and promised to bring gifts. The date of the party was set and the interests and sizes of the family members were distributed. Two days prior to the date of the party, all employees were informed that the number of families “we” were now going to be sponsoring was six, not the original two, and we were “expected” to provide enough gifts for everyone. (scope creep) Most employees were aggravated with both the change in the number of families we were sponsoring as well as the late notice. Management did little to alleviate the concerns, but reiterated that there needed to be enough gifts for everyone. Result, come day of the party; there was not enough gifts for all family members. A few of the employees realized this, took up a collection and went shopping right before the party to get the rest of the gifts.

In retrospect, had I been in charge of this project, I would have a done a few things differently. One is if I wanted to expand the original scope from two families to six families, I would have informed all staff and gotten buy in from them. Second, very obvious, I would have given them enough notice to do the shopping they needed and to wrap the gifts. Another thing I would have done is created a sign up list for people to say what they bought and for whom, so we could manage that all family members obtained gifts and there were no duplicates. Finally, I would have requested all gifts were purchased and brought into the office by a certain date, so if we were short, it could have been dealt with immediately.

Looking back, I remember many of us (the employees) were inspired by the original project. We were excited to be part of a team making a difference for others. By the end of the project, although we knew we made a difference, we were annoyed and felt abused by the company because we felt pushed into spending more money than we originally anticipated. Scope creep definitely has an impact on both projects and people and consequently needs to be managed effectively.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 3 - Communicating with Stakeholders

Assignment:   view the multimedia program "The Art of Effective Communication." In this program, you will observe a piece of communication in three different modalities: as written text, as audio, and as video. Pause after receiving the communication in each modality, and reflect upon what you interpret the message to mean. Think about the content and tone of the message. Record your interpretation of the message after receiving it in each modality. Post your interpretation of the message as it was delivered in each of the different modalities, pointing out what, if anything, changed about your interpretation from one modality to the next. Then share a synthesis of your thoughts regarding what this activity implies about communicating with members of a project team. What did you learn that will help you communicate more effectively with others in the future?

It is likely not a surprise to anyone that effective communication is vital to successful project management. Through communication we are able to share and exchange information with others, as well as influence another’s behavior, attitudes and understandings (Portny et al. (2008). Communications style differ amongst individuals and what works well with one person may not work as well with another. It is important that we develop an awareness of our own communication style and how that style influences what we view as effective communication. For example, my communication style in a professional setting whether written or verbal, tends to be very direct and specific. I make requests and attach dates and times to my requests (ie: please let me know by Friday end of business when I can expect to receive the financial report for the Kensington project). For me, I have to be responsible that sometimes my communication can be too direct, and depending upon my audience I may have to alter the tone of the message.

When I consider the message delivered by the three different forms of communication, I would say that for me, the most effective style was the email, however having said that, I was not impressed with the message itself and believed it to be ineffective. I viewed the email first and my interpretation of said email was that Jane needed something from Mark, she was understanding of his schedule, but needed it soon. She seemed cordial, but languid in her request. For example, she was not at all specific in what she needed she only said “the report”, with no further information about what report, and no specifics about when she needed it. She stated “soon” which is open for interpretation. She further did not request that Mark get back to her to acknowledge that he got the message and by when she could expect the report.

The second message delivered by voicemail was similar in that it lacked the necessary details. Again, she seemed cordial and understanding of his time, but her tone had a hint of blame. My interpretation was that she was kind of blaming him that she could not get her report done. There seemed to be a hint of desperation in her voice as well, however the lack of details and a specific request of by when he could send the information negated any urgency.

The third message delivered face to face was the least effective. Her body language and tone of voice left me with the impression that although she wanted the information, there was no need to rush. She seemed like she was just asking for the report because she was “supposed to”.

What I learned from this exercise was that it is important to know your audience and to be very specific with regards to ones requests. If I were on the receiving end of the message in this exercise, I am not sure that I would have taken the actions that Jane intended for me to take in a timely manner. Jane assumed that I knew what report she was talking about, and she assumed that I would get it to her “soon”. Soon for me is likely different then soon for her. Being specific is very important. Second, with regards to knowing your audience, people will perceive communication in different ways, and it is important that whenever possible, we review our communication to ascertain if it could be perceived by another in a way unintended.


Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, (2008). Project Management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.