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Monday, 22 April 2013

Personal Developmental Plan

Personal Developmental Plan

The University of Minnesota (2009), based on the work of career development theorist Donald Super, outlines four stages of career development as follows:

  • Exploration and Trial
  • Establishment and Advancement
  • Mid Career: Growth, Maintenance, Decline
  • Disengagement

Based on this theory, my career point would currently lie at level 2 – Establishment and Advancement. At current, I know my exact career interest (Employee development & Performance Improvement) and my pursuit of this degree is part of my fulfillment of my career goals. However, while I am currently working in the Human Resources field, with responsibilities for training and development, I also function as an HR generalist, which means that my attention needs to be split between several functions simultaneously. Considering my career interest and my current employment context, the following is my proposed developmental program, based on developmental approaches proposed by Noe (2010):

  1. Continued Formal Education – To improve competency in the areas of Performance Improvement and Employee Development in order to be better able to improve the organization's workforce and its competency. Educational pursuits with be self initiated with request for organizational support (such as tuition reimbursement, Study Leave, 'Flexi-hours');
  2. Externships – Due to the fact that within my company, there has never been specific focus on Employee Development or Performance Improvement, being allowed to experience best practices at least one other company, would significantly aid in the application of theoretical knowledge;
  3. Continued Job Assessment – This is already in place and aids in outlining my performance strengths and weaknesses. I would suggest enhancing the process by advancing developmental goals as well as the process for achieving these goals (Noe, 2010);
  4. More specialized Job Experience and Responsibilities – Re-organize job from HR Generalist to HR Specialist, with a focus on Performance Improvement and Employee Development. This would allow for better development of these areas within the organization, as well as focused personal career advancement.


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

University of Minnesota (Office of Human Resources): Employee Development (2009). Retrieved from

Making the Case for Employee Development

Making the Case for Employee Development

The following makes a case for an Employee Developmental Plan within an Electric Utility Company:

Saturday, 13 April 2013


Noe (2010) advises that in order for training to support companies in achieving their business goals and gain/maintain competitive advantage, it must address the principles that effect learning. The technology available to today's learning environment can greatly aid effective learning and transfer that benefits companies and affect their bottom line. Some of these technologies are listed below.

Learning Portals

Learning Portals (LPs) are sites that provide access to training resources such as courses, online communities, training vendors and resources (Noe, 2010). A customized LP is organized around a set of core competencies that employees are expected to achieve and has the capability of offering administrative support to training via features such as tracking employee enrollment or progress through programs and online tutoring mentors. An example of an LP can be found at

In my estimation, organizations will increasingly turn to LPs to compliment their training function and as a source option for training programs as well. As a tracking function, an LP will significantly reduce administration time and cost that personnel spend using internal tracking systems. As a source for training, they would present a ready pool of training courses – cutting back on research time, as well as offer the flexibility of ready-accessibility.


This involves software that allows users to access webinars or hold meetings online, with synchronous (real-time) access to discussions, teleconferencing, presentations and demonstrations, interactive whiteboards (TopTenREVIEWS, 2012) and the list goes on. With webcasting technology, trainers can deliver information from anywhere in the world to a dispersed group.

Because of its limitations for engaging trainees over a long period of time (Noe, 2010), webcasted programs need to be very precise in length and content and instructors should be prepped in distance delivery (Noe, 2010). Trainee engagement can actually be aided with an on-the-ground facilitator. My prediction of Webcasting software is that while it has a useful place in the training room, the technology, though utilized in the future, would to be limited to clippings and snapshots from experts that would compliment a face-to-face program.

Learning Management System

A learning Management System (LMS) is a platform that acts as your virtual classroom, allowing for the automation of training administration and content development and delivery (Noe, 2010). It allows users to navigate through course content on their own, selecting when and what area of course they wish to access at any given time. From your LMS, trainees may access discussions, and course readings, Instructor's tips, course grades, and may post links and upload files to share with colleagues.

LMSs place a certain measure of autonomy in the trainee's hand, making it a useful tool especially for adult learners. As with Learning Portals, I predict that LMSs will be greatly utilized in the future and will play a significant role in the management of the training function and with encouraging trainees to take responsibility for their learning progress.

Virtual Reality & Virtual Worlds

Virtual Reality (VR) uses "computer technology to create a simulated, three-dimensional world that a user can manipulate and explore while feeling as if he were in that world" (Strickland, 2007). Applied to training, technological devices are utilized to stimulate the trainee's senses and to detect the trainee's movements and create a visual perception of being in a targeted environment (Noe, 2010). A Virtual World (VW) presents a particular setting or 'community' in which the VR occurs. While there a several disadvantages to applying VRs and VWs to training, including cost for development and of equipment and difficult interfaces, as the technology improves and becomes more affordable, I think that the advantage of presenting real-life experiences to trainees who would not otherwise encounter such would far outweigh the disadvantages. I envision that VRs and VWs will become a very viable training tool and option.

Discussion Boards

This technology allows asynchronous collaboration among class participants in the form of discussion threads where participants can post comments and respond to the comments of others, over time (Virginia Tech, 2011). The interaction on a discussion board (DB) can occur outside of the training room and thus offers an attractive advantage of continuing learning beyond the training hours and the immediate training material. Trainers can utilize the DB to enhance learner engagement and participation, assimilation of content and ideas and even assessment of learning.

Currently, this tool is popular in the distance learning realm. I envision that it can also greatly compliment training programs and enrich learning in the training setting.


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

Strickland, J. (2007). How virtual reality works. Retrieved from

TopTenREVIEWS (2012). 2012 Compare Best Web Conference Services. Retrieved from

VirginiaTech (2011). You've got a discussion what are you going to do with it? DesignShop: Lessons in Effective Teaching. Retrieved from

Friday, 15 March 2013

Blog Assignment - TNA Proposal

Blog Post: Planning for a Needs Assessment Planning for a Needs Assessment Company: Men's Wearhouse


Men's Wearhouse ( was founded by George Zimmer in 1973 who aimed at providing men without a comfortable setting and painless procedure for buying clothing (Businessweek, 2004). With over five hundred stores in USA and over one hundred in Canada (Businessweek, 2004), the organization has a strong focus on product quality and customer satisfaction and seeks to live out its founder's slogan "you're going to like the way you look. I guarantee it". The company's mission is to "maximize sales, provide value to our customers, and deliver top-quality customer service while still having fun and maintaining our values". It's values includes high ethical standards, quality relationships, "nurturing creativity, growing together, admitting to mistakes, promoting a happy and healthy lifestyle, enhancing a sense of community, and striving toward becoming self-actualized people" (Men's Wearhouse, n.d.).

Training & Stakeholders

The goal of a training needs assessment (TNA) is to "determine whether a training need exists, who it exists for and for what tasks training is needed" Noe (2010). A mass TNA for the entire Men's Wearhouse organization will incorporate input and gain buy-in from the following categories of people:

• Upper Management – Persons at this level of the organization determine the overall budget to be assigned to training and they also examine training from an organizational perspective, seeking to identify how it can help the organization meet its strategic objectives (Noe, 2010). This is crucial to adding value to any organization, but even more critical for larger ones with more employees to cater for, more factors and threats to success to consider. Because the Founder/CEO is so involved in the life and direction of the organization, he and the Board of Directors should be actively involved in painting the big training picture;

• Supervisors/Line Managers – These persons have a clear picture of the on-the-ground reality. They know the actual capability and output of their staff, they manage their unit's budget (Noe, 2011), they know how training will impact the people they have;

• Employees – employees need to be willing to accept training and apply it to their jobs. Feedback from them is also crucial in identifying barriers to effective implementation of training.

Documents to Inform the TNA

The following will be reviewed to better inform the TNA process:

• Company's Strategic Plan – This is key in determining the direction training should take in response to the organization's existing and perhaps changing strategic direction. It also provides information on the organization's ideal performing state, which would help indicate the direction that needed training should take;

• Performance records – These provide an indication of the actual state of affairs within the company and would include performance management reviews/results, sales records, customer reviews, and such the like;

• Rewards & Recognition records – These records will be reviewed to identify which behaviors are being recognized and rewarded, in order to determine whether company factors are conducive to foster the application of training to the workplace;

• Disciplinary records – These can be scanned for identification of performance-based issues that need to be addressed;

• Existing training records – to identify what training has been done, how it was delivered, received and evaluated in the past and actual evaluation results.

Techniques to be used

Based on techniques outlined by Noe (2010), the following assessment techniques will be utilized:

• Documentation – this will be used for the examination of records named above;

• Focus Groups – will be held with employees to glean information from large groups of similar employees from various stores;

• Interviews – with key Upper Management persons who can give insight into the company's strategic direction

The Proposed Process

 Organizational  What are the performance issues that need to be addressed in order to better achieve our strategic goals?  Upper Management
   Which of the current performance issues are to be addressed by training?  Upper Management; Line Managers
   Which of these issues are the most critical, feasible and urgent? (Stolovich & Keeps, 2004)  Upper Management
   Do we have the budget to dedicate to addressing these training needs?  Upper Management
   What environmental factors are present that will affect the impact of training?  Upper Management; Line Managers, Employees
   Who are the key persons that need to buy-in to the type of training being considered?  Upper Management; Line Managers, Employees
 Person  Who needs to be trained?  Upper Management; Line Managers
   What are the characteristics of the persons to be trained?  Upper Management; Line Managers
   What are their motivation levels?  Upper Management; Line Managers, Employees
   Do they know what is expected of them in their jobs?  Line Managers; Employees
   Are they equipped to perform?  Line Managers; Employees
   Do the receive the necessary support required to perform well?  Upper Management; Line Managers, Employees
   Do they receive the necessary feedback and rewards to support good performance?  Line Managers, Employees
 Task  Which positions need to be targeted for training?  Upper Management; Line Managers
   What are the tasks involved in performing those jobs?  Line Managers; Employees
   What are the competencies necessary for completing those tasks?  Line Managers


Businessweek (n.d.). Spiffing Up Men's Wearhouse. Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine. Retrieved from

Men's Wearhouse (n.d.). Retrieved from

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.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

The Truth About Training

Untitled Document

Blog Post: The Truth About Training

Good morning Mr. George.  I’m quite intrigued by the initiatives the company is about to embark on.  I am however, a bit concerned that we risk failure if we continue with a lack of emphasis on staff training and development. We risk employee dissatisfaction and disengagement as it has been proven that employees count proper training as a measure of their worth to the company (Bradley, 2010), we also ignore the fact that our new initiatives demand specialized, industry-specific knowledge (Noe, 2010), and also we risk the ineffective use of time and company resources if our employees are not properly trained (Laureate Inc., n.d.). On the other hand, training, when done intentionally and correctly is critical to the achievement of business goals and strategy.  As a company examines its business strategy, it would naturally identify the activities that need to be accomplished in order to achieve that strategy. You then ought to ensure that your people on the ground – your employees are equipped to achieve those activities and related tasks.  Strategic, intentional training is the only way to achieve this. It is a critical predictor of the success of your business strategy.


Bradley, A. (2010). Shifting away from an employer’s market. Training and Development, 64(7), 16–17.

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

Friday, 12 October 2012

Managing Scope Creep

‘Scope Creep’ – the “tendency to improve [a] project’s output” (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton & Kramer (2008) can easily show its face in the best planned and simplest of projects. I participated once in an informal project that very well demonstrates how scope creep can occur.  At the time of the project, none of the members of the organizing team had any knowledge of project management and therefore was not able to identify what was happening.
            Our church decided to host a ‘food war’ competition for our youth group.  The plan was simple – divide the group into two teams, have them bake pizza, announce and reward the winner.  The actual activity was certainly a lot more complex – three teams that each participated in a baking and three other competitions, each of which needed to be separately judged and rewarded.  The organizers found themselves having to seek additional manpower to assist with monitoring and judging the different activities, as well as sponsorship for prizes for all the teams for each activity.  Upon reflection, we realized that the following things occurred under our noses:
  • ·       The event generated so much excitement within the youth group and the church that a lot more persons than expected started to get involved.  With more persons involved, more activity ideas were generated and embraced.  The increased activities called for an increased budget to meet expenses for increased ingredients and increased prizes.  The budget also had to be spread to include refreshments for the audience members on the night of the event, which numbered about four times the count of regular attendees.
  • ·        The organizing team spent much more time than anticipated in the organization of the event. Because of the continuous increase in activities and planning, the organizers were constantly trying to pin down new logistics for the night.  This resulted in many of them neglecting other church responsibilities that they had, having to focus on so many unexpected tasks for this event.
The way that the main organiser dealt with the scope creep was to attempt to delegate as many of the new and arising tasks to available hands.  This in itself was a project risk as such delegate was sporadic and done without any overall project management view in mind.  The event in itself turned out to be successful in terms of the interaction and collaboration it generated among the youths.  However, the hype of the night and the fact that quite a number of donations and last-minute offers of assistance were received shrouded the fact that the event was way over-expensed and nearly undermanned. 
            Knowing what I now know about Project Management, had I been the organiser of the event, I would have definitely been able to identify and control the project creep.  I would have carefully selected which additional activity ideas were within the scope of the project and which could not be entertained.  I would have been able to budget appropriately for additional activities and also be able to assign manpower as needed. Now that I know better, I would be looking out for such sneaky project creep in the future.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E.
(2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Friday, 21 September 2012


As a backdrop to this entry, I am to give my interpretation of a piece of information as it was delivered in three different modalities.  The message and interpretations follow:

Message: Hi Mark.  I know you have been busy and possibly in that all day meeting today, but I really need an ETA on the missing report.  Because your report contains data I need to finish my report, I might miss my own deadline if I don’t get your report soon.  Please let me know when you think you can get your report sent over to me, or even if you can send the data I need in a separate email.   I really appreciate your help. Jane.

In the written format, I sensed urgency from Jane’s communication, perhaps to the point of desperation.  I also get the impression that Jane has tried several times to obtain this report from Mark.

In this format, Jane comes over as authoritative, rushed and angry.  Had I been on the receiving end of this voicemail, I would feel as if I were given an ultimatum for producing the report.  Jane in this format comes over as being Mark’s superior or one who would mete out discipline as the next step if the report is not received.

This time around, Jane has a less rushed or demanding tone.  She rather sounds a lot more pleading than in the other formats.  Body language cues are available here and they convey a more casual and friendly approach.  Jane here seems to be Mark’s equal colleague, attempting to explain how the submission of Mark’s report affects her work.

From this exercise, it is clear that each modality has its own features, advantages and disadvantages.  This connotes that each modality would also have a best fit, depending on factors such as context, desired outcome, meaning, audience, and so forth.  In my purview, apart from being the most formal mode, written communication is the most controlled and therefore should be the staple mode of communication for project teams.  Whereas tone and body language can often send wrong or ambiguous signals, written formats can be used utilized to objectively confirm and clarify meaning. Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton & Kramer (2008) advise that while “informal communications occur continuously in the normal course of business”, all communication should be confirmed in writing.  This is a practice that I myself have seen the value of, seek to apply to my work, and will encourage others to also apply.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E.
(2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.