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PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN

The development of an employee beyond the scope of the job responsibilities provides growth not only for the employee but the organization as well. “Development prepares them for other positions in the company and increases their ability to move into jobs that may not yet exist” (Noe, 2013).  Is the responsibility to develop on the organization or the employee?  Both!  Employees need to understand how to turn deficiencies into strengths through self-assessment, setting goals, and then putting a plan in place to achieve those goals, but the organization also needs to assist the employee through measures like Employee Development programs.  Personal development in the workplace can be gained through formal education, experience gained on the job, relationships, and assessment of personality and skills (Noe, 2013).

Formal Education

Formal education includes both “off-site and on-site programs designed specifically for the company’s employees, short courses offered by consultants or universities, executive MBA programs, and university programs” (Noe, 2013).  Most formal education is conducted in-house where the organization is responsible for development program.  Formal education can also be achieved through short, intensified courses offered by consultants or universities. When employees prefer to gain formal education outside of the organization, some organizations look to offer Tuition Assistance (TA) to the employee for both enhanced employee capability and improving employee retention.  To take advantage of my organization’s offering of approved TA, I have enrolled in a Master’s of Science degree and am pursuing a Green Belt Six Sigma certification. After completing both the degree and the certification, my organization is capable of being highly competitive to acquire new contracts due more professionally developed employees.

Job Experience

In order to gain more skills and knowledge in other areas outside of my current skillset would be to gain experience while on the job.  A major factor in gaining experience is the ability to quickly pick up and apply new information.  “To succeed in their jobs, employees must stretch their skills – that is, they are forced to learn new skills, apply their skills and knowledge in a new way, and master new experiences” (Noe, 2103).  In order to gain job experience, I have presented an action plan to my employer that outlines benefits to the organization and me on how cross-training with other departments will build organizational strength.

Relationships

“Employees can also develop skills and increase their knowledge about the company and its customers by interacting with a more experienced organization member” (Noe, 2013).  There are two ways employees can build relationships and strengthen organization performance: mentoring and coaching.  During my onboarding process with my current organization, I asked for a mentor to be assigned to me to assist in understanding all the specifics of our contract and to understand processes within each department.  The mentor I was assigned has a wealth of knowledge and was picked due to his experience and performance within the organization.  Unfortunately, my mentor knew his job very well and how to navigate through the departments, but did not interpret that information to me very well because he did not know how to communicate.

Assessment

Assessments are conducted to identify employee potential in different areas: managerial potential or just employee potential to thrive and benefit the organization by working in different jobs.  Assessments are conducted through surveys, questionnaires, knowledge tests, and observations.  When I approached my organization’s management about development plans, they asked me questions regarding the areas I wanted to gain knowledge on.  The intent was to ascertain if I had any knowledge in those areas to be able to assist me with making short and long term goals.

References

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Pace, A. (2010). Unleashing positivity in the workplace. T+D, 64(1), 40-44.

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Technology in Training

With the incredible technology increases over the past few decades, it is no wonder that technology has had a huge impact on how training is delivered.  “New technologies have made it possible to reduce the costs associated with delivering training to employees, to increase the effectiveness of the learning environment, and to help training contribute to business goals” (Noe, 2013).  This blog post will identify five training technologies that have had a significant impact and will continue to have in training and development environments.

Wikis

Wikis are websites that “allow many users to create, edit, and update content and share knowledge” (Noe, 2013).  The great benefit to using wikis is the simplicity for a learner to gather information and knowledge in a personal, informal setting, but can also be used in conjunction with a formal learning environment.  Collaboration between learners is another benefit to using wikis because learners can share and respond to posts “on an as-needed basis and as part of formal training courses” (Noe, 2013).  Learners have the ability to contribute to wikis in asynchronously as learners can post, update, or edit wiki posts in almost (you may need passwords) every environment with internet capability.

Basic Wiki Capability

Mobile Learning

Smartphones, tablets, and IPads provide mobile training environments for the learner in any place, at any time.  Learning no longer needs to be in a classroom or on a computer; instead many organizations and universities offer mobile learning through downloaded apps.  “The advantages of mobile learning include that it is an easy way to get up-to-date information to employees; it can be useful for enhancing transfer of training through providing follow-up; it bring training to employees who constantly travel, out of the office visiting customers or clients, or don’t have the time to attend a face-to-face course or program; and learners can complete training on their own time and place” (Noe, 2013).

Blended Learning

Blended learning combines both face-to-face and online learning or any other technology based training method.  Blended learning has multiple advantages over solely traditional face-to-face or online learning: 1) blended learning maximizes on the positives of each learning method and minimizes negative features of each, 2) blended learning provides increased learner control, allows for self-directedness, and requires learners to take more responsibility for their learning, and 3) blended learning environments can present material in a dedicated learning environment (Noe, 2013).  On the other side, instructors must be more hands on and realize time and organizational management will be at the forefront because of managing both learning environments.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is a technology that uses three-dimensional learning experiences by enhancing simulation to provide life like video movements through specialized equipment.  Virtual reality is very costly as the specialized equipment connects multiple senses through wires and devices to provide communication back and forth between the trainee and the computer.  “These devices allow the trainee to experience presence – the perception of actually being in a particular environment” (Noe, 2013).  The biggest advantage to virtual reality training is it allows the learner to conduct training without the dangers of actual training.  For example, the U.S. Army uses virtual simulators to provide training environments that are found on the front lines in the Middle East (Army Virtual Training).

Flipped Classrooms

Flipped classrooms is the process of taking the “instruction” out of the teacher hands and focuses more on the students working as a group in order to move away from being the receiver of information to being the provider of information through self and group learning.  Before class, students conduct self-learning by reading articles, watch discussion videos and then in the classroom, the group’s direct learning through discussions, debates, and presentations.  Morgan & Milsom (2015) state, “Students spend time before class not only reading the material but also engaging with it, allowing them to become more actively involved in their own learning both before and during class”.  The key to flipping classrooms is when students take ownership of their learning and teachers truly assess learning amongst the groups by properly designing an evaluation system through curriculum standards.  “Devoting class time to application of concepts might give instructors a better opportunity to detect errors in thinking, particularly those that are widespread in a class. At the same time, collaborative projects can encourage social interaction among students, making it easier for them to learn from one another and for those of varying skill levels to support their peers” (EDUCAUSE, 2012).

Flipped Classroom Explanation

Benefits of FLIP

 

References

n.a.  (2012). EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.  7 Things You should know about flipped classrooms.  EDUCAUSE Creative Commons.

Morgan, K., & Misom, A. (2015). The flipped classroom in counselor education. Counselor Education & Supervision, 54(1), 32-48.

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Southwest Airlines Needs Assessment

Commitment to Employees:

“We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer” (About Southwest, 1988).

Mission Statement:

Southwest Airlines is a customer satisfaction driven company that strives to provide the necessary resources and training for its 46,000+ employees to meet their mission statement:

“The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit” (About Southwest, 1988).

Strategic Objectives:

In 2013, “based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation’s largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers” using over 600 Boeing jetliners to transport over 100 million customers by making over 3,400 domestic flights a day (Southwest Corporate Fact Sheet, February 24, 2015). In fact, a December 2014 report showed that Southwest filled 83.9% of seats bringing over $5 billion in revenue (Southwest Corporate Fact Sheet, February 24, 2015).

Based on Southwest’s management’s philosophy, mission statement, and strategic objectives the focus of the requested needs assessment would be to first establish who Southwest’s stakeholders are:

• Employees
• Customers
• Shareholders
• Communities they serve (Green Team Initiative)
• Suppliers

The next step of the needs assessment would be to determine what top level questions to direct to management, employees (those who design and attend training), and customers during analysis planning phases (organizational, person, and task analysis).

  Upper Level Managers Mid-Level Managers Trainers
Organizational Analysis -Is training important to achieve our business objectives? How does training support our business strategy?

-What are the threats to our talent base?

-Do I want to spend money on training?  How much?

-How will training and development help meet my business goals?

-Are we retaining top talent?

-Do I have the budget to buy training services?

-Will managers support training?

Person Analysis -Do employees in specific functions or business units need training?

What do employees need to do to accomplish our business objectives?

-Who should be trained? Professionals? Core employees?

 

-How will I identify which employees need training?
Task Analysis -Does the company have people with the knowledge, skills, and abilities or competencies needed to compete in the marketplace? -For what jobs can training make the biggest difference in product quality or customer service? -For what tasks should employees be trained?

-What knowledge, skills, ability, or other characteristics are necessary?

Noe, 2013.

After the questions have been answered, the next approach would be to ask to see documents that support the employee direction with regards to customer service.

• Employee – Customer Relation Guidelines
• Reservation/Sales Techniques
• Employee Training/Performance Review Data (not individual but department aligned
• Employee Self-Management Guidelines
• Professional Development Guidelines

Once all the necessary information is pulled the next step would be to implement needs assessment techniques to ensure training provided is practical to the job description. Southwest aims to provide situational based training, but is it delivered in the most efficient way? Stolovitch & Keeps (2011) state “The infrastructure must permit access to the organization’s intranet from any location”. In addition the training provided must be current with Southwest’s and the FAA ever changing guidelines. “You must purge old content regularly to avoid the risk of learners accessing outdated instruction” (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011). There are a variety of methods to conduct a needs assessment for Southwest to “identify the tasks and knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required” (Noe, 2013). The best methods to use for this assessment would be: observation, questionnaires, interviews, online technology and documentation. The advantages for using these methods are the ability to minimize interruption of work, collection of data from a large employee base, interview questions can be tailored based off data provided from questionnaires, reduce the amount of money needed, and documentation can provide guidance to those newly hired. On the downside, interviews can be time consuming and difficult to schedule, documents must be up-to-date, and the questionnaires could return a lack of detail.

References:
Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

n.a. (1988). About Southwest Airlines. Retrieved from https://www.southwest.com/html/about-southwest/

Kelly, G. (2015). 4Q2014 Corporate Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://swamedia.com/channels/Corporate-Fact-Sheet/pages/corporate-fact-sheet

Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2011). Telling ain’t training. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

TRAINING!  WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK?

Does the organization you work for value your skill set?  Do you feel you or your organization could be better at expanding your skill set?

Consider the emotional connection you would have if I were to tell you Improved Employee Capability, Increased Productivity, and Reduction in Cost and Micro-Management are words you are going to use to describe the quality of your organization after a successful training program is administered.

A training program can boost an organizations weakness by focusing on bringing all employees to the same skill set level so the organization does not have to rely on a few particular employees to get the job done correctly.

“Training can play a key role in helping companies gain a competitive advantage and successfully deal with competitive challenges” (Noe, 2103).

Reference:

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Analyzing Scope Creep

“A project is primarily based on how well he/she manages the project’s triple constraint (project scope, cost, and time)” (Hans, 2013).

This week I am charged with writing about either a personal or professional circumstance that involved scope creep. In the following blog, I will briefly outline the project I was involved in, what scope creep issues occurred, and better ways management could have controlled the issues.

A few years ago I worked on a project that installed communication racks into military vehicles. Our project outsourced a few companies to create rack sleds and manufactured cables for the communication systems. Before the outsourced company began to make the gear we had requested to be made, our company built and tested a sled and requested cable to ensure the gear would properly fit and work before buying mass quantities to be made. After our engineer department tested the cable, the government wanted to change the design and cable length. Unfortunately, our company did not notify the outsourced company. The cables and sleds were produced, delivered, and then sat on the project’s shelves for a few years. Once it became time to field the sleds and cables, this issue hit our project square in the face. Needless to say, huge amounts of money and time were wasted and we could not produce when required. Kuprenas & Nasr (2003) state, Total cost management of a… project requires control of costs through all phases of a project, including the design phase”.

The first thing I thought of when I heard of the severe issue was, who is accountable? Portny et al. (2008) states, “Project success requires that project managers can count on the help promised to them by the people throughout the organization”. During the design and modifications of the sleds and cables, a couple of factors contributed to the scope creep. First the government decided it wanted to change the length and design of the cable, which ultimately changed the cost and timeline to produce the cables. Secondly, after the changes were made, the communication breakdown between government representatives and the engineer department contributed to the sleds and cables continuing to be made to the specifications of the original design. Lastly, after the gear was made and shipped, the QA and Technician departments did not test the cables.

It is easy to say now what should have happened when the government requested to change the design. The first thing that should have happened was the PM should have been notified immediately so he could have built the scope creep into an adjusted project plan. Bellenger (2003) states, Contact the client immediately if the scope changes during the project, explain why it is needed and why it is outside the original scope of services, and request written permission to proceed”. “In order to meet project plan goals, the PM needs help from multiple project team members (Portny et al., 2008). If the PM had been notified immediately, he could have redirected resources and personnel to drive the change thus meeting the costs and timeline.

Bellenger, L. G. (2003). Avoiding scope creep protects the bottom line. ASHRAE Journal, 45(10), 58. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/220432044?accountid=14872

Hans, R.T. (2013). Work breakdown structure: A tool for software project scope verification. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1308/1308.2876.pdf

Kuprenas, J.A. & Nasr, E.B. (2003). Controlling design-phase scope creep. AACE International Transactions. 1

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.

Resources for Estimating Cost, Effort, and Activity Durations Associated with ID Projects

For this week’s blog post, I was tasked with finding resources to help in estimating cost, effort, and/or activity duration’s associated with instructional design projects. Below are three great resources to help estimate those identified above and also some resources that help explain some of the main considerations when estimating cost, effort and duration of the ID project.

The first resource I bring to attention is probably a familiar website (Project Management Guru) that provides advice and support to specific project management (PM) questions. PM Guru was created by Ray Sheen to give insight to the world of PM through blogs, articles dealing with current trends in the field, and even consultation (which he promotes often on his site). Ray Sheen ties his prior military experience with his private sector experience in order to validate his wealth of knowledge. What I like best about this site is many PM tools and techniques from initiation of a project to the closeout of the project to even risk management. Ray also conducts seminars throughout South Carolina and Maryland and even in Shang Hai, China where he can provide consultation and training program support.

The second resource I would like to discuss is Clarizen. Today’s multimedia and social media markets have grown so fast to popularity unmatched, that it is no worry that a PM tool like Clarizen has been created. Clarizen “harnesses the effectiveness of social media to organize your team in the workplace. From within the application, you can form groups, plan projects, create assignments and even invite stakeholder participation” (Stevens, 2014). A great thing about Clarizen is that the company using it does not have to employ an IT team as Clarizen stores all information on the cloud. “All of the most important PM tools are included with Clarizen, such as the ability to manage requests, issues and bugs, budgets, schedules, reports, resources, documents, time tracking, and expenses. It also includes dozens of customizable reports and free email-only accounts for clients. Team members can monitor projects and submit time and expenses remotely from an iPhone or Android device” (Stevens, 2014). The only downfall that I can see about Clarizen is that as members conduct the work tasked to them to do, there is no feature within Clarizen to view what work is or has been conducted.

The Art of Effective Communication

This week I was tasked with reading, listening, and then watching a short video and then to share a synthesis of my thoughts regarding what the three methods of communication imply about communication within a project team. The three methods of communication (email, voicemail, and video) discuss Jane’s concern that she may miss a report deadline if she does not receive Mark’s input promptly. In this blog post, I will provide my interpretation of each form of communication, followed up with how these three similar but different communication techniques can help project team members communicate more effectively with others in the future.

Email

Jane’s email is a form of formal communication in the fact that it is “preplanned and conducted” (Portny et al., 2008). The email delivers Jane’s sincere concern when she asks Mark’s how long his report will take to finish in order for Jane to meet her report deadline. In her email, Jane establishes an eager attitude to finish her report while at the same time firmly ensuring Mark understands that he is holding her up.

Voicemail

While the voicemail does show a calm tone, Jane definitely seems more worried that Mark has not finished his portion of the report. Jane’s inflection gets higher when she says, “I really need an ETA on the missing report” which demonstrates a formal communication tone. Jane’s voicemail in my opinion is both formal and informal because even though her intent is to formally warn Mark of his actions thus far, a voicemail is informal in nature due to the fact that there is no way to track whether or not Mark heard or received it. Jane should “confirm in writing the important information that was shared in informal discussions” (Portny et al., 2008).

Face-to-Face

In the F2F video recording, Jane’s demeanor is definitely friendlier than the email and voicemail because she smiles more. Her face does turn to a more serious demeanor as she lets Mark know she may miss her deadline if he does not provide her with a portion or the whole report.

Lessons Learned

The “Art of Communication” lesson has provided a few valuable lessons to any member of a project team. The first lesson is no matter what the form of communication is (written, verbal, and/or non-verbal) everyone will interpret the form of communication differently. In this communication exercise, Jane is the “sender” of communication and Mark is the “receiver”. No matter what the tone and demeanor of the sender’s message is, the receiver is going to decode the meaning of the message in their own personal way. Understanding this concept, it is very important that the sender keep a message clear and concise and in a way to not offend or confuse the receiver of the message.

Another lesson learned from this communication exercise is any informal or verbal communication should always be followed up with a written message as Portny et al. states, “Clearly describe any actions that people should take… minimizing the use of technical jargon and acronyms… and to carefully document all action items developed at the meeting and assign responsibility for their completion”.

Reference

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