Has Training evolved?

De-cluttering my archives, a sort-of  New Year resolution, I came across “The Best of the Training Journal. Key articles 1995-1999″. Unable to resist a peak at the recent past I put it in my to-read pile for a rainy day and wondered how relevant it would be today.

The topics for these articles were:

  • How to write training materials (March 1998) by Eddie Davis
  • A process for selecting training methods (December 1998) by Clive Shepherd
  • On-the-job Training (September 1997) by Mike Cannell
  • Emotional Intelligence: the new way forward (July 1999) an interview with Daniel Goleman
  • Running a successful learning centre (Jan/Feb 1999) by Karen Velasco
  • Herzberg – still a key to understanding motivation (July/August 1996) by Donald Cameron
  • Training and maintaining the virtual team (March 1999) by Shirley Pickering
  • Being appraised (May 1995) by Trevor Bentley
  • Influencing Skills (Jan/Feb 1996)  by Nick Heap

So has anything really changed over the last decade?

The article on writing training packages would stand up today in it’s general advice except that it doesn’t mention all the things we now take for granted. And the big difference is the internet. Creating e-books and PDF files or creating training packages for webinars or other interactive tools wasn’t a consideration in this article.

However in the second article. published the same year,we have a specialist in the use of IT and he produces cost comparisons between web-based, PC based, workbooks with video and audio support. and on-the-job and classroom instruction. So it seems that the use of technology was still considered a specialist area at the time.

The third article on on-the-job  (OTJ) training was written against a background of businesses cutting costs and reducing off the job training. The IPD (as the CIPD was then called) had published a report encouraging more OTJ training and this article was written by the author of that report.

The article on Emotional Intelligence (EI) is an interview with Daniel Goleman shortly after he published his second book “Working with Emotional Intelligence”. It’s basically a critique of traditional training methods but Goleman also concedes that EI is within the domain of personal or interpersonal skills. He argues that EI learning needs lots of repetition and practising models over several months otherwise it’s like “learning to play the piano in one lesson”. This is an interesting piece historically as Goleman talks about his collaboration with Richard Boyatzis and their work for the HAY group. Did we realise just how big the EI industry would get?

The fifth article on running learning centres is a good overview and a reminder of how they could and did contribute to employee development. I’ve seen learning centres in large companies but also seen them run down on cost grounds,  so that they become just drop-in centres where you can go on-line but without any personal. How many companies still provide learning centres?

The fifth article is about Herzberg’s two factor theory of motivation. The author is particularly keen to help managers understand the theory as he believes it helps them understand the links between loyalty and motivation. Do managers still learn about Herzberg (or Maslow)? What do managers and trainers understand about motivation?

The sixth article about training virtual teams is probably more relevant today with more globalisation. The author emphasises the need for soft skills as well as technical skills and recommends that training should begin in a traditional way and using psychometrics to help team members understand each other better. That’s certainly the approach I have used with virtual teams using MBTI Step 2 as pre-work. One thing the article doesn’t cover is cultural differences and that can be an interesting challenge!

Being appraised is what it says, a guide for people being appraised. and is a welcome change from the usual guides for managers and emphasises that appraisal should be for your benefit as well as the organisation. Still relevant today.

The last article is about influencing skills using a diagnostic model based on open systems theory. It covers interventions and transitions as well as contracting and I found it interesting and well worth a re-read.Whether organisations would invest in a 4-day skills course is a different matter in the current economic climate.

Overall an interesting dip into my archives and I could definitely still use some of the information and ideas. Technology has obviously moved on and the current economic situation has some influence although times were hard in the 90s too.

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