A Skills Development Plan ensures you get the talent you need. How often have you heard "Our production people need to work smarter and harder" or "Managers need to empower their people.” What do these observations mean in terms of human performance? What must operators actually do differently in order to work "smarter and harder"? What must managers do better and differently in the future if people are to be "empowered"?
In the previous blog, we discussed the first pillar of a Workplace Skills Development Plan, which is the strategy and the importance of aligning learning & performance initiatives with the business needs of the organization. The goal is to drive results by matching business needs with job performance needs and effective learning solutions. To re-cap here are the steps of a Workplace Skills Development Plan:
- Corporate and Departmental Objectives
- Assessment & Individual Performance Objectives
- Learning Solutions
- Business and learning impact assessments
The second pillar is the end-user assessment and establishing individual performance objectives. Individual performance objectives are the on-the-job behavioural changes that employees need to exhibit in order for corporate objectives to be met. Individual performance objectives answer the question:
What do workers need to do better or more efficiently in order to resolve an existing problem or to exploit a potential opportunity?
Let's consider a couple examples:
TASUS is a manufacturer of labels and dimensional graphics in Hamilton with 90 employees. At TASUS, supervisory skills are a corporate priority. The performance change desired is to improve employee development, as well as acquire better supervisory skills to manage difficult situations in the workplace.
Although performance assessments are typically identified at the senior decision-making levels, it is useful to be more inclusive when seeking to improve on-the job behavioural changes.
"Looking at the supervisory competencies at TASUS, we asked the supervisors to self-assess their skills but also consulted their peers and managers for feedback and recommendations" mentioned Karen Dunn, TASUS HR Manager, "it became the foundation for our in-house 38 weeks Supervisory Learning Plan, which combined on-line learning, practical role-playing simulation and on-the-job coaching activities."
Conestoga College, based in Kitchener, Ontario, is working with manufacturers to conduct technical skills assessments for production workers. "The first step is to look at the job and the required competencies. We used tools to assess the technical and mechanical skills such as the CMN Portal to identify the skills gaps of operators & mechanics" said Mike Diamond, Manager - Engineering, Technology and Trades Training, and added "the end-user assessment combined with interviews with HR and/or production managers is essential before going forward with a training solution".
Once the individual performance objectives have been established, the next step in the alignment process is to identify the learning solutions: what are the skills, knowledge or attitudes that employees must improve in order to achieve the required individual performance objectives? Knowledge and skills can include hard skills (using equipment/technology applications, project management, etc.) or soft skills (diversity training, communications skills, coaching skills, etc.).
The next blog will be on the Learning Solution & how to facilitate and deliver a training program using today's technologies. This could take a formal approach, where employees receive training through a structured process (online learning or traditional group-based, including blended solutions) or informal approach where employees are involved in coaching, peer collaboration and on the job training activities.