Human Resource Development
Learning plays one of the central roles in the modern human resource management. This paper examines the major learning styles and their implications. The training needs of organisation’s members can be different at various levels. The advantages and disadvantages of various training methods will be specified. The design of the training event for Coca-Cola Great Britain will be provided. The success of the methods used will be discussed. Finally, the role of the government in encouraging effective training will be clarified. The current measures and programs initiated by the UK government will be analysed. In general, the modern training requirements are comparatively high, and they should be addressed in a complex way at all organisational levels.
a. There are different learning styles and each of them is characterised by different activities and attributes demonstrated by learners. The activist learning style describes people who obtain knowledge and practical skills through acting. They are often involved in problem solving, role plays, and brainstorming practices. The theorist learning style stresses the need for comprehending the essence of a theory that explains one’s behaviour or actions. It is typically based on the use of statistics and precise models. The pragmatist style outlines the connection to the actual practice. It includes both discussions and case studies. The reflector style requires thinking and making sense of the observed events and processes. Interviews and questionnaires may be used for this purpose. Visual learners prefer seeing objects for understanding them (charts, diagrams, etc). Auditory learners would rather listen to the specific information (lectures or even informal communication). Kinaesthetic learners choose learning from experience (experiments may be relevant in this context).
Thus, the majority of learning styles orient to the active learning and the prevalence of practice over theory, with the exception of the theorist and reflection learning styles. However, they are very different in relation to the most effective method of obtaining knowledge. The activist learning style stresses the need for performing actual actions. The pragmatist style elaborates on the need for observing the practical results of one’s actions. The VAK styles specify different sensory systems for obtaining knowledge. Despite substantial differences, all learning styles recognize that the systematic approach towards one’s learning can lead to positive results.
b. The learning curve refers to the graphical representation of empirical relationships between one’s progress in learning and obtained experience. The former is usually presented in the vertical axis while the latter is presented in the horizontal axis. It is generally assumed that the learning curve should present the positive correlation between learning and experience. In other words, a larger amount of experience leads to a higher level of learning and vice versa. At the same time, this relationship is not typically linear. It means that the same amounts of experience may lead to different results in different stages of the learning process.
Nowadays, various mathematical models are used for describing different patterns of the learning process. For example, exponential growth may be applied to the rapid development such as IT or other hi-tech industries. The limit level of growth can also be established as the maximum degree that can be achieved under the existing circumstances. Various S-curves and other models can be constructed to present the potential growth in various spheres and occupations. It is also highly important to transfer all types of learning to the workplace. In other words, managers should understand the characteristics and role of various learning styles and relate them to the actual workplace tasks. The potential utility of learning styles should be evaluated from the perspective of their influence on the actual productivity and performance demonstrated by employees. It is reasonable to encourage learning to the extent until the marginal revenues exceed marginal costs.
c. To design the optimal learning event, managers should take into account the postulates of all learning styles and theories. The activist learning style should be used for involving all participants in acting in accordance with the selected principles. The theorist learning style is necessary for selecting the most relevant theories applicable to a given organisation. The pragmatist style helps to stress the pragmatic consequences of various learning strategies. The reflector style may allow encouraging the critical reflection on the learning materials. The VAK styles are necessary for adjusting the information to people with different sensory experiences.
Behaviourism is an approach that managers should use for designing the proper stimulus and receiving the desired responses. Both external and internal psychological aspects should be considered in this context. Cognitivism may also be helpful as it helps to understand the “black box” of learners’ mental abilities. Thus, managers should optimise the determined information processors. Constructivism explains how people may receive knowledge through interacting with each other. Managers should use it for creation of informal communication environments. The ultimate combination of all outlined styles and theories should determine the assessment of members’ learning preferences and needs.
a. The training needs of staff at different organisational levels are very different. The reason is that managers face different tasks at various levels. Correspondingly, they have to develop various skills for meeting the specific requirements. Parboteeah, Hoegl and Muethel state that team creativity and team cooperation are different in various levels. Operational level managers are mostly interested in obtaining knowledge and skills that can allow performing their narrow functions better and in a more productive way. Middle managers have to orient both to their functions and controlling the performance of other employees operating at lower levels. Senior managers are mostly oriented to the use of meta knowledge and developing competitive advantages at the strategic level.
Coca-Cola Great Britain utilises successfully different learning strategies at various organisational levels. The operational managers try to optimise their tactical performance in the context of addressing consumer needs more precisely. The middle managers try to integrate the performance of Coca-Cola Great Britain into the general system of the Coca-Cola Company as well as control the proper fulfilment of all their functions by operational level employees. They also make regular suggestions about potential improvement of tactical indicators for the operational managers. The senior managers are concerned with strategic problems of Coca-Cola Great Britain. Their goal is to determine the optimal strategic partners for strengthening their competitive advantages in comparison with the major competitors such as Pepsi. Coca-Cola Great Britain tries to adjust its learning priorities according to the emerging external and internal factors.
b. Although Coca-Cola Great Britain enjoys strong market positions, its training methods have both considerable strengths and weaknesses. The major advantages include the well-established formal and systematic approach, orientation to the specific market conditions in the UK, and utilisation of the latest training and learning techniques. Coca-Cola Great Britain uses the formal training methods developed by the Coca-Cola Company. As a result, it has a set of objectives for assessing the current level of qualification of its managers and the major spheres of further improvement. Coca-Cola Great Britain investigates closely the major trends in the UK in the context of emerging learning opportunities and challenges. A variety of modern learning techniques are used for developing the largest possible set of opportunities for managers in order to satisfy their diverse learning needs.
At the same time, the current training methods used by the company are non-perfect. Among the major disadvantages, one can notice the neglect of behaviourist aspects, the universal requirements to all managers of the same level, and the low development of creativity skills. Coca-Cola Great Britain does not evaluate properly the variety of preferences and needs demonstrated by its managers. It also uses identical requirements to the managers of the same level. Therefore, it is a disadvantage because various spheres and market segments deal with different consumers and competitors. Coca-Cola Great Britain does not develop to the necessary degree creativity skills of the operational and middle managers who work for them. As a result, their long-term career potential tends to decline.
c. Taking into account the above considerations, the following training initiatives can be introduced for new employees. First, it is recommended for Coca-Cola Great Britain to identify those employee skills that are of the highest demand under the current conditions. Second, the number of required employees should be specified. On the one hand, the number of employees should be sufficient for covering the existing market share and enabling the potential market expansion. On the other hand, the company should focus on the increase of productivity and other intensive factors rather than extensive ones. Third, the systematic approach developed by the Coca-Cola Company should be used. It means that those formal requirements that are universal for all units of the company in different parts of the world should be adopted. In this way, the managers may increase their qualification according to the major requirements present in the global world.
Fourth, the company should examine the existing market conditions in the UK and adjust the general requirements to the current market environment. All managers should orient to the needs of their local customers. Fifth, to encourage and enhance the effective training, all available modern technologies should be used. It refers both to maximizing the quality of knowledge and minimizing time for training. Sixth, the company should consider the behaviourist aspects of its managers. The training program should be adjusted to the needs and preferences of a given employee. Seventh, it is reasonable to diversify the requirements to the managers at the same level as they may work with different clients and suppliers. Finally, Coca-Cola Great Britain should encourage creativity decisions of the managers at operational and middle levels. Taking into account the above-mentioned aspects, the organisational structure may become more flexible, and the managers will be able to increase their qualification and enjoy higher career positions in the future.
a. In order to reach the stated objectives, it is reasonable to design the precise and effective evaluation plan. It should demonstrate the objective state of affairs and the progress towards increasing the qualification of the managers with the help of the designed training system. It seems that the following two techniques may be used for evaluation purposes. The first one is survey questionnaire. It may include both the questions verifying the changes of the objective level of knowledge and practical skills demonstrated by the managers and their subjective appraisal of the training process. The second one is the performance appraisal that refers to the analysis of the ultimate training effects on the basis of objective indicators.
Both techniques require different places where evaluation will take place. In relation to survey questionnaire, it is reasonable to organize it in the company’s training centre in the last day of training. In this way, the necessary information can be obtained and all participants can present their perceptions of the training. They can also express their considerations about the potential improvement of the training process. For this reason, some questions from the survey should be developed in an open form. The performance appraisal should be performed twice. The first one should be before the training to understand the actual level of the managers’ productivity and competence. The second one should be after the training. The difference between the indicators before and after the training will demonstrate the ultimate positive result achieved. It is reasonable to use the services of both internal and external experts while evaluating the training event. The internal experts may design the system of objective performance indicators that are applicable to the sphere of the managers’ responsibility. The external experts may design the proper system of questions that will assess the managers’ perception of the training events properly. It is also possible to use the services of independent auditors to assess the performance of the managers if it is necessary.
b. The following procedure should be used for evaluating the training event. In relation to designing survey questionnaire, it is necessary to consider the essence of the training system as well as the initial company’s objectives. The structure of questions should reflect the structure of the company’s objectives. At the same time, it is also important to investigate the managers’ subjective perception of the training process. It may include the perceived effectiveness of training, its consistence with managers’ worldview, and their eagerness to participate in such training events in the future.
The performance assessment should be performed in an unbiased way. The company’s experts should determine the system of indicators that may be used for this purpose (for example, they may include the managers’ productivity, the level of consumer satisfaction, and the dynamics of profits). Then, the designed indicators should be reviewed for all the managers of the same level twice: before and after the training event. Then, it is possible to assess the effectiveness of training not only in an aggregate way but also in relation to a given manager.
c. It is also important to review the effectiveness of evaluation methods used. It is evident that all evaluation methods are non-perfect and reflect only some aspects of the managers’ performance and training. Survey questionnaires have the following strengths. They are practical and allow evaluating significant sets of information. Moreover, they serve as a reliable basis for using the subsequent quantitative methods for structuring the obtained results. The bias can be excluded effectively in the process of evaluation. At the same time, some weaknesses also exist. Surveys are often insufficient for explaining all observed patterns of the managers’ behaviour. Their responses do not necessarily reflect their actual beliefs and life priorities. Moreover, different interpretations of the same questions are possible by different people. As a result, they may evaluate the problems and questions differently in comparison with researchers. The ultimate conclusions and recommendations are not always precise. Moreover, researchers also often make their implicit assumptions when designing the questionnaire.
Performance evolution also has their strengths and weaknesses. The major strengths include the orientation to the objectively defined indicators, the possibility of reviewing the observed dynamics over time, and designing the needed interventions. Performance evaluation allows avoiding researchers’ underlying assumptions and expectations. It may be applied equally to all managers without any exception. The major weaknesses include the imposition of the same standards on the managers operating in different environments, the neglect of other important external factors (such as the seasonal increase of demand), and the assessment of the managers’ performance exclusively from the perspective of the selected indicators. For example, some managers may demonstrate moderate performance because they invest in learning to be more productive and efficient in future periods.
a. The modern business world requires the constant assistance from eth government to maximise its potential. It is especially relevant in relation to lifelong learning because new business challenges emerge regularly, and it is necessary to be able to develop new innovative solutions. The government possesses unique resources as well as the ability to regulate the performance of other market participants. Therefore, it can influence the learning potential of the UK labour force. For example, Investors in People create appropriate conditions for people management since 1991. The organisation both assists with performance measurement through a system of objective indicators and provides the accreditation of UK companies. In this way, it contributes to their sustainable development as well as guarantees the quality of management practices and learning programs for third parties.
National Vocational Qualifications are one of the major awards in the UK in the sphere of training and learning. All candidates have to demonstrate that they meet all requirements and provide the highest qualification of its staff. Moreover, they have to show the regular progress in their training and learning practices. In this way, the UK government encourages competition among organisations and implementation of the relevant innovations. There are different levels of National Vocational Qualifications. Thus, the managers at all levels (from basic activities to senior management) can receive the recognition of their achievements. In general, the UK government helps to promote lifelong training and learning.
b. The competency movement initiated by the UK government has a serious impact both on the private and public sectors. The private sector tends to become more competitive and innovative. Moreover, the major focus of innovations is on employees and managers rather than technologies. People are viewed as a major asset that can generate the maximum possible amount of profits and revenues for any modern organisation. Private companies are more open to investing in lifelong learning as they realise that it is the only way of remaining competitive and profitable.
Organisations from the public sector have also adjusted their operations although the rationale for their strategies is different. These organisations are not concerned with profit maximisation but with arriving at the sustainable development in specific industries and addressing the major consumer needs in the most effective way. They rely heavily on the latest government’s recommendations and try to introduce a more objective system of employees’ and managers’ knowledge assessment. Organisations from the public sector are highly interested in fulfilling all accreditation requirements to enjoy the sustainable growth and development. Finally, organisations from both the public and private sectors tend to cooperate with one another more actively than before. The government programs have demonstrated that they have the significant scope for the mutually beneficial cooperation.
c. The recent initiatives of the UK government are also highly important for Coca-Cola Great Britain. The company is aware of all additional opportunities that emerge due to the government programs. The company’s top-management is highly concerned with the major accreditation requirements as the company pays the majority of attention to promoting its reputation in the UK. Thus, it is crucial to meet all requirements and demonstrate that management and learning practices in Coca-Cola Great Britain exceed those of its key competitors. However, the company is focused not only in obligatory accreditation requirements imposed by the UK government; it also tries to determine the major HR trends and the ways of improving its performance.
In particular, the company is interested with both direct and indirect methods of increasing the effectiveness of its HR practices. On the one hand, Coca-Cola Great Britain creates the proper conditions for employees’ and managers’ professional development. On the other hand, it implements the most effective forms of control that encourage self-discipline and motivation. It tries to create the environment that supports the constant learning progress of all individuals, and the government’s recommendations are highly relevant in this context. As the government possesses high opportunities in determining the major strategic learning priorities, they may be used by such market leaders as Coca-Cola Great Britain. The company does not only develop according to the framework designed by the government but also aims at forecasting the future trends and challenges.
It seems that the UK government should provide financial assistance to those organisations that demonstrate a sustainable learning potential but lack funds for implementing all their projects. In this way, small companies can implement innovations that may be subsequently used by other organisations. The UK government should also allocate a more active role to learners and do not treat them as passive objects. Finally, the UK government should coordinate its strategies with other government to implement the global learning and HRM initiatives.