Competencies work but at a cost

first_imgCompetencyframeworks produce real benefits for companies but are painful to implement,according to the latest research from management consultancy William M Mercer.Thisstructured approach to job and performance appraisal helps nine out of 10individuals improve their performance and that produces better corporateperformance.But on thedownside people underestimate the cost, time and resources needed to set it upand there is often a lack of evaluation. The surveywas carried out for Competency and Emotional Intelligence magazine. It foundthat competency frameworks now cover 3.2 million people in 1,500 organisations.Respondentssaid it can be difficult to get buy-in from the board and the staff, and thatit needs to be easier to apply.Classicsigns of poor performance include people who blame others for failure, or makeassumptions without checking the facts, pass the buck, attend meetings in bodybut not in spirit and are secretive.Outliningthe results at an IRS seminar in London last week, Jim Matthewman, a partnerwith William M Mercer, warned against paying bonuses for proficiency ratherthan for excellence. Excellent performance resulted from being proactive andforward thinking.He said,“There is a lot of interest from chief executives in using the competency modelto create organisational change.” But he stressed that it was important tomeasure the outcomes if companies want continuing board support. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Competencies work but at a costOn 12 Dec 2000 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

What about the learner?

first_imgWhat about the learner?On 1 Jan 2001 in Personnel Today On-linelearning is fast and cost-effective, but the student’s aptitude, approach andway of thinking must also be taken into account, says Patrick McCurryHowimportant are individual learning styles to the success of delivering training on-line?As companies grapple with the potential of e-learning, there is growing debateabout how employees can get the best out of it, whether individual learningstyles are important and what preparation and support for learners is required.E-learningis being seen by some companies as a panacea for delivering training morecheaply, but this is a myth, according to Steven Phillips, who is responsiblefor corporate learning and development at Raytheon Professional Services.“Alot of organisations are looking to deliver low-level training via e-learningbecause they see it as a cheap option, but they’re not evaluating it or lookingat the impact on the learner,” he says.Employersare being offered a huge number of e-learning platforms and material by on-linetraining providers, says Phillips, and the result has been a “gold-rush” tolower cost delivery. “But many of these companies are not looking at issuessuch as the IT literacy or technical capability of learners.”Inan attempt to assess the learning styles of on-line students, training companyKnowledgePool has launched an on-line evaluation system, which it says exploresstudents’ strengths and weaknesses.PaulButler, KnowledgePool chief executive, says e-learning has mainly been a“one-size-fits-all” approach, but that mapping learners’ styles and psychologycan help them learn more effectively.Theevaluation is a 10-question assessment that rates various characteristics, suchas psychological styles, ranging from the cautious and precise approach of“cool blue” students to the competitive and de- manding style of what arecalled “fiery red” learners.Whilesome trainers argue that such evaluations are simplistic and of limited use indesigning training, Butler finds that they can help employers to tailor coursesfor the learning group. “For example, a company could decide that 70 per centof a training course be delivered on-line and the rest in a classroomenvironment.”PatriciaSwannell, head of instructional learning at Wide Learning, which providesfinancial systems training, says US research suggests individual learningstyles are secondary to how on-line training material is presented when itcomes to effectiveness.Resultsand retention“Studiesshow that training results and retention of knowledge are mainly down to goodpresentation, teaching and the student’s motivation,” she says.Sheadds that learners’ perceptions of how they learn best are often not related totheir actual performance, so asking people about their preferences may notachieve very much.Nevertheless,Swannell does modify courses depending on the learning group. “It’s importantto make the training lively and interesting. If I’m delivering training to agroup that includes graduates of languages, physics and so on, I’d probablyfirst use graphics or visual aids because that reaches most people, then textand finally perhaps, for the physics graduates, mathematical formulae.”Ate-learning company Acadamee, the way on-line training material is presented isvery important, says chief knowledge architect Kim Lafferty. Material isdivided into “need to know”, “good to know” and “nice to know”.“Wewant the presentation to entice learners to delve into different parts of thematerial by using lively graphics at the top through to more content-richmaterial further down,” she says.“Thisallows those learners who just want information to access that, while otherscan get an overview of the topic. For example, if a piece of legislation isbeing studied there can be extracts at the top and the material in its entiretyfurther down.”Academeehas signed up mind expert Tony Buzan to try to ensure that courses have thecontent and functionality to help the human mind learn and remember, saysLafferty. “He joined us because of our emphasis on being learner-friendlyrather than content-centric, and he’s keen to enable a larger audience, who mayhave been put off learning at school, to learn.” ButLafferty stresses that one of the most important things in any on-line trainingor learning is supporting the student in what can feel an isolating situation.“The biggest thing an e-coach can do is provide support and motivation, andthat could be a weekly e-mail to ask how the student is doing or a longerchatroom communication or, in some cases, a phone call.”ButIan Angell, professor of information systems at the London School of Economics,is sceptical about making e-learning content too focused on livelypresentation, particularly when it comes to education on-line. “I’m suspiciousof the ‘Disneyland’ school of education, where everything has to be fun becausethere are [bound to be] certain parts that are tedious and the student just hasto knuckle down and learn.”SimplisticHedismisses attempts to assess individual learning styles. “Fatuous profilesaren’t much use and [techniques such as scoring with] numbers to characterisepeople are simplistic.” He argues that e-learning is just one channel to teachpeople and should be seen in a wider context. Personal relationships withtutors and meeting people face to face are still extremely important, he adds.Supportfor the e-learner is also stressed by Tim Drewitt, world manager forprofessional learning services at Xebec-McGraw Hill. “Somepeople say technology-based training is not suited to certain learning styles,but in practice I’ve never heard of it being a problem. But you need to givepeople preparation and support for them to get the best out of it.”Preparationshould include asking the learner why they are taking the course and what theyhope to get out of it, he says. “This kind of preparation is standard practicein classroom-based training, but for some reason can be forgotten ine-learning.”LikeAngell, Drewitt believes e-learning often needs to be integrated with a widertraining approach. “It’s often good to incorporate some classroom activity oron-line chatrooms as well as on-line training so that those individuals whoprefer to interact can get that buzz.”CulturaldifferencesAnotherimportant issue in the debate on learning styles is cultural differences. ForRaytheon, whose clients include multinationals, there are problems if a companyexpects that an on-line course can satisfy the training needs to employeesspread around the world. Raytheon has staff in 46 countries who can adapttraining material to the particular local culture. “Manycompanies see e-learning as a way of rolling out training worldwide, but theyoften underestimate the cultural differences,” says Steven Phillips.Languageis one issue, he says, although English is fast becoming the preferredinternational business language. “But there are also  more subtle differences between cultures, such as currencies,legal frameworks, and working practices,” he says.Thedebate about how to get the best out of e-learning and how individuals can beprepared and supported in studying on-line is likely to continue. But it seemslikely that on-line learning will not turn out to be the simple, cheap solutionto organisations’ training needs that some companies have been led to believe.Thekey will be using e-learning as part of a wider training programme and ensuringthere is enough evaluation of how students are learning on-line, either throughon-line testing or conferences, and that they are able to transfer thatlearning to the workplace.Researchon learning stylesSomeeducation experts have argued that educational environments, such ase-learning, should be adjusted to reflect the learning styles of particulargroups of people.Butaccording to recent research by David Merrill of Utah State University,learning style is secondary in importance to an appropriate method of teachingthe particular material.InInstructional Strategies and Learning Styles: Which takes precedence?, he says,“Many research studies have demonstrated that, regardless of the learning styleof the student, when the goal of the instruction, measured by tests that areconsistent with this goal, are consistent with the strategies used to teachthis goal, then learning is optimal.”Peoplemay have different learning styles, says Merrill, but the basic way material isdelivered should not be affected by that. For example, someone withbodily-kinesthetic intelligence may learn to dance very well but be less suitedto learning maths or science.Nevertheless,whatever the kind of material, the outcomes are similar, such as acquiring aconcept, learning a procedure or understanding a process. “Whethera learner’s strength is logico-mathematical or bodily-kinesthetic… it is stillnecessary to have a definition, examples, non-examples and to practiseidentifying previously unencountered examples, in order to acquire theconcept.”Oneproblem, argues Merrill, is that too many instructors – live or technology-based– do not understand basic teaching strategies. In his opinion, therefore, muchof what passes for instruction is often inadequate. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Do IT specialists need HR qualifications?

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. “K”writes: I graduated with a BA (Hons) in European business with a financespecialism (there was no HR module at that time) in 1991. Since then I haveworked in several different industries and roles before moving into HR threeyears ago. I joined my present company as an HR assistant and am nowresponsible for all the HR systems and databases. I have developed our internalintranet site as the first point of information for all staff on benefits andpolicies and I also post all our vacancies on the external site. I have a greatinterest to continue with the IT and reporting side in HR but I have no formalHR qualifications. Should I?MargaretMalpas, joint managing director at Malpas, writes: Itcan be difficult to get a higher level job within personnel without gainingCIPD graduateship.  Most job adverts carry this as a requirement and itdoes show employers that you have been assessed as professionally safe topractise. The good news is that with your degree you may be eligible for apartial exemption from core management. Three years’ experience may offer achoice of taking a competency assessment route or a learning route. Eitherway, you could qualify within two years, and I would have thought that the timeand effort invested would be very worthwhile.VicDaniels, director at Carr-Lyons writes: Ialways say that studying for a CIPD qualification will certainly do noharm.  If you have the time, and arecommitted to being a HR professional, I would certainly recommend lookingseriously at a CIPD qualification, especially if you wish to pursue your HRcareer in a best-practice environment. Do IT specialists need HR qualifications?On 26 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Tesco takes jobs online to pull in extra 20,000

first_imgTesco has launched one of the UK’s biggest retail careers websites to helpit fill over 20,000 vacancies this year. The supermarket giant has taken its recruitment process online as a resultof its rapid expansion at home and abroad announced last month. The website contains information for potential employees, and includesfunctions to search for current vacancies and apply for selected posts online. It also includes information about working for Tesco as well as profiles ofbusiness functions and people. David Fairhurst, Tesco global resourcing director, said, “Our growthmeans we have a huge demand for new staff. Our new website means we can do moreto help job-seekers – speeding up our recruitment process to help boost ourteam.” According to Tesco, which employs 177,000 staff in the UK and 240,000worldwide, research shows that more than 14 million people in the UK can accessthe Internet at home and an increasing number of job-seekers are using the Web.The website fits with Tesco’s policy of actively recruiting over-50s bytargeting “silver surfers” who have been identified as using theInternet in increasing numbers. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Tesco takes jobs online to pull in extra 20,000On 2 Oct 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Claims for stress still rising

first_imgArisk assessment should be the cornerstone of any stress-at-work policy Therehas been a huge rise in the number of claims for stress, said chartered healthpsychologist, Dr Claire Welsh, in a paper on stress-at-work policies. Researchsuggests that one fifth of the British population is highly stressed at work,and the HSE estimates that 6.5 million working days are lost each year due tostress-related illness, despite a growing awareness by employers of theimportance of tackling the problem. Inher examination of why current stress policies are not working, Welsh foundthat there is much more to stress management than merely putting stresscounselling in place, as then it is often a case of “picking up thepieces”.Sheadvocated an integrated policy, tailored to the business needs of theorganisation, that wins the key stakeholders in the organisation over to thepolicy. OHshould adopt a partnership approach with other professionals in theimplementation of the stress policy, develop clear objectives and ensure thepolicy complies with latest legislation. Welshsays a stress-at-work policy should be well communicated to integrate itefficiently into the business, and monitored regularly to ensure that anynecessary amendments are made. Itwas vitally important to put risk assessment at the cornerstone of any policy,said Welsh, as it is only when we look at the causes of stress that it can bemanaged. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Claims for stress still risingOn 1 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Employees planning to stay put in 2003

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Employees planning to stay put in 2003On 7 Jan 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article UK employees will be less likely to switch jobs in 2003 than in previousyears, but they are looking to improve the quality of their working life in theshort term, according to new research from Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow. The study, conducted by the National Opinion Poll (NOP), reveals that only12 per cent of employees plan to move from their current companies next year,compared with an average employee turnover of 18.2 per cent in 2001. Surprisingly, although employees have decided to stay with their currentcompanies, nearly two-thirds did not mention hopes of a pay rise next year, and85 per cent are not expecting promotions. Chris Noon of Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow said: “The research hasrevealed staff are not expecting great financial rewards in 2003. A long-termapproach to planning has been rejected by most survey participants in favour of‘softer’ goals, which relate to their working lifestyles.” employee wish list– Better benefits– Avoid work-related stress – Take more advantage of any learning opportunities available– Spend more time at home or away from work – Plan more for the future (retirement, school fees, otherinvestments) – Promotion – Change working role within the company – Join a pension scheme last_img read more

HR short-changes female workforce

first_img Comments are closed. Female HR professionals are entitled to feel undervalued. A survey reveals that women in the sector earn significantly less than malecolleagues. How can HR tackle equal pay in the workplace if there is a damaging gap inour own profession? Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article HR short-changes female workforceOn 7 Jan 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img

Steel workers show Sir Brian the red card

first_imgSteel workers show Sir Brian the red cardOn 22 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Steelworkers in Corby held an hour-long lunchtime protest last week callingfor the resignation of the Corus chairman, Sir Brian Moffat. The Anglo-Dutchfirm – formerly British Steel – recently announced a loss of almost £400m forthe past year and hinted at plans to make job cuts. Members of the ISTC unionblame Moffat for the steel giant’s financial crisis. The company infuriatedunions earlier this month after announcing a new bonus scheme for directors,which operates regardless of whether the firm is making a profit. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

On the move

first_img Previous Article Next Article Tim Cowley has joined the London Borough of Lewisham as its new HR servicesmanager. He joins from Capita, and prior to that he worked as an IT recruitmentconsultant. In his new role, Cowley will be heading up the recruitment activityacross the South-East London local authority. The British Library has appointed Mary Canavan as its new director of HR.She joins the executive team and is responsible for the development andimplementation of a modernising HR strategy for the workforce of 2,500. She workedas head of HR at the London Borough of Havering for the past five years. Diane Ayres has been appointed HR manager at engine pump manufacturer,Concentric. She joins the West Midlands-based firm from Victoria International,where she was responsible for staff at eight different sites. She has vast HRexperience, having worked at companies including DSS, TSB, Honeywell Serck andLawrence Shaw Associates. On the moveOn 2 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

JD Weatherspoon founder readjusts work-life balance

first_imgJD Weatherspoon founder readjusts work-life balanceOn 7 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today The boss of one of Britain’s biggest pub chains has set off on a six-monthlong, unpaid sabbatical. Tim Martin, founder of JD Wetherspoon, will be away from his desk for halfthe year, and has said he is fulfilling a long-standing ambition. Martin will spend some of his time off travelling. The move follows closely behind Alan Milburn’s decision to quit the cabinetand spend more time with his family – and signals that the trend for increasedwork-life balance is now reaching the very top end of Government and business. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more