Effectiveness Of Different Development Activities In Improving Personal Performance

Kirkpatrick Model

The Kirkpatrick Model is the worldwide standard for evaluating the effectiveness of training. Using this model, businesses can improve on the personal performance of employees.

The Kirkpatrick Model uses 4 levels to measure how a personal respond to training through evaluating if the training has had a positive impact on the employee and organisation.

“The Kirkpatrick Model considers the value of any type of training, formal or informal, across four levels. Level 1 Reaction evaluates how participants respond to the training. Level 2 Learning measures if they actually learned the material. Level 3 Behaviour considers if they are using what they learned on the job, and Level 4 Results evaluates if the training positively impacted the organisation.”

 

Johari window 

Whilst researching the Kirkpatrick Model, I discovered another model called the Johari window. Although this isn’t directly a model to explain different learning styles, it does assist individuals in better understanding their relationship with themselves and others. By understanding this model, individuals can improve their approach to problem solving, learning, or discovery. It is also useful in group learning activities.  

“The philosopher Charles Handy calls this concept the Johari House with four rooms. Room 1 is the part of ourselves that we see and others see. Room 2 is the aspects that others see but we are not aware of. Room 4 is the most mysterious room in that the unconscious or subconscious part of us is seen by neither ourselves nor others. Room 3 is our private space, which we know but keep from others.”

Open or Arena: Adjectives that are selected by both the participant and his or her peers are placed into the Open or Arena quadrant. This quadrant represents traits of the subjects that both they themselves and their peers are aware of. 

Hidden or Façade: Adjectives selected only by subjects, but not by any of their peers, are placed into the Hidden or Façade quadrant, representing information about them their peers are unaware of. It is then up to the subject to disclose this information or not. 

Blind : Adjectives that are not selected by subjects but only by their peers are placed into the Blind Spot quadrant. These represent information that the subject is not aware of, but others are, and they can decide whether and how to inform the individual about these blind spots.

Unknown: Adjectives that were not selected by either subjects or their peers remain in the Unknown quadrant, representing the participant’s behaviour’s or motives that were not recognized by anyone participating. This may be because they do not apply or because there is collective ignorance of the existence of these traits.”

Using learning techniques can help individuals, their managers and mentors to expand their learning ability by using methods which they may not previously have known existed, or which they did not think applied to them. Not just in a practical ability, but also in a psychological one. 

Once these techniques are understood and implemented they should lead to a more “rounded” learner.

How Development Activities Are Prioritised For Personal And Professional Development

Prioritising personal and professional development depends on a number of factors. 

Initially, it is necessary to decide which areas are urgent, as to those which are important. A person taking on a completely new role may need to be trained in a specific area before they can be left to carry out the role unsupervised. It may also mean that staff shortages, perhaps for illness or a general lack of available labour, mean that the PDP needs to be revised to suit the organisations requirements. 

A very basic example of this in my own business sector would be that any member of staff required to go onto an active construction site would need to be trained in the relevant procedures of CSCS of CSCS to prove they have the training and qualifications required to carry out their job. This would be before they were even allowed to commence training as an Asbestos Operative, so CSCS training would be an urgent requirement over important. 

In perhaps a more complex example, it may be decided that an Operative has good potential to move onto a Supervisor role, which occurred recently in my company. It was therefore important to us to focus on the long term objectives for this employee which involved him receiving more complex training over the period of a year whilst working closely with the management team as a group of experienced mentors. 

The day-to-day pressures of the working environment as well as meeting deadline means that personal professional development may have to be reorganised to adjust for the priorities of an organisation. Factors outside of work may also have an effect on the prioritisation of a PDP. 

Overall, activities need to be prioritised in terms of reasonable achievability within the organisations objectives. 

How To Implement A Personal Development Plan (PDP)

There are 3 main considerations with implementing a personal development plan (PDP). These are: 

  • putting aside some protected time to reflect and take stock away from distractions
  • being systematic, writing a plan and regularly reviewing it over the course of the year
  • finding at least one person who can act as a ‘critical friend’ to look objectively at the plan

However, there is much more to implementing a successful personal development plan that just these three points. 

When planning personal development, we need to look at an employee’s previous experience, their current requirements, the organisations requirements, and what else might be required for them to progress and develop into an organisation and roll.

Managers should also consider the future of an employee and how the plan can be developed to assist them in promotion within the organisation.

It is important to schedule training, mentoring activities or own learning programs in accordance with the organisations objectives.

Once the personal development plan has been agreed, goals should also be agreed so that progress can be monitored.

Managers can provide constructive feedback to assist the employee in building a solid plan that focuses on the required targets, perhaps by using SMART targets.

Items to consider in a Personal Development plan

There are various items to consider when developing a plan, the main areas to consider are:

  • training – what does the employee need to understand to meet the plan’s objectives and increase their knowledge
  • mentoring – on-the-job advice and support from someone who has already worked in the targeting role can be extremely useful
  • priorities – what are the most important aspects of the plan that will assist the employee to progress at a reasonable and achievable rate?
  • deadlines – ensure that achievable deadlines are set to track progress
  • understand strengths and weaknesses – particularly useful when considering training needs

Review the Personal Development Plan regularly

As well as drawing up a detailed plan, it’s important to set dates to achieve goals, and if not achieved, modify the goals accordingly to ensure that the PDP remains on course. 

Managers may need the assistance of a mentor or a more senior manager to agree that a plan is achievable and on course, and to provide additional support if required. It may also be necessary to share the PDP with these members of staff to ensure that they understand the requirements for the employee’s plans.

It may be useful to keep a journal and/or evidence of achieved standards, as these may be required as evidence for future training or promotional opportunities. This can be as simple as a long with dates, goals achieved and any other important achievements made throughout the period of the plan.

How Different Learning Styles Contribute To Personal Development Planning

Some years ago, a new Chairman was appointed at a company I worked for. He knew very little about the employees of the company. One of the first things he did was to employ a company to test each employee so that he could grasp who each person learned new information. I now know that this was a learning styles test, very similar to the ‘Index of Learning Styles’ (ILS) developed by Barbara Soloman and Dr Richard Felder. 

The ILS separates an individual’s learning style into 4 dimensions so that they can better understand how they learn and how to get the most from learning new information. 

Once you know where your preferences lie on each of these dimensions, you can begin to stretch beyond those preferences and develop a more balanced approach to learning. This can help improve our learning effectiveness and open ourselves up to many different ways of perceiving the world.

In my case, I can see that I am generally balanced in the way that I prefer to learn new information, with the exception of the 4th result which shows that I prefer to see the bigger picture initially and then fills in the details later. This means I may struggle to learn when information is presented in a linear fashion. I agree! However, this could have a negative effect for me when planning professional development as I may concentrate too much on the end goal and not on the details of how I intend to achieve it. 

The diagram on the following page explains the different learning styles. 

It is important to consider how someone learns when developing a personal development plan. This may be by presenting information in a way that suits an individual’s learning style or providing additional training to help an employee improve their learning capability in areas where they may not be confident.

My ILS test results

 

How To Develop An Effective Personal Professional Development Plan

When planning a personal professional development plan, both employees and employers need to look at a number of points which they can do so by asking a set of questions. 

    • How is the current role progressing? 
    • Are there any ongoing issues? 
    • Is the employee being used to their full potential? 
    • What additional training is required
    • Does the employee have aspirations to move into a more senior role? 
    • What are the thoughts of the employees’ mentor (if applicable)?
    • What other areas need improving? 

These areas are best split into 3 stages: 

Stage 1 – Personal Analysis 

The first stage is designed to analyse the strengths and weaknesses.  We can draw heavily on previous career experience and the outcomes of courses previously attended. These should be supplemented by the perceived opportunities that will have been derived from experience and any ‘threats’ to continued success. 

Stage 2 – Setting Goals

This involves setting new and clearly definable goals which are measurable either through the support of a mentor, manager, or perhaps using individual personal aims. These goals should include the company’s adjectives.  

Stage 3 – Personal Objectives 

This stage involves setting out personal objectives. 

Once the areas for development and improvement have been identified, it is possible to develop a personal development plan to put into action

Value of Professional Networks and Bodies in Professional Development

Professional networks 

Throughout my career, I have needed to build various professional networks, and these networks have been vital in ensuring the growth of any company that I have worked for. Such networks bind together the people that we deal regularly, from suppliers right through to the customer and help us achieve our goals. 

Professional networks can help managers and their organisations realise new opportunities with an existing part of a network, or perhaps forge new relationships through recommendations and professional references. As these opportunities develop, so can the roles of employees as new contracts are won or sales increase. 

Networking can assist organisations and their employees in discovering groups and opportunities within their own sector, for example new suppliers, customers, and distributors. At the same time, networking gives individuals and organisations to become discovered by others who may not previously be aware of their existence.  

For these reasons, professional networks are extremely valuable as a tool in personal development and should not be overlooked. 

Professional bodies 

Professional bodies offer a number of opportunities to organisations. According to construction analyst Brian Green, professional bodies get status, improve chances of promotion and tie into a network of fellow professionals, as well as sharing regular information to ensure that the understanding of key issues in a profession are kept fresh.9 

In my own organisation we are expected to be members of a number of professional bodies. In fact, many principal contractors will not even consider us to tender for new contracts unless we are members of certain professional bodies which may provide confirmation that we conform to a minimum standard in health and safety, or perhaps a standard in customer service. Such organisation also provide elements of professionalism to customers and business partners.

 

The purpose and benefits of carrying our risk assessment when managing work activities

A Risk Assessment identifies areas where there could be the risk of an accident, and puts in place measures to either completely prevent and accident or reduce the risk of an accident occurring. 

A Risk Assessment may also look at other areas of health and safety, for example, identifying employees at risk of stress, sunburn, noise exposure, chemical burns, working at heights, etc. 

The benefit of a Risk Assessment is that accidents are reduced, along with injuries and deaths. They also help to reduce litigation in the event of a workplace injury. 

In addition, risk assessments assist productivity, can result in happier and healthier employees, save money over time and provide a position company image. 

My companies approach to safety consulting and accident prevention is founded on the zero-accident philosophy, the belief that workplace accidents are:  

  • Predictable 
  • Preventable 
  • Unacceptable  

The guiding principle in this philosophy shapes the creation of solutions to predict and prevent accidents and establish an organizational culture in which accidents are viewed as unacceptable. Within my organisation, employees build on the zero-accident philosophy, proactively addressing potential hazards before losses can occur. The zero-accident philosophy has proven to not only enhance employee safety and well-being, but also to increase morale, productivity, and work quality, and to decrease accident-related expenditures. 

The Impact of Health and Safety Legislation in Carrying Out Work Activities in an Organisation

In my industry (asbestos removal and management), health and safety forms a large percentage of the work methods which we employ. 

Health and safety legislation is designed to clear set out what is and is not acceptable in any UK workplace, whether that may be in an office, a factory or demolition site. It is designed to protect workers and the public from the risk of any type of injury and provide a legal basis for any litigation in the event of a breach of the legislation. 

Therefore, health and safety legislation forms a part of all businesses. 

In my own business, there is a significant amount of cost related to health and safety. Our staff must be fully trained in asbestos removal when working on site. The cost of this training (and annual retraining) along with the cost of specialist respiration equipment can easily run into thousands of pounds per employee. Then there is the additional cost of certification for training for working at height, for operation machinery such as forklifts; the list sometimes feels endless. Add these costs to the costs of specialist equipment such as negative pressure units and health and safety legislation can have a huge impact of the companies cashflow. 

In addition, health and safety legislation can impact the requirements for administration on the business. Every contract requires a specific set of Risk Assessments and Method Statements which described exactly how each contact will be conducted from start to finish. This requires a considerable amount of manpower and various other systems to administer. 

Health and Safety requirements also reduce the company’s exposure to litigation and are a requirement for our Professional Liability and Indemnity Insurance.

 

 

The Need to Regularly Review Organisational Health and Safety Policies and Procedures 

It is important to review a health and safety policy regularly (my company sets a revision date 12 months from the date of the current Health & Safety Policy) and revise it if and when new legal requirements come into force or new information is available which require new training for employees pending the introduction of new machinery, processes or substances, as necessary. 

Within my organisation, it is the responsibility of the Managing Director to manage and review the organisation health and safety policy, which she does on a weekly basis within close liaison with the Health & Safety Executive. 

The Process of Developing an Operational Plan for an Organisation

There are several important key areas to consider when developing an operation plan and all of them must be considered before the plan can be put into place. An operational plan must take into consideration the organisations strategic plan.

In my experience, there are 5 core areas to consider when putting together an operation plan. These are:

By consulting all stakeholders within the organisation and identifying the organisations targets and how we are going to achieve them, we can ensure that we have specific goals or objectives to achieve whilst insuring that those objectives are relevant and achievable. Managers can then use systems to measure whether the organisation and its employees are heading in the correct direction to ensure that the plan is on course to be achieved within the agreed or desired timescale, such as key performance indicators or staged targets (as discussed in Unit 3).

When developing an operation plan, we must ensure that we set objectives which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART), especially when forecasting progress.

 

Short Term Priorities

Short term priorities are those which are required for the day-to-day running of the organisation, whilst at the same time looking to achieve the goals of the strategic plan.

Short term priorities in operational planning are those when there may be limited resources, and therefore the organisation will be looking to make the most of those resources over the next planned period, usually 12 months.

 

 

Goals

When developing our operational plan, our goals help us aim towards to achieving the objectives of the strategic plan. The goals may be single or multiple and stages over a short, medium or long-term period and will form part of our SMART targets.

Goals should be clear and concise.

 

Initiatives

Our initiatives within operational planning can form part of our goals. They may include such items as:

  • Recycling a minimum of 95% materials
  • Achieving a carbon neutral status
  • Allow employees more time to focus on professional development
  • Improving customer satisfaction feedback levels
  • Achieving a 0% accident rate

Out initiatives can be measured using KPIs and should be realistic and achievable.

 

Core Functions

Core functions are business functions that are critical, and closely related, to a firm’s strategy expressed in customer service, marketing, product design, etc. Routine administrative and maintenance tasks are not a part of core activities.[1]

 

Budgets

Do we have the money to achieve what we want to achieve? Will we have enough cashflow to survive whilst we work towards our goals? Can we afford to buy and maintain equipment? These are just some of the questions that managers need to consider when building an operational plan and managers need to be certain that each action and that the organisation has or will have the capacity to provide the required resources.

 

 

References:

[1] http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/core-activities.html

How the Interdependencies in Work Activities Impact on Operational Planning and Implementation

There are three main types of interdependences in an organisational structure: pooled, sequential and reciprocal (shared). 

Pooled interdependence is defined as two or more entities being mutually dependent on each other. Such examples may include sharing knowledge and expertise as part of a team, or working with a co-worker to complete a specific project. This interdependence can impact operational planning by ensuring that the right people with the relevant skillsets are placed together. In contrast, the operational plan can be detrimentally affected if the wrong people are placed together. 

Sequential interdependence occurs when one unit in the overall process produces an output necessary for the performance by the next unit.7 An example of such an interdependence is a car assembly line, where it is vital that the previous part of a vehicles assembly has been carried out before the next can commence. Operational planning in this exampling would need to ensure that the correct procedures have been put in place to ensure that the production can be carried out without delays. Are there enough parts in stock in the warehouse? Can the supplier keep up with demand? Are the correct tools in place to allow assembly to take place unhindered and on time? Failure to consider these basic requirements in the operation plan could result in delays in manufacturing and orders now being delivered on time. 

Reciprocal interdependence is similar to sequential interdependence in that the output of one department becomes the input of another, with the addition of being cyclical.8 It can be thought of as a chain where constant interaction is required. This can be particularly the case in R&D organisations where one area of the business is reliant on others sharing information, and equally an area of the business can be adversely affected if the operational plan is not adhered to and rules or systems change without prior discussion. In this case, the chain can be broken. If a football team fail to constantly interact with each other, they lose control of the ball.