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Systematic Approach to Learning and Development

Many leaders in organisations assume that they already have good training for themselves and their workers. They feel that since they are able to answer their employees’ questions and are able to send them for training once in a while, then that is enough. The approach that is taken by managers to training is not intentional. This means that the approach is not logical, planned, and focused. However, the workers seem to be carrying out their responsibilities without difficulties or any problems (Argyris 1992).

Unfortunately the managers have not realized that they do not know what they do not know. It is possible for the employees to perform much better for the sake of the organisation if they had additional and more superior skills. It is possible for the managers and supervisors to spare a lot of time that is otherwise spent answering employees’ questions and trying to help them to carry out simple tasks. Addressing the issue acquiring better skills is an important responsibility of the management.

This is the rationale behind adoption of systematic approach to learning and development in organisations. This approach will ensure that the managers get most out of themselves and their subordinates and that have time to spare to carry out more tasks to improve the performance of the organisation. Learning and development is one of the key aspects of life and work, and needs to be taken seriously through conducting it in a planned and systematic manner (Rossi, Freeman and Lipsey 1998). Systematic approach to learning and development

In a world where everyone is assumed to be rational, the best way to make things work is by being systematic. This means doing things as per a plan or system or in a manner that is justifiable in terms of rationality, logic, or reason (Sims 1990). Organisations succeed through implementation of systems and procedures. Where there are no clear-cut guidelines, there is a possibility of an organisation disintegrating due to lack of structure. Generally, a systematic approach is methodical approach to problem solving, which can be evident in different spheres of human endeavour.

Systematic approach to learning and development can be defined as a methodical approach that is repeatable and learnable through a step by step process (Merrienboer and Kirschner 2007). Where learning is systematic, the process and the action are made easier and more effectual. A systematic approach offers a method that is possible: to check on the worthiness of what is to be done; find out the things that are practicable; get things organised and ordered well; utilise the resources efficiently; and discover the success and failure of the process.

A systematic approach to learning and development makes it possible to have a wide-ranging training process that stays focused on the needs of the organisation (Barth, R. et al. 2005). A systematic approach is a process that is carried out in stages to ensure effectiveness. The stages are: Needs Identification; Needs Analysis; Learning Design; Learning and Development Implementation; and Evaluation (Sadler-Smith 2006). Needs Identification This phase is also referred to as Learning Needs Analysis.

A training process cannot be successfully carried out without identifying the organisational needs for doing so. The learning and development practitioner seeks to identify whether the obtainable evidence proves that a performance issue really exists. This is the phase where both the managers and the employees work together to find out the issues that are facing the organisation and trying to find solutions for them (Pace 1994). When the needs of the organisation have been identifying, there is need to identify training goals.

These are the goals when achieved will provide the trainees with knowledge and skills that will help in meeting the needs of the organisation. During this phase there is also the identification of the time and duration of the training and who is supposed to attend the training. This means that care should be taken to provide the training to the right people for satisfaction of the organisation’s needs. Where the identifiable signs are sufficient to convince the analyst of the need for learning and development, there is proceeding to the next phase.

The results of the first phase include the identified training needs (Pace 1994). Needs Analysis This is where the analyst seeks to analyse the exact nature of the training need. For instance, there might be data collection through interviews, observation, and performance data among other sources. The data collected is collated and analysed in the most suitable manner. It is on the basis of this analysis that the precise nature of the need is realised and the possible solution sought (Sharkey 2006). The results of this phase can be expressed in various ways.

The most common way is as a statement of what the training result of any learning and development program designed in reaction to the identified needs might be at the personal, team, departmental or organisational level, together with some requirement of critical success factors. The result of this phase is an analysed learning need. The first and the second phase can be categorised together as a needs assessment phase (Timmerman 2009). Learning Design There is need to come up with a training system that once implemented will meet the training goals.

This is carried out on the basis of the evidence and the knowledge, experience, abilities and judgment of the practitioner. This process basically involves identification of the learning objectives. These objectives are the ones that culminate in achievement of the training goals. The training system should include the required resources, essential funding, required lessons, sequence of the lessons, and course content. The solution designed is aimed at addressing the training outcome identified in the preceding stage.

The result of this stage could be learning design specification that could include methods, media, strategies and implementation plan etc (Sadler-Smith 2006). Learning and Development Implementation This is the phase where the development or delivery of a training package is achieved. The package of materials and resources include such things like audio-visuals, training manuals, and graphics among others. The delivery of the solution is in form of a pilot program to make sure that it can be pinched for the perfect fit. The pilot program has all the resources and materials required for the project.

Without these materials and resources the solution cannot fit the needs of the organisation (Mosley 1998). The training package that includes delivery of the training, feedback from the support group, clarification of the materials, administration of tests and conducting of the ultimate evaluation is implemented. In this phase there can be administrative actions like scheduling, copying, billing learning and taking of attendance information, among others. The practitioner can implement the designed solution or offer guidance for others.

He trains or coaches on how to implement the solution or the proposed plan so as to meet the identified learning need. The result of this phase is some unconcealed effort to transform the knowledge, skills and attitude of the trainees. This is generally the aim of the learning and development system (Merrienboer and Kirschner 2007). Evaluation The training program should be evaluated before, during and after implementation to find out if it is working the way it is supposed to and to check whether it conforms to the need for which it was developed.

There is need to know how the solution has impacted on the organisation, and whether or not it has catered for the organisation’s needs that it was designed for. There is also need to put measures into place to evaluate the Return on Investment. During this stage, the evaluator is confirming not only the learning and development process itself, but the decisions reached in the earlier phases as well. The impact of the learning and development on the organisation is also evaluated, for instance, if the project has any impact in the workplace. Inquiries might be made concerning the effectiveness of the project and its outcome.

In the need for continuous improvement, the lessons learned through evaluation and reflection can be endorsed in other projects (Rossi, Freeman and Lipsey 1998). During the systematic approach to learning and development each of the phases garners results necessary for the next phase. For instance, the analysis phase gives training goals that are utilised by the next phase, which is designing of the training system. Design of the training system uses the training goals to come up with methods and materials from which the trainees can achieve the goals and objectives.

Basically, each of the phases offers continuing evaluation feedback to others so as to make the entire systems process better. The systematic approach to learning and development is an important process, which is well designed and implemented can offer satisfy training needs of the organisation. This is the reason why it is referred to as a systematic approach. The system cannot operate well without all the elements or components of the system (Timmerman 2009). Beneficial features Feedback One of the success factors of the implementation of systematic approach to learning and development is feedback.

This approach makes use of feedback to recurrently modify the learning and development process. From this point of view, the learning and development process is never finished. Therefore, even after a particular intervention the lessons that are learnt can be used for other processes in future. This means that the results of a particular process make the design and implementation of subsequent ones easier and less expensive for the organisation. Therefore, this approach may seem expensive and time consuming, but it is efficient in terms of time and resources in the long run (Timmerman 2009).

Complex interactions There is also recognition of the complex interactions of elements of the system. Every system is made up of components that interact with each other in the successful working of the entire system. When the systematic approach to learning and development, it is possible to recognise these components as well as understand their complexity and interaction. Continuous use of the process makes it even easier for the organisation in future implementations. It makes the process look less complicated.

These components only need to be understood by the specialists who are involved in the development of the system and not to the end users who are the learners (Sadler-Smith 2006). Framework The systematic approach has a framework that offers an invaluable reference for planning, supervising and staying on the target. All these aspects reverberate with existing developments towards performance management. This means that systematic approach is a necessary tool to management and its design and implementation might not be optional for any organisation that is aiming to succeed (Kaufman, Moss and Osborn 2003).

Holistic Learning and development system together with its processes are division of a bigger whole of the organisational policies. This means that like all other organisational policies, learning and development systems and its processes need to be taken seriously by the management. This makes its implementation easier within the organisation. While other projects and policies within the organisation are being allocated financial and other resources, learning and development systems cannot be left out. This makes design, development and implementation of the system easier (Merrienboer and Kirschner 2007).

Proven Systematic approach to learning and development is a tried and tested tool for establishing the needs, expectations, processes, and outcomes of learning and development. This means that organisations have enough prove to support the significance of this tool to learning and development. Once the organisation has learning needs, this is the most preferable tool to use in finding and implementing solution. It is a trusted and reliable process whose application in organisations is not debatable (Kaufman, Moss and Osborn 2003). Importance of the approach to organisations

Systematic approach to learning and development is founded on the assumption that organisations are ordered, consistent and conventional where plans once developed only require to be followed to the letter, if they have to be well executed. This means that successful implementation of systematic approach to learning and development is a clear indication of a successful and effective organisation. Organisations that do not carry out their operations systematically or in an ordered manner cannot manage to implement such an ordered system.

Therefore systematic approach to learning and development is clear indication of successful organisations (Thornton, Shepperson and Canavero 2007). Learning and development can be initiated for a lot of reasons for a single worker or a group of workers. After carrying out a performance appraisal, it might be identified that performance improvement is required. Once this need is identified, systematic approach to learning and development can come in handy to ensure that this need is met thus taking the organisation back to an operational level.

Even without a way of meeting this need, the organisation can still function, but not to its full potential. Another importance of systematic approach to learning and development can be evident when there is need to improve performance within the organisation. When the management is in need of improving performance of the employees, learning and development is necessary. This is because it will equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge required to achieve this objective (Kaufman, Moss and Osborn 2003).

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