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How Do You Spot Group Training Needs?

The priorities attached to tasks in job descriptions will indicate to workers what they should attend to and what might be left to slide until the next day if everything cannot be done. Gaining an understanding of the time demands and priorities of tasks can help the worker learn to allocate time properly across the numerous areas that demand attention.

Can you spot and group the needs of your employees? Find out how by starting with your job description.

For spotting group training needs the job descriptions of employees within an organization will indicate interaction requirements with other employees. Job descriptions will identify exchanges of information and material among positions. They will identify who is involved in given resource flows. They will show a variety of aspects of interfacing among employees. Employees involved in exchanges frequently need to be trained, as a group, relative to interface issues. People who work together must be trained together. If people work independently they can be trained individually but the usual case is for workers to be interdependent. They must be instructed as a team relative to those matters that link them.
 
For guiding cross training and transfers.
 
Employees in an organization often seek lateral transfer because of changing work interests or possession of a growing body of talent they perceive might better be applied elsewhere. The job descriptions for other positions sought by employees in transfer can be studied by them.
 
From such study employees can identify their strengths and weaknesses relative to other possible positions and can make intelligent choices as to which positions to aim for. The job description of another position selected can then be used by the employee to help in self-preparation for the position. The employee may want to enroll in courses provided outside the organization to develop skills that are necessary for the new position. Or, the employee may wish to observe, in person, the actual execution of certain tasks performed by a competent person in the type of job to which he or she aspires.
 
For career identification, constructing job ladders, and guiding career development.
 
Jobs at different levels in an organization can be arranged into vertical families that consist of a set of functionally similar jobs connected serially from the relatively simple to the complex. Establishing such families allows workers to identify career paths—eventually, paths for job progression. Analysis of the job descriptions of the jobs in career paths helps workers properly prepare for advancement. The set of job descriptions that shows the design of the jobs in a family gives workers direction over time. These job descriptions help eliminate haphazard, trial-and-error, search-and-find type behavior for workers as they move upward through their careers. They make vivid the kinds of training one must pursue to qualify for movement along the job progression path.
 
For identifying who should participate in a given training program.
 
Job descriptions consisting of like tasks can be clustered together. For example, job descriptions that require similar types of tasks to be executed indicate those workers needing similar types of training. The employees filling the jobs depicted by the clustered job descriptions can be identified and then brought together for training as a group. If the organization is to invest in upgrading a certain worker's skills, it may be worthwhile to spend some time to spot other workers with similar skill requirements and to include them in the training. This reduces per person training costs since one-on-one training is generally cost prohibitive.
 
For evaluating the success of training.
 
The job description allows management to see vividly what task behaviors in which the employee should engage and, therefore, aids management in designing ways to measure performance. The true test of the success of a training effort is the degree to which it causes relevant task dimensions to be pursued and the level of performance along these task dimensions to increase. Monitoring worker performance with the job description and a derivative performance level assessment device, before and after a training program, will tell you the quality of the program.
 
For orienting new supervisors on what their subordinates and bosses do. One of the first things new supervisors can do is to learn what their subordinates and superiors do. Effective supervision requires high interaction with many people at varying levels. Quality interaction with another employee can occur only when you understand and appreciate the nature of the role played by that employee.
 
Supervisors must plan, organize, actuate, and control the performances of their subordinates. This necessitates complete and accurate knowledge of subordinate roles. The job description is the supervisor's best initial guide in acquiring this knowledge. Supervisors must also respond to the initiatives of their bosses and provide help to their bosses. In order to do this successfully, they must also understand what their superiors’ commitments and responsibilities are. Job descriptions can transparently provide clues as to what these roles are like for everyone in an organization.
 
For designing specific types of training programs or curricula.
 
Training programs that involve role playing, work simulations, case analyses, and such can be properly established only by building such exercises around the real demands on the worker; the job description tells what those are. For role playing to be relevant and worthwhile, employees ought to play roles that closely relate to their real work worlds. Job descriptions allow the trainer to establish such roles. Similarly the job description tells what kinds of simulations are valid. For example, if the employee is expected to drive a truck on the job, video computer simulations can be used to help the employee improve reaction time. Case analyses, as well, are best when cases approximate the real worlds of work. The job descriptions of trainees will indicate the kinds of issues cases should cover to be relevant for class discussion. The job descriptions for a career path can serve as the basis of design for an entire training curriculum which progresses from the elementary to the advanced.
 
For occupational counseling.
 
Not all employees will be successful at the jobs for which they are first selected. Organizations make selection mistakes. This may show up early; sometimes it may be months or a few years before both employee and organization sense a mismatch or that a better opportunity exists within the organization (or outside the organization) for the employee.
 
Job descriptions representing different jobs within the organization may be consulted by the counselor and employee in attempting to spot a better position for the employee. Job descriptions acquired from industry or employment-oriented agencies or associations covering various jobs outside the company can also be reviewed by employees. In doing so, this can provide direction to the employee in landing a different job elsewhere if release of the employee seems in order.
 
Job descriptions further aid by providing various agencies and groups outside the organization with vital information for vocational and occupational counseling. State job service agencies, government-funded job training programs, and vocational secondary and postsecondary institutions sometimes rely heavily on data contained in job descriptions acquired from real-world firms.
 
For helping workers learn to manage their time.
 
On occasion workers will be hard-pressed to find enough time to get all necessary work done. Well-written job descriptions suggest how long different tasks should take relative to one another. These data can help workers plan their workdays--to budget their time properly to allow for accomplishment of all necessary work in an efficient way.
 
See the following articles for more information: