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Strategic training – a lesson to be learned

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An organizational strategy is a planned effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions, which in turn shape and guide an organization, its goal and activities, focusing every plan on the future.

Strategy establishes the principal direction, concentrates resources towards a limited number of directions, focusing on the stakeholders’ benefits – it structures a company’s vision for the future. The benefits of such an endeavor are that it clearly defines the purpose of the organization, it establishes realistic goals and objectives in accordance with the mission and ensures the most effective use of organizational resources.

It may also provide a starting point from which progress can be measured,  from which we can develop a clear focus of the organization and increase productivity by bringing staff and board to work in a coordinated team. The purpose of the strategy is to help the organization do a better job, ensure that employees are working together for the same goals, assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to an ever-changing environment.

Adopting a “strategy” means clearly knowing the organization’s objectives, being aware of the available resources and use them in a dynamic environment.A good strategy has to be disciplined, analytical, and decisive in being united towards a common goal. These characteristics then apply to the strategic plan contents, which are the mission, vision and values.

On top of that, a strategy influences the following organizational elements: physical, financial and human capital. Therefore, ensuring your strategy is up to par with your business environments requirements is of paramount importance.

The company’s strategy determines the amount of training required for current or future job skills, the extent to which training should be customized for particular needs, the extent to which training is restricted to specific groups of employees or open to all, how much of it is planned and systematically administered and the importance such a method has, compared to other HR practices.

Strategic training is a form of training that, according to a business’s strategic planning, values and goals, provides employees with the necessary tools and information required to complete their tasks successfully.

Furthermore, it also increases productivity levels. Learning as a strategic focus means that a company has an enhanced capacity to learn, adapt, and change. It means that it can carefully scrutinize and align training processes with objectives & goals and regards training as part of a system designed to create human capital.

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The difference between a regular training session and a strategic training one is based on the existence of the following variables: focus, tasks, available information, productivity, job satisfaction and development.

How can the strategy impact the training? A good strategy plan relies on the amount of training devoted to current or future job skills. It can also represent the extent to which trainings are customized for the varying particular needs of an organization’s employees or are developed based on the needs of a specific team, unit or division.

Then, the strategy can address whether the training session is planned and systematically administrated, provided only when problems occur or spontaneously. Moreover, it also stresses the importance of training sessions compared to other human resource management practices, such as selection and compensation.

The model of a strategic plan has as its main focus the performance results that lead to fulfilling business needs. That is why the entire learning experience has to be linked to the main business goals.

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In this particular representation of a training’s role, learning means the acquisition of knowledge by individuals, employees or groups that are willing to apply said knowledge in their daily assignments, in making decisions or accomplishing tasks for the company.

The strategic training process can be seen here:

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Business Strategy implies reaching the business plan, which consists of the following: mission, vision, goals.

Strategic Training Initiatives contribute to the diversity of a learning portfolio, the improvement of customer satisfaction, acceleration of the pace of employee learning and the rate of gaining and sharing knowledge.

Strategic Activities use web-based training, making development planning mandatory, developing websites for knowledge sharing and increasing the amount of customer service training.

Finally, metrics that show the value of a training involve learning, performance improvement, reduced customer complaints, reduced turnover and greater employee satisfaction. This particular training model takes into account metrics and the balance scorecard (tools for measuring the impact of the training session on the business strategy plan).

These metrics are business-level outcomes, chosen to measure the overall value of training sessions. The balance scorecard measures the overall company performance and the performance of departments or functions and it deals with four perspectives: internal innovation, learning, financial aspects and the customer’s.

Activities in developing such initiatives are seeing the use of new technology in training, which are increasing access to training programs, reducing development time, developing new or expanded course offerings.

The organizational characteristics that influence training sessions are the following:

  1. The role of employees and managers – who have to manage individual and team performance, develop employees and encourage continuous learning, plan and allocate resources, coordinate activities between interdependent teams, facilitate decision-making and represent one’s work unit;
  2. The impact of top management support – who set a clear direction for learning, provide encouragement, resources and commitment to strategic learning, govern learning and review objectives, develop new learning programs for the company, promote the company’s commitment to learning;
  3. The integration of business units – where training includes rotating employees between jobs in different businesses;
  4. The feel of a global presence – where training helps prepare employees for temporary or long-term overseas assignments;
  5. General business conditions – these impact the ability to find employees with the necessary skills and retain current employees;
  6. The extent of unionization – which is represented by joint union-management programs that help employees prepare for new jobs;
  7. Staff involvement in training – which takes into account a company’s decision regarding a suitable employee pool, their selection and desired mix of employee skills and statuses.

The models of strategic training are as follows:

  • Faculty Model (that include safety training, quality training, technology and computer systems, leadership development, sales training)
  • Customer Model (that includes Information Systems, Marketing, Production and Operations, Finance)
  • Matrix Model (besides the faculty model training specialty areas, it also includes Marketing and Production and Operations)
  • Corporate University Model (that includes Leadership development programs and newly-hired employee programs)
  • Virtual Model (that operates according to three principles: employee have primary responsibility for learning, the most effective learning takes place on the job, the existence of a good manager-employee relationship is critical)

The implications for continuous learning in regards to human capital development are among others, recognition that learning should help (employee performance and achieve business goals), learning should occur on as needed basis, the need to support informational learning and also the fact that learning should include a therapist’s overview.

It also involves key capabilities such as aligning learning goals to business goals, measurement of learning sessions’ impact on a business development, movement of learning outside the company, developing competencies for critical jobs, integrating learning with other human resource functions, including classroom studying as well as e-learning and designing and delivering leadership development courses.

Consequentially, in order to have a good strategic learning, a company’s top management should first and foremost take note of their institution’s vision, values and goals and adapt any learning programs to those factors, in a dedicated manner.

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