Training and Performance in Small Firms
1. Jane Bryan
1. Cardiff Business School, UK
This article explores the relationship between training and growth in small manufacturing businesses. Research on training undertaken at the macro-level highlights a series of earnings and productivity returns. However, firm-level research has generally yielded more ambiguous results. A review of small firms research indicates that the relationship between training and growth has rarely been considered within the wider context of other factors that may influence growth. Training literature also appears to be more concerned, perversely, with its impacts on firm inputs (employment growth) rather than output (sales) growth. Other considerations also complicate understanding of the relationship between training and performance, since training may be provoked by employment growth (but not theoretically by sales growth), and has a tendency to be associated with larger firms. These considerations are examined with respect to two types of training (in-house training and ex-house management training) using information from a sample of 114 small manufacturing firms in Wales.
Employee training is a tool that managers can utilize to help employees bridge the gap between their present level of performance and their desired level of performance. The challenge for the organization is to design training options that give employees the information or skills they need and then measure whether those training options were effective in producing desired outcomes. Sponsored Link
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Managers have different views of how much training is needed for an employee to produce desired performance outcomes. It's important to understand that most employees do not come to their jobs with the total knowledge and experience required to perform perfectly. They need a manager to select appropriate training options so that they may advance to a desired level of performance. Managers can help the firm increase its overall capacity by looking for unmet training needs and communicating them to trainers and human resources experts. General and Specific Training
Employees can receive two kinds of training to improve their performance. First, a company can offer general training to give employees new knowledge and skills, which will be transferable to any future job. Second, a company can offer training in skills specific to its technologies and work processes. Although those skills may not be transferable to future jobs, they are critical to the company. Focusing on company-specific training is important because a company derives its competitive advantage from what its employees know and can do that cannot be found elsewhere in the market. Motivation
The availability of effective training programs, both mandatory and elective, is essential to a firm's overall performance. Some employees are motivated primarily by career goals and need flexibility to request training when needed. Other employees will only complete required training. Employers should design training options to motivate workers of all types and give them feedback during training. Employers with more intensive training in general -- which means training is more frequent and more demanding -- are likely to see more business growth and innovation. Systematic Approach
Employers benefit from a systematic approach to training design. Whether they use internal or external trainers, they need to study training needs systematically using a problem-solving method. Each employee or group of employees must be assessed for training needs. Then, trainers must confer with managers to decide what kinds of training activities will produce improved performance. Finally, trainers will design the training activities and test them on a few employees before offering them to the larger group of...
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