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Trends in Corporate Training

From the January 1997 issue of
HR Fact Finder

Corporate training topics that will be in the most demand next year will be coaching, teaming, implementing change, and measurement, according to Dr. Mary Lippitt, president of Enterprise Management Ltd., a Maryland-based consulting firm. "Empowerment, diversity and re- engineering, which were recent favorites, have faded from the training agenda," said Lippitt.

Among training subjects with continued staying power, reported Lippitt, are customer focus and project management. "These topics affect people throughout the organization and people from several units or functions are increasingly being trained together, rather than individuals enrolling in centralized training programs," said Lippitt.

Lippitt cited ten trends in corporate training which will grow in 1997:

  1. Customization of training, including tailored programs for particular units within an organization, rather than relying on off-the-shelf programs.
  2. Training used to address organization-wide issues, often conducted across units/functions toward specific goals.
  3. Multi-skilling or cross-training, so individuals acquire a range of competencies, not just those associated with a single function.
  4. Developmental activities for individual career building, including coaching, shadowing, task forces, mentoring.
  5. Large-scale change efforts, including "future search," "real-time strategic change," or "design conferences" that involve all levels of employees representing all units and with participation from customers, regulators, or other stakeholders.
  6. Computer-based training, using intranets, interactive TV, CD-ROMs and other emerging technologies.
  7. Utilizing groupware so training, decision-making, brainstorming, etc. may be done at multiple sites, with anonymous input.
  8. Training on-the-job and with existing, intact work teams.
  9. Line executives or non-training professionals conducting or co-conducting additional training.
  10. Senior managerial involvement in training and development, including reviewing proposals developed during training for performance improvement.

Lippitt acknowledged that not all the trends are new. "While teaming has a history, the latest wrinkle is greater stress on having teams become self-managing." To help teams manage, noted Lippitt, an emphasis on measurement skills has recently emerged. "Line workers and managers are now increasingly expected to track the quality and on-time performance of their own work as well as customer satisfaction," said Lippitt. "Consequently, companies have realized the need to have employees acquire the measurement and survey skills to enable them to make the needed assessments."

Underlying Goals and Methods Remain the Same

Another development expected to grow, said Lippitt, are preferred provider relationships between organizations and training firms. "While holding down costs is an issue, what is really behind the bundling of training is the desire to reduce the inconsistency among programs," Lippitt said. "When different providers are used by a single company, key messages tend to be diffused or some training instruments repeated inadvertently."

Although training topics vary over time, observed Lippitt, an organization's underlying goals and methods usually remain the same. "For instance, while improved communication is always critical to a company, a variety of training processes, tools, and techniques must be employed to respond to present needs such as alliance building or cross-functional cooperation."

Philip G. Ryan Inc., 80 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10011-5126.

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