I wanted to apply for a job maintaining databases; however, the company I was applying for used a different program which I needed to learn before being considered for the application. Although I had no assurance of being hired, I bought the program and the book and resolved to learn the program on my own. Whether I get the job or not, I have learned something new to add to my résumé. In my Human Resources Management class, we were taught that the best way to gather information about the prospective applicant is to look at their résumé’s and that it is often the most used preselection tool. A résumé that is complete and presents current information about one’s qualifications and skills will get the most points during selection (Newell & Scarborough, 2002). Moreover, it is also important that when a skill or expertise is listed on a résumé it is actually verifiable and that one could demonstrate it if needed.
This meant that if I really wanted that job, I should be able to master this program or be able to work with it before I submit that application letter. I approached the task with a sense of urgency since the deadline for the application was in a week. I recalled that in the recruitment process, it is important to have a time frame of the recruitment activities as sometimes the need for an applicant to the position is immediate (Newell & Scarborough, 2002), since the time frame for the application process was in a week, I figured the company must really be in a hurry to fill the job vacancy.
A vacancy in the company can be brought about by external turnovers, where the employee voluntarily leave the company, or an internal turnover, where the employee is promoted to a higher position (Mathis & Jackson, 2006). Database administrators usually work alone and it is a very specific job that its job description is basically about how to enter and update information in the company’s database and based on this, I deduced the former employee of the company I was setting my eyes on resigned. Voluntary resignations often occur because of the need for better paying jobs, job dissatisfaction, disagreement with the management and a whole lot more. However, it would be too much of me to think so far ahead about the reasons why the former database administrator left; it’s the case of counting the rotten eggs even before finding the hen.
I was in the middle of my thoughts when I realized that I was not yet working on the program. So I proceeded to install the program on my computer and scanned the guidebook to familiarize myself with the icons and the layout of the interface. Setting up the program on my computer was easy; I followed the instructions carefully and installed the software tutor to help me. Then, I had the book of instructions and proceeded to punch out some commands and clicked on the icons on the screen in front of me. Then after 10 minutes, I realized I was not learning anything!
I could not make heads or tails about what the program was about really, and it was like a tangle of senseless letters and numbers. Besides, my head was spinning from straining my eyes at the monitor and then looking at the guide book and asking help from the program tutor. In this predicament, I found myself looking back at the human resource management theories that I took up this semester at the university. HR concepts and theories are actually valuable instruments that would help organizations become productive (Ulrich& Brockbank, 2005)
I remembered that motivating people to learn something new or to have them attend skills training is one of the most difficult tasks that an HR manager have to face. Research had found that employees willingly attend trainings and workshops since it would free them from their daily work routines, however, whether they learn anything from it or not has not been established (Kraiger & Ford, 2006). Although, researchers agree that an employee who have positive attitudes towards the training program would likely benefit more from the training while a negative attitude towards the training sessions would mean that the possibility of learning has already been blocked. Designing an effective training program should be based on motivation theories and adult learning.
Motivation theories indicate that in order for the individual to accomplish a task, the goal itself should be one that the individual values (Mathis & Jackson, 2006). This would mean that the training should be one that is related to the work tasks of the employee and that it could be perceived as an opportunity for growth and development. Training activities should also be designed to provide opportunities for the participants to succeed and feel that they are competent, thus, if the skills training is about making performance evaluation instruments then the participants could be asked to make their own instrument and input can be given in how to make performance evaluations which would either validate the participants skills or teach them new ones.
The needs theory of motivation also says that trainings should answer a need; this means that the employee will perceive the training as personally important to him/her if it satisfies a need. The need for growth, for achievement, for competence and for affiliation is answered by training programs. When an employee is required to attend a training workshop, it tells him that the company wants him to become better at his job, that they care about his personal quest for professional growth, and that the company is looking after their employees (Pfeffer & Veiga, 1999). Aside from motivation, a key factor in effective training programs is adult learning theories.
The effectiveness of trainings and workshops is measured by the amount of skills transferred from the training to the actual job (Kraiger & Aguinis, 2001). However, literature says that training effectiveness in terms of learning transfer has not been adequately studied due to the difficulty of monitoring learning in the workplace. Adult learning theories suggests that adults learn experientially, that is by doing and applying what is being taught (Nkomo, Fottler & McAfee, 2005). Thus, if the skills being taught are customer service courtesy, it would be more effective if the skill is taught using role playing techniques and applying it to real life situations than if it was just taught using lectures.
Moreover, learning happens in a continuum, one being effective learning and remembering and the other is end is forgetting and decay. Thus, trainings should be given periodically, it should not be a one-shot deal where you would expect that everything is learned and that it should not be repeated (Salas, CannonBowers, Rhodenizer & Bowers, 1999), however it makes no sense to train employees on something that they do not need or one that is not relevant to their jobs. After, this musings and theoretical exercise, I went back to my database program and begun learning it in a different approach.
First off, I delegated a time for my learning schedule that is on the same time everyday, then I chose between the guide book or the tutor to help me since using both would be confusing and exhausting. From what I learned on adult learning, the training session should be interactive, one that I can work on and see concrete results or outputs, so settled for the tutor and ditched the guidebook. Second, on my first session, I read the introductory part of the program and had the tutorial run to give an overview of the program, because the HR texts said one must first understand what the training is for and where it could be used to make the person’s job easier or more meaningful.
The tutorial was interactive so I got to associate the different commands with its specific functions and I remembered it easily because I could visualize the icon, no wonder programs have icons, it makes the manipulation of the program simpler. After several tutorials I then proceeded to work on the program on my own, I printed the sample exercises and then proceeded to work on the database using the exercises and if I could not make sense of it, I then asked the tutor for help.
The best thing about the activities was that it worked on an actual data, although it was fictitious, I had something to work with and could treat them as real. What was gratifying was that every time I was able to complete an exercise and produce the output exactly as it was presented in the training program, I felt I accomplished something and I was sure that I was really learning. At present, I am still on the third chapter but it has been a good run, and that job application seems to be on the positive side since many of those who applied are also not familiar with the program.
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