The transfer of knowledge to or from an individual, to or from groups, and to or from organizations can be instrumental in enhancing the overall performance of an organization. Organizations can benefit from enhanced employee performance by realizing increased productivity and profitability.
Informal Workplace Learning
One way that valuable knowledge in the workplace is acquired is through the informal learning experiences of the everyday work life of employees. This type of adult learning is referred to as being embedded and can be obtained or learned through self-directed learning experiences or passed down from our colleagues. Job-embedded learning refers to learning that occurs while on-the-job. Because learning occurs while on the job, integrating the new knowledge becomes second nature. Furthermore, job-embedded learning maximizes time because learning occurs while on-the-job. Finally, job-embedded learning is beneficial because it promotes immediate application of what is learned and costs less, in most cases, than conducting formal training.
In terms of adult learning in the workplace, the focus is on performance. Informal workplace learning needs to be recognized and fostered by organizations. This may be accomplished through mentoring, coaching, or consulting subject-matter experts. Technology can also be used to facilitate the informal transfer of knowledge by including virtual-learning support groups, instant messaging, expert networks, and mentor and coaching networks. The goal would be to create a marriage in which formal learning events and the serendipitous learning moments are given equal value.
Internet technology has significantly enhanced informal workplace learning. Embedding learning into work through e-learning and web based training has a powerful positive impact on performance and innovation. Making learning available to learners when on a day-to-day basis and allowing them to learn in a more collaborative way fosters better decision making which leads to innovative solutions.
Careers in Human Resource Development
The purpose of Human Resource Development (HRD), more recently referred to as Human Performance Technology (HPT), is to enhance employee performance/productivity, which leads to employee and customer satisfaction and an increase in the profitability of the organization. HRD is a practice that combines training/adult learning, organizational development, and career development efforts to encourage improvement of individual, group, and organizational performance.
Many colleges and universities offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees to students pursuing careers in human resource development. A few of the colleges and universities and the programs they have to offer are as follows:
- Northeastern Illinois University provides quality educational experiences to both graduate and undergraduate students pursuing careers in human resource development with an emphasis on training design, needs assessment, adult learning, evaluation, and consulting.
- The HRD program at Vanderbilt Peabody College prepares graduate students to design, implement, manage, and evaluate training programs in for-profit and non-profit organizations. In addition to designing and delivering effective instruction, Vanderbilt Peabody College also prepares students to facilitate organizational change and design ways to improve the quality of work life and increase productivity as an HRD professional. Graduates work as organizational consultants, corporate trainers, directors of human resource development, and program evaluators.
- The University of Phoenix offers a BS in Business/Human Resource Management and a MS in Business Administration with a specialization in Human Resource Management (MBA/HRM) designed to meet the needs of a broad but unique population – the working adult manager or supervisor who could benefit from a graduate business education.
- The IPT department of Boise State University offers an on campus and online graduate program leading to a certificate in Human Performance Technology (HPT). The graduate certificate in HPT is intended for individuals who want to increase their skills and credentials in HPT. The program emphasizes the practical application of process models, tools, and techniques to workplace performance improvement situations. The 16-credit program is made up of four existing master’s degree courses that are delivered both on campus and online.
Professional Organizations for Workplace Learning and Employee Performance
Professional organizations provide HRD professionals with career development opportunities. These organizations work to bring professionals together in conference, workshops, and online. A few of the professional organizations and the services they have to offer are as follows:
- ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) is the world’s largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals. ASTD’s members come from more than 100 countries and connect locally in more than 130 U.S. chapters and with more than 30 international partners. Members work in thousands of organizations of all sizes, in government, as independent consultants, and suppliers. ASTD provides resources for learning and performance professionals, educators, and students—research, analysis, benchmarking, online information, books, and other publications; brings professionals together in conferences, workshops, and online; offers professional development opportunities for learning practitioners, from a Job Bank and Career Center, to certificate programs and the only credential offered in the field: the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP); serves as the voice of the profession to the media and to public policy makers in the U.S., and collaborates with other associations, organizations, and educational institutions to advance the profession; and recognizes excellence and sets the standard for best practices in learning and performance.
- The Chicagoland Chapter of the American Society for Training & Development (CCASTD) provides its members with the tools and resources necessary to ensure their own ongoing development, and deliver exceptional value to their organizations in the area of workplace learning and performance.
- The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India.
- The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) is the leading international association dedicated to improving productivity and performance in the workplace. ISPI represents performance improvement professionals throughout the United States, Canada, and 40 other countries. ISPI’s mission is to develop and recognize the proficiency of our members and advocate the use of Human Performance Technology. Assembling The Performance Improvement Conference and other educational events like Principles & Practices, publishing books and periodicals, and supporting research are some of the ways ISPI works toward achieving this mission.
- The role of Chicago International Society for Performance Improvement (CISPI) is that of creating a performance culture by presenting and developing innovative ideas in the field of HPT and educating the business audience about the important role of HPT. CISPI is the premier forum in the Chicago area for improving organizational and individual performance. Since 1963, we have helped members find ways to increase workplace productivity. CISPI is the Chicago chapter of the International Society for Performance Improvement.
- The Society of Human Resource Professionals (SHRP) serves the needs of the HR profession by providing the most essential and comprehensive set of resources. SHRP advances the profession and the capabilities of the professional, so that HR professionals become more effective partners in developing and executing organization strategy. SHRP’s membership includes practitioners in all HR disciplines and professional levels and encompasses all industries in the Chicagoland area. SHRP also welcomes student members who are preparing for a career in Human Resources.
HRD Professionals are responsible for encouraging employees to participate in performance management and customer satisfaction. This is accomplished by creating and implementing a system that identifies competencies, established goals, and projects the expected outcome. Establishing a problem solving procedure and setting standards for employee performance are two crucial strategies for the improvement of organizational performance.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A. Human Resource Development