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first_img Comments are closed. Margaret Kubicek looks at how organisations can encourage their people topool ideas and informationOrganisations are good at assessing the training needs of their employees,but too often neglect the skills people already possess that could be sharedwith colleagues. This belief prompted people management consultancy learnpurple to incorporatea knowledge-sharing element into talent toolbox, its online review andappraisal service, says learnpurple’s managing director, Jane Sunley. “It’s not as though they’re asked, then made to share, they are askedwhat they would like to share,” says Sunley. “People actually like toteach others on the whole, but don”t like to be made to do it.” Contract catering business BaxterSmith introduced talent toolbox about ayear ago. It employs 600 people across 36 sites and each now has a trainingplan that fits in with the company”s overall training plan, says managingdirector Mike Smith. “It’s an opportunity for those being appraised to sayhow they could assist with the development and training of others in theorganisation,” he said. Central to BaxterSmith’s training plan is a “who-can-develop-whom”ethos, exemplified in an initiative that sprang from talent toolbox: the chefs’forum. The company’s 16 senior chefs hold meetings every other month where theyshare everything from purchasing and supply information to the latest menu andrecipe ideas. “No managers or directors sit in on that forum,” saysSmith. “The chefs feel they have a voice in our company.” This bottom-up approach engenders a sense of empowerment among employees,and keeps regional managers from getting ‘bogged down’ in T&D needs acrossmultiple sites, says Smith. The forum has now gained its own momentum, withchefs coming up with their own development ideas. While knowledge-sharing initiatives have obvious benefits, training managersoften face big challenges in keeping them active. Bayer Pharmaceuticals ran an online discussion forum last year followingimplementation of a global targeting process in sales. It aimed to identify andshare any common learning taking place across five countries to support the newprocess. Bayer is now putting together a best practice guide for targeting – apositive result despite a huge amount of effort, says training manager ClaireHutchins. “The process is quite hard in an organisation unused to any kind ofchatrooms or forums,” says Hutchins. “I think it can be hard to sellthe benefits of participating in a forum over and above e-mail.” Shepitched the project as an opportunity to learn new technology and learn frompeers. “We made sure their bosses knew they were participating,” sheadds, noting the importance of even small rewards for participation. Upfront preparation The forum was active for three weeks, a new question being posted each weekwith set deadlines for people to respond. Participants all knew each other, butthey still weren’t always forthcoming in posting their responses. “Becauseof its asynchronous nature, people tend to hold back and think someone elsewill go first.” An online discussion forum requires about the same amount of upfrontpreparation time as a face-to-face session, says Hutchins, but managers need toallow more time for clarification throughout, as well as simply phoning ande-mailing participants to remind them to take part. “It’s completely new and some people probably struggle to see its addedvalue. That’s not to say people aren’t willing and happy to take part, but oncethey’re into it, they may feel shy about asking or clarifying what you want ofthem,” says Hutchins. “Either they don’t respond at all, or don’trespond to their full potential. Or they may hold back because they don’t wantto respond first, then mirror their response to whoever went first.” For any kind of online learning initiatives to succeed, their managersshould be prepared to “drip feed them all the time,” says AndrewEttinger, director of learning resources at business school Ashridge.”There’s an inherent tension between wanting it to be completely free andmaking it very tight and focused and almost editing the flow because people canget turned off by a hundred different ideas flying all over the place.” Another factor concerns the culture of the organisation. Some take totechnology like ducks to water, but it can be much harder for others, says Ettinger,who believes many senior managers still struggle with anything beyond basice-mail. Top tips on sharing knowledge An online discussion forum can foster knowledge sharing amongcolleagues who work remotely. Bayer training manager Claire Hutchins shares hertop tips for success:– Identify a small, manageable group of up to six people, whopreferably have met face to face and worked or are currently working on acommon objective– Have a telephone discussion with participants to gain theirinterest and commitment to take part before discussions begin – Plan questions that will encourage the responses you arelooking for. Ambiguous questions can mislead participants and in an onlinesituation – unlike face to face –  thereis a time delay before you may realise this, and are able to refocus thediscussion– Dedicate time to encouraging participation, considering andreplying to each response– Summarise responses to show where the connections are betweenthe responses and to highlight the learning points– Recognise and reward employee participation Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Share optionsOn 1 Mar 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more