Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 63 Alda Cristina
Training and work
Master’s degree in
Occupational Sciences,

Instituto Superior de Ciênciasdo Trabalho e da Empresa;Manager and Training Officer An action-research study in a sales and
distribution company
Albino Pedro Lopes
Associate Professor of Human
Resources, Department of
Management, ISCTE.

and monitored in a cyclical process, guar-anteeing that learning occurs in a work con- This article is based on a master’s disserta- text and that the organisation is being con- tion in Occupational Sciences entitled “Train- stantly improved. In this age of uncertainty, ing and the Organisation of Work: an Action to ensure employees’ performance, organ- Research Trial in a Sales and Distribution isations have had to ensure that work situ- Company”, completed at the Instituto Su- ations are also teaching situations, accord- perior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empre- ing to Le Boterf (1989) - always with a view to permanent improvements in economicand social performance and a reduction in In this project, the concept of training goes This study seeks to define a
on traditional education and formal train- This project could be defined as a transition method of designing work-
from a system of training schemes to one of linked training, based on day-
beyond the idea of training by catalogue, in action training (Le Boterf, 1987): training is to-day work practices and the
which a series of people enrol with the in- collaboration between all those
es that are defined and structured at the out- involved. From diagnosis to
a choice of existing defined, structured cours- set and organised without prior analysis and evaluation, no training is de-
without considering the interests of all par- signed or given without con-
ties. Training not only focuses on an as- sidering the opinions and in-
We regularly find that the results of training sessment and study to identify the problems, terests of the parties involved.
The method used is based on
there has been a change in practices or in tices. It is all identified by the involvement action research (AR) and on
the organisation. This is because, on one of the parties, while the training objectives the cyclical process that char-
hand, other statistics take into account oth- are defined on the basis of the real situation acterises it: planning - acting
- observing - reflecting. Train-
given or trainee satisfaction and, on the oth- ing officers take on a new role
er hand, because training is designed out of But learning should not only occur during here: they become facilitators
context, without taking into account real the training scheme; it should be become a and the driving force behind
problems and the actual people involved. part of practice so as to serve as a basis training practices.
for ongoing improvement. The idea is to go The conclusion is that there
Training should not be based only on a choice from a training model that is centred on the are reasons for considering
of courses. Rather, it should be clearly ori- individual to one that is aimed at the learn- more dynamic approaches in
ented towards demand, towards meeting the ing organisation. The implementation of this the design and organisation
real needs of a particular setting and its peo- project will mean that training is organised of training, based on research
ple. As a means, not an end in itself. It should on the basis of existing problems and needs and reflection and with the
be defined on the basis of real problems and or on the interests and knowledge expressed participation of all parties in-
situations that are being regularly assessed by the individuals themselves. When devis- Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 64 ing action training, it is important to draw than the criterion of representativity. The out each person’s knowledge and introduce idea was to use the complex, concrete situ- this individual knowledge into that of the then, after understanding it, set out princi-ples of action. In this case, problem solving The first part of the article refers to the the- involved everyone’s participation and the oretical fields inherent in the subject of the training officer, a researcher, was the co-pro- study and also addresses action research, which is used here both as a research methodand for training purposes. All the research The second part of the article first address- is based on a real, concrete situation: the es the process that brings out a new train- design and organisation of ongoing training the limits of the traditional training model, product) for sales assistants. It is a case study which was based on the instrumental, adap- of a large department store in Lisbon (1), tive perspective of training processes with structured courses and a vision of humans characteristics of a small retail outlet and the whole is a true network of small business schemes designed in the past, more thought was given to means than to results; at theheart of the training were the trainer and his The subject of sales also has implications in or her command of the contents. Today, it terms of training. Being in direct contact with is important not only to bring training close the customers, sales assistants are a strate- to the workplace but also to bring the work- gic group for the company. According to a place to training. In this increasingly close study conducted by Cedefop (1995:14), what link, what matter is results in action not re- is necessary and “increasingly to be found sults of the scheme. In linking training situ- of products and employees’ attitudes and work situations as being instructive. More- over, each person is considered to have a training potential gradually created throughtheir knowledge and personal experience and interests. It is this fount of knowledge, increasingly well-informed customers, it is experiences or attitudes that it is important necessary to have well-trained, customer- to bring out in each person and place at the oriented sales assistants who are specialised in the products they sell. The question ishow to achieve this most effectively. We can- We then classify the types of schemes and when the aim is to increase work skills.
isation. We give the results of some casestudies: forms of training put into practice, The article describes the method followed in designing and organising effective train- method, based on the cyclical process char- ing which takes into account conditioning factors in the organisation of work. Thereare sales assistants who work in shifts and In the third part of the article, we reflect on there are others who work part time; there are highly specialised sales areas with only a small number of sales assistants while there is a shortage of specialists in some retail ar- items on sale and a net surface areaof more than 820 000 m2. The Lis- eas. Creativity is required and it is necessary to design the training to go far beyond tra- The study is based mainly on the construc- and 1 900 employees. It is not onlythe first in a network that the com- tivist model of training, theories on the qual- ifying and learning organisation and the the- as it is its first international foray.
The training departments in Spain scheme do not refer to a law or a theory but to an understanding of this particular situ- The action training project implemented is ation. In this project, the criterion for defin- based on trainee-oriented training, on train- The company has its own trainingfacility at each of its stores.
ing practices is therefore more important ing rooted in the work itself, and on train- Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 65 ing oriented towards reflection and research in this company to help training officers, into practices, involving the exchange of ex- trainers and participants or their supervisors periences between people. These principles develop their abilities and to foster an atti- are included in the assumptions of the con- structivist training model, as they are basedon the idea that occupational practice is, Methods used
in itself, an important way of constructingknowledge. The experience of specialists and reflection on their practices take prece- the reality and concrete practices in the or- dence. The subjects build on their own knowl- ganisation of training. It was supported by edge through direct intervention on the ob- the use of a research diary. Different meth- ods were used to organise the differentforms of training in the various phases of Learning organisations often employ the con- cept of “working for projects”. The projectteam is not formed according to the chain Interviews and questionnaires with
of command, but brings together the skills feedback
needed to solve a problem. Qualifying com-panies and learning companies (2) are al- In this study, all the training is based on problem solving and is part of an AR loop which, in turn, is associated with the idea analysed and assessed on the basis of the that improves individuals’ skills; a learning needs felt by the employees themselves.
In the case of classroom training, the sit- uation is identified and assessed on the ba- going improvement in practical knowledge, assistants and their supervisors. The ques- AR process. The learning process iscyclical and has discovery - inven- tionnaire is drawn up on the basis of a pre- tion - production - generalisation key role to play in increasing productivity.
The receivers of training are not just objects officer or researcher on the basis of meet- of teaching but subjects with whom others work and who analyse themselves. Training buyers and suppliers. In the second, feed- lective skills and says that the gainsin productivity or performance of a is thus aimed at the integral development of the adult. The action research method itself is also based on a humanist conception: peo- sent to the trainers, who then use it to de- members of a working group andon the quality of the relationships ple are valued and supported in developing cide on training subjects and contents. The technical or product training courses for 72 The process used to evaluate training was based on Kirkpatrick’s four-level model of and specialists, although it has beencriticised by many authors. In 1955, training evaluation (1998) (4), in which dif- ferent dimensions of training can be assessed.
the trainer herself used an evaluations scale Level 1 measures satisfaction, level 2 assesses for several parameters with 78 sales assis- tioned, referring to return on in-vestment (ROI) to determine to what learning, level 3 evaluates behaviour and tants from 16 different sales areas, before transfer to the work context and level 4 meas- and after observing them in their actual work Brinkerhoff suggested a differentlevel, in which he included the di-dactic assessment phase. Holton III Action research (AR) as a training
During assessment of training by project, we also used semi-structured interviews with (2002) have criticised the four-level model because it focuses on the managers of floors involving clothing al- The purposes and functions of AR can vary terations, with the seamstresses in the serv- considerably. It may be used for investiga- ice studio, with sales assistants and with III (1996:6) says that Alliger & Janakin 1989 considered that the cause- tion, research or action purposes and its function may be critical or one of action, with a view to achieve change and specif- Problem solving with experiments in
demonstrated. Swanson and HoltonIII (2002) said that Kirkpatrick’s mod- ic training purposes. As training is aimed at the field
change, both individual and collective or The loop that characterises AR consists of tem as part of a process consistingof four components: a process, re- as a training strategy is to be implemented an integrated cycle of activities in which each Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 66 phase learns from the previous one and de- solutions from the outside, the specialists di- rectly investigate the problems placed be- ing, the process begins with a general idea fore them in order to find partial or total so- or a situation that needs improving. After lutions. This helps the specialists to achieve deciding the scope of action and conduct- a better understanding of the problems and ing preliminary reconnaissance of the field the possibilities for intervention. The or- of action, the researcher or trainer draws up ganisations to which they belong can then a plan of action. S/he defines ways of mon- itoring the effects of the first step, the strat- culture and rethink their relations with the which it will be used in practice. Data are edge of both the professional group and the then described and assessed. This assess-ment provides the data that will be used There is always permanent iteration and in- teraction between the research and the ac- and Elliott (1982), quoted by Winter (1989:13), tion, and knowledge is produced by chang- ing the existing circumstances. Training by analysis of practice (essential for bringing research can be achieved with different strate- gies and activities which, after an analysis changed practices (essential for increasing of practices in the field, lead to training, through which knowledge is manifested andsituations are changed. All the authors whose works we researchedagree that AR involves participation, col- Evaluation method
laboration, knowledge acquisition and so-cial change. The researcher achieves these During on-the-job training, one question- aims by implementing a loop consisting of naire was given to the 16 supervisors of the planning, acting, observing and reflecting.
16 sales areas and another to the 78 partic- The purpose of AR is not so much to elim- ipating sales assistants eight week after the inate the problem but to develop the situ- beginning of the follow-up. After the same ation: thus, small steps in the right direction period, the trainer who had done the mon- itoring filled in her on-the-job observationforms, assessing the different items for each These four elements or cycles of the spiral participant and comparing them with the as- (5) (planning, acting, observing and re- sessment made at the beginning of each sales flecting) are based on the idea that, in each cycle, the researcher plans before actingand reflects on findings and methods after In the simulations during classroom train- acting. The reflection at the end of each ing, one questionnaire was given to the 10 loop fuels the planning for the next loop.
supervisors of 10 different areas and anoth- As a result, something is learnt in each of er to the 72 participants (although only 48 these phases. In other phases, we confirm from seven different areas answered), 2 to previous learning or find that the proposed 3 weeks after attending the course. An in- formal questionnaire was given to training Gummesson (1991), quoted by Dick (1993:14), says is a hermeneutic spiral, where eachturn of the spiral builds upon the under- In training by project - specifically training standing flowing out of the previous turn.
in clothing alterations - one questionnaire Each research cycle therefore corresponds was given to the five different apparel ar- typical spiral or cycle are as follows:1a) deciding what questions we want to the underlying action in individual re- eas, to three despatch operators and 12 sales flection. After each cycle, the planning, ac- assistants from the alteration team, four tion and reflection are criticised. And this is tion like “how does this systemwork?” 1b) deciding who to ask and 3b) interpreting the information 3c)checking that the choice of partici- While action training is designed to solve existing problems, AR is used as a means of garments was also gathered before and af- obtaining information about a situation in ing the data and interpreting themwith the applicable literature.
order to act on it. Instead of waiting for Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 67 Changing the training paradigm:
The problem arises later, during evaluation, from training scheme to action
knowledge and practices have been acquiredand whether they have been transferred to This action training project emerges as a re- work situations. It is not always easy to gath- sult of a strong wish to reorganise the com- er data in the field that can clearly be at- pany’s existing training model in order to help bring about ongoing, in-depth organ- isational change, in the sense given by Quinn training, in that there are always many con- (1996). In this sense, it means going beyond tributing factors. At the same time, ques- the research process and, for the writer’s tionnaires for participants and supervisors - professional practice, represents an oppor- the easiest and most practical means of get- ting feedback, which should be used in anycase - only reflect individuals’ experiences.
In terms of company training techniques, I It is therefore important to know not only the results and the product of the training, now intend to take a critical view of the way but also the way in which these results were in which training has been organised in the company. The idea of this self-criticismexercise is to define a valid model for the propriate in that there is constant monitor- to all training coordination, thus providing ing and dialogue between training design, a prospective as a well as a retrospective trainers, supervisors and participants, which flection, initiated by the training technique process, the creation of a new model; a new way of designing, organising and evaluat- search diary, on my own daily practices. The result emerging from my reflection and read- in the company. We also feel that the situa- ing was a series of ideas and possible dif- tions described do not exhaust all the pos- ferent ways of doing, analysing and organ- sibilities for designing training linked with ising, which were first put into practice dur- This concept of demand-based training stip- The idea of the project is to test a concept ulates that the design of all training is based of training design by means of a cyclical on the needs and interests of individuals and process, with the final goal of its serving of the organisation. We assume that training as a basis for the organisation of training in must have measurable results (some harder the company. In order to achieve this, we to measure that others). These must be known not only defined a form of action for dif- ferent training situations based on needs and but also as an input for ongoing training and el in a series of training courses. All the ex- that training should be assessed, not on the amples have a point in common and that is basis of the number of courses given or the the fact that the working environment was number of training hours per employee, but used in some way in all of them in order to of tangible results for each individual or activate the training situation. Another com- group, in terms of the organisation and of mon feature is the fact that we tried to achieve the production-mobilisation-acquisition ofknowledge (Barbier, 1996), by inviting the While before training was merely classroom courses, with this project it becomes de-velopment in formal, non-formal and infor- The main goal set for the Action Training mal contexts. While courses were once or- Project is to ensure that technical training ganised in modules and on the basis of con- produces results in terms of knowledge, skills tent, the idea now is to base the content and or organisation of work, on the basis of the the process in which the training occurs on how work is organised. The definition andstructure of the training depends on what is Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 68 happening in the whole work context, what ipate developments in the organisation of is there, the difficulties, the needs, the prob- lems, the (ab)normal situations and on what and a room, seeing it more in terms of ac-tion, context and individuals, with a view to In the past, there was absolutely no flexi- building a learning organisation (7). It also bility; in simulations, the training providers focuses on measuring results at the differ- merely “gave” another course on the basis of the model and programme that they al-ready had. Conversely, this project is based Implementing the different types
on an empirical, inductive approach. In the of action
old model, the trainees learnt the theory andwent on to put it into practice. In the cur- rent model, the idea is for classroom train- ganise training into three different types, ac- ing to ground, systematise and consolidate cording to Barbier’s classification (1996) (8).
It is not a question of deciding which of have already gained from practice. General considerations will thus be inferred from sit- considered on the basis of each situation.
uations experienced by the participants rather No type of training is better than any other.
Ideally, they should be complementary. Theyare all useful and necessary and this study According to Lesne (1984), in the past, train- gives an appropriate description of how to ing was based on the transmission of knowl- design, organise and assess them, always in edge, in which the trainer was the transmit- connection to work, in order to guarantee ter of knowledge in an asymmetrical rela- their success and suitability to different sit- tionship, and action was taken in isolation, without considering the department with allits members. Action training is intended to Training in work situations
develop the effectiveness of a group throughthe development of all its members. For this This concept of training is designed to con- struct a personalised training path in a wide cordance with the type of work organisa-tion. Although it all takes place in the work- Indeed, in the recent past, training in the company was based on and practically lim- while other training is separated from it.
ited to a trainer-trainee relationship, where- Training aims not only to perceive the work as action training aims at a multidirectional process and work relations in general but relationship including internal parties (train- also to acquire content by placing it into re- er, supervisors, buyers, sales assistants and al situations. The need for this training is a (6) External bodies include suppli-ers as businesses and as trainers; co-workers) and external parties (6) (sup- result of the constant influx of new sales as- pliers, customers, competitors, trainers.).
into consideration the training andknowledge that sales assistants canacquire in their relations with the Another aspect that separates this project Training in work situations (Barbier, 1996) from the old training model is the relation- as part of this project includes all technical ship with know-how. Before, it was a ques- training in dressmaking, focusing on prac- and competitors, in that some train-ing can be held on the supplier’s tion of using knowledge, while now the idea tices with a trainer in a work context. Nev- ertheless, the model is equally valid for train- viduals who are agents of change. In addi- the recruitment phase. In each type of train- are five disciplines that can con- tion, it is the employees themselves who de- ing, work situations and context are used to tribute to the systemic thought in-herent in learning organisations: fine or suggest the training subjects.
“adoption of systemic thought”, “fos-tering personal mastery of one’s own Instead of a trainer providing content to a life”, “challenging prevailing men-tal models”, “creating a shared over- ceptance of the new role that training has passive trainee, here it is the employees to play in the organisation. It should begin themselves who actively seek information - with a rethinking of its role in the Human and thus themselves generate, rather than (8) Training during work situations, Resources Department and in the organisa- just use, know-how. This requires getting training from work situations andtraining in actual work situations. tion. This has to do with the need to antic- the participants to learn how to learn and Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 69 how to reach into know-how that has hard- situation and then, together, they decide on ly been formalised, as a way of taking part a score of 1 to 10 depending on each area.
in the joint transformation of people andwork - their performance and their organi- ❑ The trainer indicates the objective for each parameter. Strategies and activities (the-oretic and practical assignments, PC exer- This type of training is intended to get in- cises, local support with customers,.) are dividuals to construct and absorb know-how defined on the basis of each individual’s from the instruments, contents and process- es of their own work. No immediate, directchange in work situations is expected. There ❑ The trainer monitors each individual and is, we hope, a lot of know-how that can be mobilised in their current work situationor transferred to a similar situation. The ba- ❑ After eight weeks of follow-up, the train- acquired by using the work situation andthe work is the starting point for the train- Training from work situations
Training given from work situations (Bar- Once a person is recruited and evaluated by bier, 1996) consists in occasional formal train- the trainer, an assessment (9) is made on the ing courses, meaning, in this case, classroom basis of items defined for each sales area.
simulations. Their purpose is to improve spe- The trainer and trainee both then identify their current knowledge of each item. The product. Training is triggered usually by work trainee is informed of the objective that is situations and products sold; it is usually ad- set for each item, depending on the area or ministered by specialists or trainers sent the job to be done. After that, trainer and by suppliers. Training is scheduled on the trainee define lines of work and support so basis not only of individuals’ interests and motivations but also of the specific rea-sons for providing it, which are discussed As this process involved over 400 sales as- in advance with the supervisor and buyer.
sistants from five different floors in dress- The training is designed and oriented on the making alone, it proved necessary to hire a basis of the knowledge expressed (not on- trainer just for these subjects. This became ly on doubts but also on individuals’ per- ception of the products). The work contents an experienced trainer joined the Training in each area are used as training tools, as Department. The process consisted of con- the intention in the classroom is to rebuild tinuously analysing work situations and prac- and finalise knowledge. We try to recreate tices with all those involved, in order to pin- the work situation; sales assistants’ time in the classroom is intended to improve or cor-rect their practices in work situations.
In this type of training, the target popula-tion’s training goals and paths are mapped out - but only partially. They emerge pro- preparation involving participants, supervi- sors, buyers and the suppliers themselves.
include moments of non-formal training with The training officer is there to encourage the trainer, self-training or even informal on- and mediate the process, watching the signs the-job training. These situations are pro- from all parties, always intent on ongoing vided for but not planned, given that we are improvement. We always start with reflec- talking about personalised training paths in tion on the results of previous training so which each participant has his or her own rhythm, needs, interests and motivations.
courses. Individuals are asked to reflect ontheir practices. The trainer monitors the sales assistants, from identification to evaluation, as follows: The planning phase of each simulation takes but also know-how. To do this, thetrainer watches the sales assistant ❑ The trainer joins the sales assistant to be often do not realise what they know or what tionnaire. The grade given to thetrainee should be defined jointly by stacle to developing skills. The training is Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 70 intended to help the sales assistants become aware of their abilities. They have to par- both the subject and the means of the change ticipate and experiment until they can ac- intervene and are formally asked to speak comes from the work method itself, whichis the main content of the training. The di- Internal and external partners contribute to this process. The trainers not only point out already exists, from work practices used by what is all right but also what can be im- different groups, each with different expe- proved; they observe what people do or do riences. In the crossroads of know-how and not know. Before the training, they will have situations information is exchanged and new had access to the sales questionnaires as- know-how is built. This results in an on- sessing the sales assistants’ knowledge. The questionnaires and other information tell the es not on the content but on the process it- training officer and trainer what the sales as- self - the interaction between the players.
sistants know best, what they know less and The point is to bring about changes in be- what they do not know at all. The training haviour or attitudes rather than merely to officer outlines the training, establishing goals, methods and strategies (practical innature whenever possible) on the training The example given for this type of training form to be sent to the supplier’s trainer, who also had to do with apparel but in this case will fill in the remaining fields. This ensures it dealt with the management and organisa- that the training is planned on the basis of tion of garment alterations. It began with the goals and interests of all those involved.
some meetings, first informally with certain An assessment is made three to four weeks after the training, when the supervisors and visors on the apparel floors. The result was the participants in the training answer ques- a working group called the Alterations Pro- ject. In the first phase, the group drew up asingle apparel-related document for the whole Training in work situations (training
by project)
month, always keeping minutes. It con-sists of a technical body (hierarchy and du- Cases of training in work situations (Bar- ties directly related to the problems and so- bier, 1996) are devices aimed at the pro- lutions), the group of the teams involved, which are operational, and the training de- ods with a view to better collective effec- partment as coordinator and moderator. Later, tiveness. All the players involved should it was found that there were other problems have the opportunity to speak, either to de- that needed solving. So there was a second scribe their work and the problems that they round to establish an Alterations Team which come up against or to help find solutions to the problems. This is called training by proj- enforcing the rules drawn up by the group.
ect, because it leads to the development of It had become clear that training needs to individuals as a whole and also because it be done at team and group level and involve similar to project methods. The groupsthat are formed (according to the need to For the assessment, questionnaires were giv- solve different problems) meet more or less en to supervisors and participants and da- regularly. The meetings precede the train- ing, which will be based on the observation complaints before and after the training by of and reflection on them. In this situation, the learning comes from the individuals asthe builders of know-how. No one push- Analysis and discussion of results
es know-how on them; it is only necessaryto encourage them to think about the way implemented, supervisors and others (train-ers, suppliers, training officers) found that Training in its usual sense is not the main the knowledge of almost all the sales as- sistants had improved, that this type of train- Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 71 Results in the four levels of evaluation (Kirkpatrick’s model)
Type of training
1. Reaction to training
2. Learning
3. Transfer
4. Results in the company
without leaving their work stations.
things they learned in the training.
assessment parameters. The salesstaff’s performance went up 2 to3 points on a scale of 1 to 10.
ing had a practical application, that the Another aspect that distinguishes this proj- ect from the company’s previous course- and that - in the opinion of all the sales as- sistants assessed by the supervisors in sim- fewer training sessions. In training by proj- ulations or in their jobs - their performance ect, we work on actual work practices and training and work are fully integrated. Withon-the-job training, transfer and monitor- The results were different for each of the ing is immediate; there is no need to take types of training identified and the training people away from their jobs for training.
course given because the problems and goals Less time is needed for classroom simula- were also different. Not only the form of tions, while reflection before and after train- training, but also the strategies and activi- ties differed in each case. Nevertheless, in all of them we followed a model based ona cyclical process, close to the action re- It is therefore a model that aims at rational- search method. In addition, all of them as- ising training times, with no time wasted on sume that the training meeting itself is a mo- useless information (usually included in pro- ment for reflection on the training. There- grammes just to fill the schedule defined or fore, before each training session, there is a imposed at the beginning). This model is ef- need for preparation and reflection, which fective, produces results for work and for must also continue after the training. So here the organisation and reduces training times, we have a new role in the organisation for making it more efficient. The form and con- the training department and its practition- text of the training obviously have to be ad- ers. They must first ensure that everyone justed to existing conditions and needs. participates, that the trainees and work prac-tices are the focal point of the training, and This project seems to have made an impact, that the others become reflective profes- albeit limited, outside the company, i.e.
sionals. The training department instils cu- riosity, generates research and creates know- ing staff. This way of applying training was way of understanding training. For thosewho had never offered training, this new Evaluating the results in the light of Kirk- way was appealing, helpful and attractive.
patrick’s four levels (1998), we obtain the For the old hands, it at least showed them data shown in the above table. The result of this training method was that training sit- training. From courses that were all defined uations were integrated with work. This was from the start and structured on the basis of what we wanted to happen in order to achieve the product itself or the way the trainer or- ganised the information, we moved on nec- Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 72 essarily to tailor-made training. Thus the Where the targets of the training were con- training path followed corresponded to the cerned, it was important to confront them needs and interests of the training’s customer (as suppliers, buyers, supervisors or sales system (Lopes, 2002), with the trainee as the assistants) with a preliminary analysis of the results of training. Their response may helpunderstand whether the original idea is cor- Often, the training department was the first rect. But we cannot rely completely on the to get suppliers, supervisors, sales assistants targets, as they tend to see things in their and the department store together. Gener- own way and this may hinder their ability ally we found that the suppliers saw them- to stand back and analyse the situation.
selves as partners. After the training wascompleted they often came to tell me about In evaluating, it is essential to recognise how the changes they had noticed in the sales difficult it is to obtain internal results and in- dicators. This is why in classroom trainingwe use self-evaluation or evaluation by oth- Reflection about the study
ers that is based only on people’s percep-tion of actions. We were not able to conduct Difficulties and resistance
evaluations as often as we would have liked.
The more short training sessions are offered, The first difficulty encountered was the ac- the more difficult it is to evaluate them sys- tual design of the action research as a train- tematically. We also have to take into ac- ing strategy, given the shortage of studies count that the sales assistants are asked to assess their knowledge in a questionnairethey fill in before each act of training. The Getting people to behave as thinking prac- supervisors are asked for their cooperation titioners and to be responsible for their own before and after training, in the identifica- training, so that the training does not be- tion and assessment phase. It would be un- come a transmissive exercise, was extremely thinkable, in the two or three weeks after difficult. Neither was it easy to involve the simulations, to ask everyone for an evalu- different partners, who are not usually called ation of all the training. As some of the train- upon to get involved in training. Another ing processes would overlap, we would even problem is that transmissive training and run the risk of getting the wrong evaluation. school training is deeply rooted in tradition.
The attitude of many trainers when teach- Some limitations
ing is one of lecturing; they uncritically ac-cept the idea that their job is to ‘teach’ The limitations of this study had to do main- and ‘train’ others, whose job is respective- ods were concerned, the study was not rep-resentative of all ways of organising train- When trainers are suggested by suppliers or even by brand promoters, it is also neces- sary to define how they should be selected.
that the results and conclusions can be gen- eralised, given the diversity of situations and miliar with the production and manufacture of the products or should we prefer prac-tised sales assistants who know from expe- A considerable limitation was the fact that rience what questions customers ask and are the people who conduct the evaluation are closer to the work culture of the sales as- evaluators (supervisors or trainers) may runthe risk of unintentionally ignoring or min- Another difficulty was the fact that there imising negative aspects in which their re- were several parties involved throughout a sponsibility is involved. It also impossible process that took place during work time.
for them not to be influenced by their own Often, only with persistence did we get the experience and the relationship they have supplier trainers to collaborate. Buyers, too, with the people they are evaluating. The in- were not always available to collaborate in ternal evaluation may therefore not be enough the joint advance activities needed to pre- to assess the results and the functioning of Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 73 The simulation training was given with- out any prior preparation with the suppli- ers, store or buyers. The suppliers would and to help make a final appraisal of the ef- simply offer to come and give training about fects of training. The trainees’ skills should their products, and this was accepted. On have been tested, and this was not done for the other hand, the training department was the simulations. It is easier for an external evaluator to be objective and analyse things ber of training sessions. Often participants at a distance while contributing his or her found that they were already familiar with own point of view. We decided at the out- the product or that they had learnt noth- ing new - even that they did not offer this made, either from customers or suppliers.
product in their sales area. If this had con- It would certainly have been interesting, but tinued, sales assistants and supervisors would it was not feasible at the current stage of have ended up believing that there was no The results of research must obviously be The problem is that usually suppliers are not used to offering training, or else their cours- truth is that we do not know the impact that es are already structured - normally in the personal presence and influence had on the form of PowerPoint presentations. With the field work and results. There may also have action training project, training is tailor-made been a lack of detachment, distance and crit- to meet specific needs. Now everyone knows ical reflection because the practitioner and tive part in planning. In view of the contextand the target population (sales assistants Impact of the study on the
who are often already familiar with the prod- organisation
uct), not that many of the presentations areof interest. It is important to reflect on events that wouldnot have occurred if the previous situation Training is now organised and designed to had continued. Without the action training sales assistants’ skills. Classroom time aims practical situations arising in the store. It is bodies that regulate funded training, or even important to identify the problems involv- the training model used by most companies.
ing products and services as a whole, i.e.
What they all have in common is that train- not only the technical characteristics of the ing is designed on the basis of contents or modules structured into a more or less com- pulsory timetable, and that courses are of- munication established is thus more impor- tant than the information transmitted. Other-wise we could expect supervisors and sales One of the difficulties was the inability to assistants who were unavailable or uninter- ested in the training to be unwilling to take to a lack of data on the impact of training mented, we have noticed that the word and can say is that should the previous situa- concept of training are widely used by all tion have continued - with no planned meth- who have participated in it, guaranteeing ods and without taking the stakeholders in- greater efficiency. As a result, the training department’s role and image in the organi- the changes achieved would not have oc-curred. We feel that the main change is the There are also differences with the other ability to achieve changes in the future. This forms of training introduced during the proj- study showed that it is possible to do things ect, training in a work context and training differently from the way currently in use or by project. Without these it would be dif- ficult to train all new sales assistants, pos- sessing different degrees of knowledge, whogradually join the organisation. It would al- Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 74 so be difficult to arrange shifts for part-time Traditionally, neither the Training Depart- employees, allowing them to participate in classroom training. Today in the apparel de- able. After giving the training, they often feel partments, training is taken to the new re- that their job is done and they then wash cruits and helps with their integration and their hands of any problems that may arise.
development. What is needed now is to ex- With this project, rather than just organising tend the same method to other sales areas.
training and summoning people to take it, For this, we must be able to count on the the training department is involved in the supervisors, who are a central element of process, acting as a partner with the work- the customer system of training. It is not fea- ing groups. From the preparation to the mon- sible for the training department to have itoring and quantitative assessment, the com- pany’s training department is working side type of training would have to involve su- by side with the teams in a constant, cycli- pervisors and other specialists as training cal process of assessing, planning, observ- agents in their own work areas (qualifying them as tutors by giving them training astrainers).
Future research
Training by project was another form of We suggest that other forms of training should training introduced. It involves setting up be studied in the context of the organisation of training in sales and distribution com- ranging problems. The idea is that partici- panies. It would be interesting to analyse pation in the projects and the creation of how certain ways of working create a pro- fessional identity and help build knowledge serve a didactic purpose. If the alterations and skills, not so much through training, but through the organisation of work itself. An dents would have continued to increase and analysis could be made of how work itself each area would have tended to solve prob- lems in its own way and by its own crite- training does. The idea of on-the-job learn- ria. By creating this group, we were able to ing confirms the contribution made by work begin standardising criteria and solving prob- lems on a continuous basis in the apparel of representation, and to knowledge, atti- can detect and address new problems, whichare often solved within new sub-groups.
Another interesting approach in this line Before, needs were identified sporadically.
of research would be to investigate the new role of human resource managers, who should tecting training needs. The new system makes recognise the importance of employees’ ac- it possible to identify and solve problems quiring the capacities and skills to become at any time. At these meetings, the idea is reflecting practitioners. Possible ways of not just to say ‘we need some training’ or working could be analysed with supervisors, to think that training will solve high spend- helping them to identify the changes need- ing on alterations. Supervisors, operators, ed and ways of implementing work process- sales assistants and the Training Department es, coordinating human resources and inte- are all involved in identifying causes of and grating people and management practices.
solutions for problems using a method sim- It would mean analysing people not only as resources with abilities, talents or the nec- against the existing trend, in which a su- essary knowledge for doing a job, but also pervisor leaves it to training to change a for their personalities, attitudes, motivations sales assistant’s practices and gives up any responsibility for changing the way sheworks. We also try to reverse the tenden- On the basis of the proposed model, train- cy of supervisors to avoid responsibility for ing should be seen as a service sui generis the training they should be offering in their of the company that designs it and trans- areas. Each training facet should be incor- forms it into a series of resources. Training porated in the organisation of work itself, giving the organisation the disciplines it this way, fewer and fewer training courses will actually be necessary. It will also be grat- ifying to workers to feel they work in a place Journal EN Nr 34.qxd 19-07-05 15:02 Page 75 the personal and professional lives of their appreciated and used and where their per- staff and take into account the needs and sonal and vocational interests, their life proj- wishes of those involved in the creation of ects and career plans, converge. This idea wealth. In this way, organisations can achieve is in line with the trend in today’s post-bu- reaucratic organisations, which value both Bibliography
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Curriculum vitae

CURRICULUM VITAE Birth Date: Citizenship: Current Position: Chief Professor, Department of Anatomy (Division of Cell biology), School of Medicine, Iwate Medical University (Morioka, Japan) Education: Doctor of Medicine, Asahikawa Medical College Bachelor of Medicine, Iwate Medical University Employment: Chief Professor, Department of Anatomy (Division of Cell biology),


Josh Newell, Siberia Hotspot Program, Friends of the Earth - Japan Siberia The term stems from the Tartar word sibir or sleeping land. To foreigners, the name usually refers to the vast stretch of Russia from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific seacoast in the east. Russians, however, generally consider Siberia’s eastern edge to be a series of mountain ranges stretching from w

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