Archive for May, 2014

Planning for a Needs Assessment

Southwest_Airlines

For this week’s assignment, students were asked to choose a company and learn about that company’s customers, services, products, mission, and objectives. Based on that information, we were to prepare for completing a needs assessment. “Needs assessment refers to the process used to determine whether training is necessary” (Noe, 2013). Throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies, I have read many examples of excellent customer service portrayed by Southwest Airlines. Therefore, I was excited to choose Southwest Airlines as the company to use for this exercise.

Mission Statement for Customers

southwest_large

The above mission statement is intended for the customers of Southwest Airlines, but there is also a mission statement intended for their employees. It shows the great consideration the company has by encouraging and retaining their staff.

Mission Statement for Employees

“We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected   to share externally with every Southwest customer” (Southwest Airlines Co., 2014).

 Products/ Service

“Southwest Airlines is now America’s largest low-fare carrier, serving more Customers domestically than any other airline with a unique combination of low fares with no annoying fees, friendly Customer Service delivered by outstanding People, safe and reliable operations, and an extraordinary corporate Culture that extends into the communities we serve” (Southwest Airlines Co., 2014).

Consumers

“Dallas-based Southwest Airlines continues to differentiate itself from other carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by nearly 45,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually” (Southwest Airlines Co., 2014).

Management Philosophy

“Not only were Southwest employees trained to give excellent customer service, they were also empowered to do so. When people with the right attitude are hired and trained according to the company’s customer service standards, they can be confident that the employee will make the right decisions” (Campbell, 2010). This is just one of many examples of the corporate philosophies illustrated at Southwest Airlines. The article found at http://www.tmcnet.com/channels/customer-support-software/articles/87080-how-southwest-airlines-became-model-customer-loyalty.htm provides several more examples.

 Strategic Objectives

“Southwest Airlines’ number one priority is to ensure the personal Safety of each Southwest Customer and Employee. Beyond this, we follow “The Golden Rule,” which means we treat each other the way we want to be treated, which is why doing the right thing by our Employees and Customers is so inherent to who we are” (Southwest Airlines Co., 2008). More information about Southwest’s dedication to their customers, employees, communities, and planet can be found at http://www.southwest.com/assets/pdfs/corporate-commitments/southwestcares.pdf.

Stakeholders

Upper-level managers, mid-level managers, and trainers should all be involved in the needs assessment process. Upper-level managers would include CEO Gary Kelly and company directors that would be able to give broad company views of how training would benefit the strategic objectives. Mid-level managers such as department managers would be able to help determine who should receive training and how many resources would be used to develop and deliver the training. Trainers would be able to determine how training programs should be designed, developed, and delivered to best reach participants. It is important for trainers to determine how supportive upper-level and mid-level managers are in the training process. In addition, employees can give a great indication of what should be included in training and how they best learn and use the material to transfer to their position.

Organizational Analysis

Upper-Level Managers: Is training needed to successfully meet the business objectives? Will training benefit employees in relation to retention and job growth? Will training benefit customers by improving service and production? What resources is the company willing to utilize for training?

Mid-Level Managers: How many resources from your department are you willing to utilize for training? What needs do you hope to benefit from training? Will training help hire, retain, and grow employees? How active are you willing to be before, during, and after the training program to ensure proper design, development, presentation, and utilization?

Trainers: How supportive are managers in the training program? Do I have the resources needed to properly integrate the training program? Do we have SMEs that can help with training program content and development?

Person Analysis

Upper-Level Managers: Do specific employees in certain positions or departments need training? What needs to be accomplished to meet business objectives?

Mid-Level Managers: Do specific employees in certain positions or departments need training?

Trainers: How do I determine which specific employees in what positions or departments need training? Do some employees within these positions or departments need more specialized training than others?

Task Analysis

Upper-Level Managers: “Does the company have people with the knowledge, skills, and abilities or competencies needed to compete in the workplace?” (Noe, 2013).

Mid-Level Managers: “For what jobs can training make the biggest difference in product quality or customer service?” (Noe, 2013).

Trainers: How do I determine what tasks should be trained for which positions and/ or departments? How do I determine which skills and knowledge (prerequisites) are needed to completed the training?

Documents/Records

  • Current and past training modules, manuals, presentations
  • Training feedback through surveys and interviews
  • Department Turnover Reports
  • Customer Service Ratings
  • Flight Percentages

Techniques

Observation: This would allow the trainer to observe what is working and what is not working in current work duties. This would also allow me to gain a greater understanding of where there are opportunities for improvement.

Focus groups: A focus group consisting of new hires and experienced employees who can give insight to current and past training, what they would like to see in future training, and how they would like to see the training presented.

Online technology: Online training programs could help employees who do not meet prerequisites. This would allow these employees to complete tasks at their own pace and ensure they have needed knowledge before attending training. Online technology could also be used for confidential surveys. Some employees feel uncomfortable giving honest feedback in a group setting.

Interviews with SMEs: Interviews would allow the trainer to learn required skills and knowledge needed to complete the training, and determine how the SME could help with design and development of training material.

Conclusion

It was very important for me to identify company values when researching for this assignment, and it is clear that Southwest Airlines is determined to offer excellent service to their customers as well as their employees. Therefore, it is extremely important that ample time is put into the needs assessment for this company. They strive to make work fun and produce great results while saving money as much as possible. The more upper-level managers, mid-level managers, trainers, and subject matter experts can work together to clearly outline resources, determine the right participants, determine how the training will meet business objectives, and offer support throughout the training process, the more successful the outcome.

References

Campbell, S. J. (2010, June 2). How Southwest Airlines became a model for customer loyalty. Retrieved May 16, 2014, from http://www.tmcnet.com: http://www.tmcnet.com/channels/customer-support-software/articles/87080-how-southwest-airlines-became-model-customer-loyalty.htm

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Southwest Airlines Co. (2008). Southwest Cares: Doing the Right Thing.

Southwest Airlines Co. (2014). About Southwest. Retrieved May 16, 2014, from http://www.southwest.com: http://www.southwest.com/html/about-southwest/index.html?tab=5

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Training and Development

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin

Training and Development Elevator Speech

It is hard to believe that so many of today’s organizations still do not see the ultimate potential that training and development can have on the success of a business. Training can impact motivation, employee performance, and can contribute to new development, production, and business growth. Imagine if your company were to produce the best new product on the market, however no one ever took the time to train employees or customers how to use that product. Your business might lose out on substantial profit because of this misstep.

Image In order to stay competitive in today’s market, organizations must realize that “Training is not a luxury; it is a necessity if companies are to participate in the global and electronic marketplaces by offering high quality products and services” (Noe, 2013). Many companies believe that training must be time-consuming and costly in order to be effective, however this is not always the case. Simply incorporating informal training such as employee mentoring, a company blog, or on-the-job training can offer benefits that will support the business strategy, including hiring and retaining productive employees. The essential goal of training and development is learning, and learning can be achieved in a multitude of ways with a little time, motivation, and creativity!  References: Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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