Viva is a leading provider of risk, savings and investment management products based in UK, with operations also in France, Germany, Netherlands, USA, Gulf and India. Being established in 1836, the company serves nearly seven million customers worldwide.
Viva has organised its foreign operations efficiently, taking into account local specifications. For example, the company offers Takaful products in Gulf countries, that is financial products that have been devised according to Sharia Islamic laws, due to the fact that local customers are very sensitive about these issues. Also, Viva has engaged in joint-ventures in India with Bank of Baroda, and Andhra Bank.
This article briefly introduces Viva Company and discusses the various elements of development scheme that group has proposed for the company in the form of presentation. Moreover, additional development elements are included in the article, and the rationale behind the choice of each element is explained in detail, listing their advantages, as well as disadvantages.
Training and Development Schemes for Viva
Initially the purpose of training and development scheme for Viva managers have been identified. The primary purpose for the scheme has been found as equipping Viva managers with necessary skills and knowledge so that they can manage the business globally in the most efficient manner.
Moreover, the following purposes of training development as proposed by Beardwell et al (2004) were planned to be achieved for Viva as a result of the project:
a) Maximising productivity and service provision for the company
b) Developing the adaptability for the workforce
c) Developing the Viva as an organisation as a whole
d) Increasing job satisfaction, motivation and morale of Viva workforce
e) Improving standards and safety at work
f) Promoting the Better utilisation of other resources
g) Standardisation of work practices and procedures
Wood (2009) divides trainings methods into two categories: traditional training methods, and electronic training methods. Traditional training methods include lectures, on-the-job training, apprenticeship training, offside training, programmed learning, informal learning, job instruction training, and training stimulated by audiovisual tools.
As a traditional training method, on-the-job training includes job rotation, coaching, and action learning, whereas the main elements of off-the-job training (offside training) are case-study, games, external seminars, Internet-based seminars and conferences, university-related programs, role-playing, behavioural modelling, Internet educational portals, and behavioural modelling.
The main elements of electronic training are computer-based training, video-conferencing, electronic performance support systems, tele-training, learning portals and others.
During the group presentation on the same topic, which is the base of this report, communication skills, and team-working were found to be the areas training and development should address. However, the present report has found that cross-cross cultural awareness is also an important area training and development programs should cover. Due to the fact that Viva is currently operating outside UK in Gulf countries and countries like France, Germany, USA, Netherlands, and India lack of cultural awareness of Viva managers may result in misunderstandings and waste of resources. Therefore, the area of cultural awareness was selected to be important to address through training and development programs.
After critically analysing all the above listed training and development methods, focusing on the objectives to be achieved as a result of training, taking into account specific characteristics of Viva and many other factors, training and development methods for Viva management development were selected to include the elements of both traditional and computer-based training methods. The choice of training and development methods proposed in this report differs from the ones proposed in the group presentation.
Traditional training methods selected for Viva management development include lectures, and job-rotation, and behaviour modelling, while among electronic training methods only video conferencing was selected.
Rationale behind the Choice of Training and Development Schemes
Supervisor and team development programs for Viva have been implemented on the basis of the following five-step process as proposed by Dessler (2008):
Firstly, needs analysis for Viva managers have been undertaken. This has been done for both, Viva current managers, as well as, their new managers. As a part of needs analysis task analysis and performance analysis also have been undertaken for Viva managers.
Paauwe (2004) specifies task analysis to be a detailed study of the job to be undertaken in order to identify skills required for the job. Accordingly, list of skills have been identified that Viva managers had to possess, and among them communication skills and team management have been chosen as the focus of training and development by the consulting group to the company. Moreover, cross-cultural awareness skills have been added to the list as the one that needs attention as a result of this report, although the skills of cross-cultural awareness do not feature in group presentation.
Performance analysis, on the other hand, as Shermon (2004) informs, examine individual and collective performances within organisations in order to identify deficiencies, then training and development programs can be devised in order to eliminate these performance deficiencies. Unfortunately, due to the absence of access to such kind of confidential information about Viva managers, performance analysis have not been undertaken as a part of the study.
Secondly, instructional design of the training and development programs for Viva managers has been undertaken. During this stage lectures, job rotation, behaviour modelling and video-conferencing were found to be the best possible methods of training and development for Viva. Although these methods are different from the ones proposed in group presentation, nevertheless, they were found to be the best option during this report.
Lectures should be organised for Viva managers by engaging external professionals that will aim at improving communication skills of managers
Viva managers also should be put on job rotations, in order to expose them to different issues the company has in general, and at the same time giving them opportunities to acquire team management and cross cultural skills that will allow managers to operate well within various departments of the company.
Behaviour Modelling has also been identified as an important element of training and development program devised for Viva managers. Dessler (1984) informs that behaviour modelling includes three following components:
a) Showing trainees the right (or “model”) method of performing a task
b) Giving opportunities to trainees to perform in this way
c) Giving feedback on the trainees’ performance.
It has been planned that behaviour modelling will address all three areas of training and development programs – communication skills, team management, and cross-cultural awareness.
Moreover, video-conferencing has also been specified as an element of proposed training a d development program that should be organised in a way that Viva managers engaged in company’s foreign operations must share their cultural experiences and their knowledge about cultural awareness through video-conferencing with other Viva managers based in UK.
In-house development centres needn’t produce all (or most) of their own training and development programs. In fact, employers are increasingly collaborating with academic institutions, training and development program providers, and Web-based educational portals to create packages of programs and materials appropriate to their employees’ needs
Thirdly, all of the above specified elements of training and development program devised for Viva managers have been validated through checking their validity to accomplish the task in hand.
Fourthly, devised training and development program needs to be implemented according to the plan. This should be done attracting highly qualified professionals wherever necessary.
Fifthly, evaluation of the Viva management training and development program should be undertaken, in order to identify any shortcomings that took place in the process and eliminate their possibility in future training a d development programs.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Training and Development Schemes
Each element of the proposed scheme of Viva managers’ training and development program has its strengths, as well as weaknesses. It is the responsibility of professionals conducting training and development, and Viva management in general to focus on the strengths of the proposed program, and at the same time, to take measures in order to minimise the impact of their weaknesses.
Lectures as one of the main elements of the proposed training and development scheme have their strengths such as being less expensive compared to some other training and development methods, short period of time required to conduct them, and also lectures are usually taught by highly skilled professionals giving Viva managers participating on them opportunity ask these professionals questions.
On the other hand, lectures have their weaknesses, the main of which is The possibility that the attention of Viva managers participating in them may be shifted to different things if they find it not to be interesting.
Moreover, Laird et al (2003) state that usually in majority of lectures there are no provisions for student participation and this is another major disadvantage of this training method.
The strengths of video-conferencing as a training method for Viva managers can be shown as being interesting and motivating, especially when high-achievers within the company working in foreign operations are sharing their cultural experiences with junior managers through video conferencing.
However, the weaknesses of video-conferencing include the necessity of relevant facilities, and accordingly, additional expenses, and also there might be time-related issues when meetings between people from different countries are being organised on the basis of video-conferencing.
Job-rotation has also been included in the proposal as an element of training and development scheme for Viva managers. Job rotations are good in a way that they provide opportunities for increased level of social interaction and they can also eliminate the monotony in the workplace for Viva employees. However, according Byars and Rue (2006) job rotations can be a source of stress for employees, especially when they start losing sense of ownership of their job as a result of job-rotation.
Strengths of behaviour modelling as an element of training and development scheme is that many skills can be taught by at the same time by using them, and this option is not available in many other training and development elements. However, at the same time, behaviour modelling proposes rigid solutions to problems, failing to take into account unusual circumstances, and this may negatively effect flexibility of Viva managers when dealing with unusual scenarios.
The scheme proposed in this report contains correct training and development elements that are required to equip Viva team leaders and supervisors with necessary skills and knowledge required in order operate on the global business marketplace. As a result of the extensive analysis issues needed to be addressed were found by group to be communications skills and team management skills. However, additional skill of cross-cultural awareness was added to the list above due to the fact that Viva operates in several foreign counties as well and the lack of such knowledge would negatively effect on the profitability of the business on the short and long-term perspectives.
Many methods of training and development programs have been reviewed as a part of the research, and out of them lectures, job-rotation, video-conferencing, and behaviour modelling were found to be the most appropriate in order to improve communication skills, team management skills, and increase the level of cross-cultural awareness of Viva supervisors and managers.
However, it has to be also noted that in order to bring the maximum results, training and development elements specified above need to be conducted with highly qualified professionals. Otherwise, it would result in losses in forms of wasted time, as well as other forms of resources involved in the project.
Moreover, organisational culture of Viva need to be taken into account when above specified elements of training and development program are being conducted, and these programs need to be taught in a style that is compatible with the Viva corporate culture.
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