Letters

first_imgLettersOn 23 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. This week’s lettersTraining thoughts need to be directed outside of the boxTraining has an image problem. Too many see participation in training as apunishment for poor performance, as a sign of failure. This is because traininghas allowed itself to be thought of, for too long, not as the tungsten tip ofthe organisation, but as some sort of remedial backwater. Let’s face it, the industry doesn’t do itself any favours with the strangelanguage it habitually employs. ‘Behavioural objectives’, ‘transactionalanalysis’, ‘neuro-linguistic programming’? It’s the language of a professionlooking for academic credibility, but more often than not ends up soundingmerely faddish. Pick some half-baked theory, package it in pseudo-serious languageand present it as science. Bang, you’re in the training business. Well, sciencethis is not… unless we’re talking ‘out-of-date, largely discredited’ science.Too much of this modish conceptual clap-trap draws on behaviourism, forwhich the presiding genius was one BF Skinner (1904-1990). Skinner is best known today as the man who kept his daughter in a box andextrapolated his theories of human psychology from experiments on pigeons – forwhich purpose he invented a different type of box, called the Skinner Box. An animal placed inside the Skinner Box is rewarded with a morsel of foodeach time it makes a desired response, such as pressing a lever or pecking akey. Skinner discovered and elaborated his principles of ‘operantconditioning’, a type of learning based solely around rewards and punishments. Skinner believed that everything we do, and everything we are, is shaped bysuch rewards and punishments. Consequently, training (whether it’s for pigeons,dogs or human beings) should begin and end with a stick and a carrot. Thepoint, for Skinner, was not to understand behaviour, but to control it. This is an attitude whose principles can still be seen underpinning asurprising quantity of the training world’s more ‘sheep-dip’ approaches today, aswell as some of the cruder thinking about organisational learning, which tendsto see learning as a strictly linear process, imposed by the organisation, withno requirement for trainee buy-in to be effective. The persistence of such ideas is all the more surprising because the type ofthinking Skinner represented has long been a busted flush in mainstreamscience. Faddish and backward-looking, maybe training needs to get out of thatSkinner Box. Or maybe it just needs to get out more. Donald Clark Chief executive, Epic Group plc Prime example of how not to do it All the talk of open and fair recruitment from Government seems to onlystretch so far. Alistair Campbell resigns from his post of communications director, and bythe end of the day his successor has been appointed, the job has been revampedand the new structure is being implemented upon advice from outside. Why should any employer pay heed to the laws on sex, race and disabilitydiscrimination and follow recruitment good practice, if, when he has a vacancy,the Prime Minster calls up an old pal who gets the job without any form ofprocess being followed? Robert Hicks HR manager, Details supplied OH practitioners can help solve problems I have reviewed with interest the correspondence in Personnel Today and alsoyour articles in the 2 September issue on sick notes and absence management. Iwas surprised that very few of your contributors referred to occupationalmedicine and the benefits that such services can bring to the workplace. Occupational medicine is not a new speciality. Since the dawn of time it hasbeen recognised by physicians that ‘work’ and ‘health’ are inextricably linked.Occupational health practitioners are an under-used resource in thiscountry. Why should the general practitioner or hospital specialist be able topronounce on an individual’s fitness for work? Most hospital doctors or generalpractitioners have never worked in industry, and many have never entered afactory or production facility. Occupational health practitioners, doctors andnurses, however, in addition to their general medical training – and in manycases years of practice in hospital and general practice – have also undertakenpostgraduate specialist training in law, health and safety, toxicology andmanagement techniques. Such individuals are able to facilitate dialogue betweenthe world of work and the world of medicine, understanding and being able toaddress the needs and concerns of both. GPs and hospital doctors are not usually aware of risk assessments, duty ofcare, phased return-to-work programmes, in-house employee assistance programmesand the length that managers and HR professionals go to in order to addressindividual employee needs. There is significant case law to support the fact that where an employer hastaken the advice of a competent occupational health specialist, and where thisadvice differs from the advice of the GP, the former’s advice can overrule thatof the latter. The responsibility for managing all absence is that of the line manager, whomust draw on all the available expertise from legal consultants, HRprofessionals and occupational health specialists to arrive at a fair,equitable and informed decision. This expertise is there to manage health issues within the workplace, so useit. Just because a managing director plays golf with the local doctor is notenough. Would you consult an electrical engineer about the foundations for yourhouse or go to an employment lawyer for a tax problem? It is important to choosethe right specialist for the job. Dr John Mason Occupational Health Physician ‘Elitist’ CIPD club is tick-list nightmare I should like to put forward a point of view on behalf of all those highly skilledHR people out there who do not have the coveted qualification from theChartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). I have been working in HR for more than 25 years, the past 15 at the mostsenior level. I was recently made redundant and, having never been out of workbefore, assumed that it would be relatively easy to find a fulfilling role. Notso. I was under this illusion because I have never had to look for work in thepast. Unfortunately, my network is not coming up with the goods this time, so Idecided it was time for me to trawl the ads, agencies, and so on. Imagine my horror then to find that, in the main, those of us without a CIPDqualification are barred from even the most junior HR roles. I have no problem with this formal qualification, but when it is used as afilter by HR departments who are too lazy or incapable of assessing someone’sactual skill, it begins to look like a closed shop. A CIPD qualification does equip a person for the mechanics of HR management.However, the good management of a workforce requires more than skills learnedin class. My experience in the past three months has appalled me. I have applied fornearly 75 jobs and have had replies from less than 10 per cent – does the CIPDqualification also teach people to treat anyone who doesn’t match their‘tick-list’ with utter disrespect? Details supplied E-learning needs to try and make it ‘real’ Your article on e-learning (22 July) suggests that companies are now takinga more ‘realistic approach’ to this training method. I beg to differ – how elsecan the packed ‘e-learning’ workshop I attended just a few months ago beexplained? The whole day was spent justifying the costs of e-learning – for example, bycomparing it with extra face-to-face training that organisations had nointention of delivering anyway. With hindsight, the fact that I had to fax back my confirmation should haveacted as an early warning. The workshop was too heavily dependent on flipchartsand Blu-Tac to demonstrate what could be achieved electronically. Equally, the ‘money-up-front’ licence deals that are typical in themarketplace suggest that e-learning providers have no faith that the endconsumer will actually use the products they sell. It’s inconceivable that ReedTraining’s clients would be asked to pay at the start of the year for theirannual training spend and then accept that we didn’t care who or how many oftheir employees turned up, and whether they learned anything. This selling technique, more usually seen in the software market thantraining, is often mirrored by the top-down imposition of e-learning from thevery highest levels of management within an organisation. To justify what canbe extremely high costs – for example, 2,000 licenses at £250 each per annum –cost-benefit analyses comparing the merits of different types of training areoften manipulated, and ignore the fact that e-learning take-up is notoriouslypoor. We must subject e-learning to the same rigorous tests we set for moretraditional training, and be convinced it is meaningful, cost-effective andmost of all relevant, before giving it house room. Mike Norman Managing director, Reed Training Legislation leaves employers in limbo I fully concur with the sentiments echoed by other HR colleagues (Letters, 2September). Employers are not asking GP’s to ‘police’ attendance, what we areasking is that GP’s do not take it on themselves to ‘sign’ people off withstress/depression if they are not fully qualified to do so. It is also not effective to send employees to occupational doctors. I cangive numerous examples where our occupational health contractor has informed usthat we cannot contact or speak to staff because of their stressful condition.However, these same employees are perfectly OK when it comes to asking forextension of sick pay, and so on. In addition, the amount of work involved in dealing with these cases from anHR perspective is huge. As ever, legislation has virtually rendered employersalmost powerless to act quickly, and by default has also introduced lengthyabsence management processes. Carol Mitchell Personnel and health and safety manager, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

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