If we’ve done our recruiting and selecting properly, we should have hired competent individuals who can perform successfully on the job. But successful performance requires more than possessing certain skills. New hires must be acclimated to the organization’s culture and be trained and given the knowledge to do the job in a manner consistent with the organization’s goals. To achieve this, HRM uses orientation and training.
Once a job candidate has been selected, he or she needs to be introduced to the job and organization. This introduction is called orientation. The major goals of orientation are to reduce the initial anxiety all new employees feel as they begin a new job; to familiarize new employees with the job, the work unit, and the organization as a whole; and to facilitate the outsider–insider transition. Job orientation expands on the information the employee obtained during the recruitment and selection stages. The new employee’s specific duties and responsibilities are clarified as well as how his or her performance will be evaluated.
Orientation is also the time to correct any unrealistic expectations new employees might hold about the job. Work unit orientation familiarizes an employee with the goals of the work unit, makes clear how his or her job contributes to the unit’s goals, and provides an introduction to his or her coworkers. Organization orientation informs the new employee about the organization’s goals, history, philosophy, procedures, and rules. This information includes relevant HR policies such as work hours, pay procedures, overtime requirements, and benefits. And a tour of the organization’s physical facilities is often part of this orientation.
Managers have an obligation to make the integration of a new employee into the organization as smooth and anxiety-free as possible. Successful orientation, whether formal or informal, results in an outsider–insider transition that makes the new member feel comfortable and fairly well-adjusted, lowers the likelihood of poor work performance, and reduces the probability of a surprise resignation by the new employee only a week or two into the job.
On the whole, planes don’t cause airline accidents, people do. Most collisions, crashes, and other airline mishaps—nearly three-quarters of them—result from errors by the pilot or air traffic controller, or from inadequate maintenance. Weather and structural failures typically account for the remaining accidents. We cite these statistics to illustrate the importance of training in the airline industry. Such maintenance and human errors could be prevented or significantly reduced by better employee training, as shown by the amazing “landing” of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January 2009 with no loss of life. Pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger attributed the positive outcome to the extensive and intensive training that all pilots and flight crews undergo.
Employee training is a learning experience that seeks a relatively permanent change in employees by improving their ability to perform on the job. Thus, training involves changing skills, knowledge, attitudes, or behavior. This change may involve what employees know, how they work, or their attitudes toward their jobs, coworkers, managers, and the organization. It’s been estimated, for instance, that U.S. business firms spend billions each a year on formal courses and training programs to develop workers’ skills. Managers, of course, are responsible for deciding when employees are in need of training and what form that training should take.
Determining training needs typically involves answering several questions. If some of these questions sound familiar, you’ve been paying close attention. It’s precisely the type of analysis that takes place when managers develop an organizational structure to achieve their strategic goals—only now the focus is on the people.
The questions suggest the kinds of signals that can warn a manager when training may be necessary. The more obvious ones are related directly to productivity. Indications that job performance is declining include decreases in production numbers, lower quality, more accidents, and higher scrap or rejection rates. Any of these outcomes might suggest that worker skills need to be fine-tuned. Of course, we’re assuming that an employee’s performance decline is in no way related to lack of effort. Managers, too, must also recognize that training may be required because the workplace is constantly evolving. Changes imposed on employees as a result of job redesign or a technological breakthrough also require training.