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Rethinking Professional Skill Development in Competitive Corporate World: Accelerating Time-To-Expertise of Employees at Workplace


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Professional skill development was never as critical as it has become with the changing nature of globalized work place. With the change in pace of business, the customer expectations from organizations has increased in terms of squeezed time-to-market, faster response to customer needs and demands for better services. Organizations are increasingly becoming focused on how workplace professional skill development of employees can be structured or orchestrated to shorten time-to-professional expertise of their employees. It is becoming increasingly challenging for organizations to develop their employees at faster rate so that they can perform their job even more efficiently and effectively. The longer time-to-proficiency of employees may impact time-to-market of organizations and may also result in losing business to competition. This paper presents the review of previous research studies on current modes and modalities of professional skill development in organizations and present initial findings on training and development approaches taken by organizations to accelerate time-to-professional expertise of their employees. This paper is aimed at making a wider call-for-research in the area of organizations’ focus on shortening the time to develop professional skills of their employees.

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Rethinking Professional Skill Development in Competitive Corporate World: Accelerating Time-To-Expertise of Employees at Workplace

  1. 1. Raman K. Attri Rethinking Professional Skill Development in Competitive Corporate World: Accelerating Time-To-Expertise of Employees at Workplace Research Paper Presented at Conference on Education and Human Development in Asia Hiroshima Japan 2-4 March 2014
  2. 2. “Develo p m en t al p r o cess o f acq u ir in g , exp an d in g , r ef in in g , an d su st ain in g kn o w led g e, p r o f icien cy, skill, an d q u alif icat io n s f o r co m p et en t p r o f essio n al f u n ct io n in g t h at r esu lt in p r o f essio n alism . It co m p r ises b o t h (a) t h e in t er n al t asks o f clar if yin g p r o f essio n al o b ject ives, cr yst allizin g p r o f essio n al id en t it y, in cr easin g self -aw ar en ess an d co n f id en ce, an d sh ar p en in g r easo n in g , t h in kin g , r ef lect in g , an d ju d g m en t an d (b ) t h e so cial/co n t ext u al d im en sio n o f en h an cin g in t er p er so n al asp ect s o f p r o f essio n al f u n ct io n in g an d b r o ad en in g p r o f essio n al au t o n o m y”. (Elman, Illfelder-Kaye, Robiner, 2005, p. 368).
  3. 3. Professional Skill Development in Organizational Context Develop skills and competence of employees through several activities like on-the-job training, participation in project work, special assignment, job rotation, job shadowing, attending specialized courses, networking and industry interface among several other things.
  4. 4. Refers to formal courses and programs in professional education and to the formal and informal development of professional skill that occurs in the workplace (Dall’Alba & Sandberg, 2006, p. 384). Refers to both formal and informal learning experiences and processes that leads to deepened understanding and improvement of practice. (Broad & Evan, 2006). Participation in training and development courses is a key variable of developing professional skill and professional expertise, especially for the starters and mid-range employees. (Van der Heijen, 2002).
  5. 5. Dr e y f us & Dr e y f us Mod e l of Nov ice t o Ex p e r t Skill Acq uisit ion (1980, 1986, 1986a, 2008) Practical Wisdom Deliberate Practice (Erickson, 1994) Novice Advanced Beginner Competent / Competency Reproducibility of Performance Proficient / Proficiency Expert / Expertise Master / Mastery
  6. 6. Proficiency “Mastery of a specific behavior or skill demonstrated by consistently superior performance, measured against established or popular standards”. (Business Dictionary) 7
  7. 7. Proficiency According to Dreyfus & Dreyfus (1980, 1986, 1986a, 2008) model, at ‘proficient’ level individual exhibit a consistent superior performance characterized by reliability, repeatability, reproducibility and consistency of his skills regardless of the situation, problem and challenge. 8
  8. 8. Proficiency in Corporate context Le ar n in g Pat h s (2 0 1 3 ) d e f in e s it as a st ag e w h e n e m p loy e e is in d e p e n d e n t ly p r od uct iv e , f ully f un ct ion in g an d up t o sp e e d .
  9. 9. Organizations are increasingly inclined to make proficiency as minimum target for their corporate training goals for the employee professional skill development.
  10. 10. Sch r o ed er , 1987). Gen er ally m easu r ed eit h er f r o m h is d ay o f h ir e o r f r o m t h e d ay h e u n d er g o es f ir st t r ain in g t o lear n h is jo b . Th is t im e also in vo lves t im e sp en t o n OJT an d o t h er allied act ivit ies t o g ain p r o f icien cy . Time-To-Proficiency (TTP) Tim e t aken b y an in d ivid u al t o acq u ir e t h e skills n ecessar y t o r each t o a level w h er e h is p er f o r m an ce can b e d eem ed as “p r o f icien t ” o r exh ib it in g ‘d esir ed p r o f icien cy’. (Pin d er an d
  11. 11. Concept of Accelerating Timeto-Proficiency (TTP)
  12. 12. Why Organizations need to Accelerate TTP? • For organizations time-to-market is reducing and that results in heightened expectations of organizations to develop their employees to ‘desired proficiency’ in shorter time. • “You need to know the level of performance required to do the job and how long it takes to get there…..when you can get employees up-to speed in far less time, productivity rises at far less expense”. (Williams and Rosenbaum, 2004 in Learning Paths)
  13. 13. Business Impact of Accelerating TTP “ I f we can reduce t he t ime it t ak es t o become ex pert or at least proficient performers, we can save our organizat ions a lot of money, increase ret ent ion rat es, reduce errors, and improve cust omer sat isfact ion” ( Rosenheck , 2 0 0 5 ) The poor t ime-t o-proficiency may result in higher cost s t o organizat ions. “ Every minut e, employees are less t han fully proficient , has a direct financial impact on t he organizat ion” ( Learning Pat hs, 2 0 1 3 , p.1 3 )
  14. 14. Rethinking Training to Proficiency Building proficient learners through training requires exposing them to several real-life situations and build their intuitive skills during training event (Billett, 2001; Borko et al., 1997; Mol, 2002; Grenier and Kehrhahn, 2008). This experience can be accumulated only while a professional is on-the-job or alternatively the training approach is designed in such a way that practice component is built into the curriculum. This calls for different set of training strategies which can help organizations to achieve faster time-to-proficiency of their employees.
  15. 15. Three Approaches to Accelerate Professional Skill Development to Proficiency / Expertise
  16. 16. Accelerated OJT Approach
  17. 17. Proficiency Based Training Approach
  18. 18. Restructured Training Intervention Approach
  19. 19. What research says? 2/28/2014 Several studies attempt in providing insight into how training can be used to build certain level of proficiency of employees and to accelerate it. • Multiple intelligence model (Gardner, 1973, 1983): Training can have dramatic effect on performance. Multiple intelligence can be created using appropriate training methods. • Novice to Expert skill Acquisition (Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 1986): A learner passes through 5 levels as he move from being a novice to expert. These 5 levels are novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient and expert. • Expert Performance Model (Erickson, 1994): It takes 10,000 hours or 10-years (20 hours for 50 weeks a year for ten years = 10,000) of intense training and ‘deliberate practice’ to become an expert in almost anything. • Proficiency acquisition model (Sternberg, 1998): Developing proficiency or expertise have five key elements: metacognitive skills, learning skills, thinking skills, knowledge and motivation. Motivation drives metacognitive skills which in turn activate learning and thinking skills, which then provide feedback to the metacognitive skills, enabling one’s level of expertise to increase. • S-OJT Model for expertise development (Jacobs, 2002): A structure process of defining, tracking, monitoring and managing OJT to develop workplace expertise Copyrights © Raman K. Attri
  20. 20. What research says? 2/28/2014 • Acclimation to Proficiency Model (Alexander, 2003): Using correct synergy of three components namely: knowledge (domain and topic), strategic processing (surface and deep), and interest (long term and situational) it is possible to design suitable training interventions to move learner to proficiency / expertise stage. • Inquiry based training techniques (various): Learners can be developed as proficient by exposing them to several real-life situations and build their intuitive skills during training event- problem based learning, simulation based training, case based method and other situated learning techniques to make novices to think like experts. • Expertise-based Training (Fadde, 2009): Instructional activities can be designed by repurposing expertise-novice tasks to systematically train key cognitive sub-skills of expertise and that targeted training of key cognitive skills can hasten learners along their individual paths to expertise. • Building expertise using cognitive strategies (Clark, 2008): Training strategies to build the expertise through training using range of techniques starting from managing cognitive load to part-task technique for building expertise, retention and skill practice, etc. • Learning Paths (Williams and Rosenbaum, 2004): Leaning path claims that by aligning the training, on-the-job assignments and supporting infrastructure upon hiring of an employee, organizations can reduce time-to-proficiency by 30%. Copyrights © Raman K. Attri
  21. 21. End Note • Several researchers established the possibility to produce professionals in a training event at higher level of proficiency than today using some special training strategies. • However, existing studies do not specify any comprehensive mechanism of accelerating the proficiency either through training or otherwise. (Hoffman, Andrews & Feltovich, 2012) • “Empirical fact about expertise (i.e., that it takes a long time) sets the stage for an effort at demonstrating the acceleration of the achievement of proficiency.” (Hoffman, Andrews & Feltovich, 2012, p. 9). • Preliminary research in literature shows three different approaches to accelerating time-to-proficiency which requires further investigation of training strategies and methods used in each of these three approaches.
  22. 22. About the Author Raman K. Attri Raman K. Attri is a training transformation consultant, learning strategist and researcher with over 20 years of experience in engineering, management and technical training. His primary focus is to provide strategic directions to organizations to implement competitive training strategies to develop workforce with higher order technical competencies in shorter time. Equipped with over 50 educational credentials, currently he is pursuing his Doctorate in Business Administration from Sothern Cross University, Australia. 2/28/2014 Copyrights © Raman K. Attri