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TRAINING THE WORKFORCE

NICOLETA MUNTEAN

2008
TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION...........................................................................................................3

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I. INTRODUCTION

Training, development and skills are key aspects of economic life. At the levels of
the firm and the national economy training offers the hope of increased
competitiveness through raising skill levels, productivity and “value added”. For
trade unions and professional associations, training enhances members’
expertise, facilitating negotiations for pay and status. While, for individuals, given
that life chances are still heavily influenced by the job a person does and the
wages they earn, education and training can increase knowledge and
opportunities, give access to more highly rewarded work and reduce the prospect
of unemployment.

Small wonder then that consensus exists in this area that governments
encourage training through regulations or exhortation, or that employers praise
its importance in surveys.

In common with other human resources practices, training should not be
considered in isolation. Its effectiveness, or otherwise, hinges on the wider
economic and organisational context.

The advantages of training and development are not illusory. Within
organisations, it can equip workers to carry out tasks, monitor quality and
manage complex products and services.

Training and development safeguards such productivity as well as supporting it,
by preparing employees for future jobs and insulating firms from skills shortages.
When jobs can be filled internally, firm are less dependent on the outside labour
market and does not risk appropriate recruits not being available (or not available
at the price the organization wishes to pay).

The benefits to organizations are matched by advantages that individuals can
gain. According to human capital theory (Becker 1964) the more investment an
individual makes in themselves, the greater their lifetime returns, through
increased earnings, fewer (and shorter) periods of unemployment and access to
more interesting work.

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II. TRAINING VERSUS DEVELOPMENT
Although training is often used in conjunction with development, the terms are
not synonymous. Training typically focuses on providing employees with specific
skills or helping those correct deficiencies in their performance. For example,
new equipment may require workers to learn new ways of doing the job or worker
may have a deficient understanding of a work process. In both cases, training
can be used to correct the skill deficit. In contrast, development is an effort to
provide employees with the abilities the organization will need in the future.

Figure 1 summarizes the differences between training and development. In
training, the focus is solely on the current job; in development, the focus is on
both the current job and jobs that employees will hold in the future. The scope of
training is on individual employees, whereas the scope of development is on the
entire work group or organization. This is, training is job specific and addresses
particular performance deficits or problems. In contrast, development is
concerned with the work force’s skills and versatility. Training tends to focus on
immediate organizational needs and development tends to focus on long-term
requirements. The goal of training is a fairly quick improvement in workers’
performance, whereas the goal of development is the overall enrichment of the
organization’s human resources. Training strongly influences present
performance levels, whereas development pays off in terms of more capable and
flexible human resources in the long run.

Other distinction between training and development is that training can have a
negative connotation. The result is that people might appreciate an opportunity
for development but resent being scheduled for training. Why? Training often
implies that a person has a skill deficit, so employees may view their selection for
training as a negative and embarrassing message rather than an improvement
opportunity.

Changing this perception can be difficult. To help make the change, a company
can focus on the improvement potential offered through training rather than
correction of skill deficit. In other words, the “training” is portrayed as
development; the two terms are often used interchangeably in practice. Given the
rapid rate of change in many workplaces, training is becoming a necessity. The
culture of organizations, then, needs to change so that the training is viewed
positively.

Fig. 1
TRAINING DEVELOPMENT
FOCUS Current job Current and future jobs
SCOPE Individual employees Work group or organization
TIME FRAME Immediate Long term
GOAL Fix current skill deficit Prepare for future work demands

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III. CHALLENGES IN TRAINING
The training process brings with it a number of questions that managers must
answer. These are:
 Is training the solution to the problem?
 Are the goals of training clear and realistic?
 Is training a good investment?
 Will the training work?

Is training the solution?

A fundamental objective of training is the elimination or improvement of
performance problems. However, not all performance problems call for training.
Performance deficits can have several causes, many of which are beyond the
worker’s control and would, therefore, not to be affected by training. For example,
unclear or conflicting requests, morale problems, and poor quality materials
cannot be improved through training.

Are the goals clear and realistic?

To be successful, a training program must have clearly stated and realistic goals.
These goals will guide the program’s content and determine the criteria by which
its effectiveness will be judged. For example, management cannot realistically
expect that one training session will make everyone a computer expert. Such an
expectation guarantees failure because the goal is unattainable.

Unless the goals are clearly articulated before training programs are set up, the
organization is likely to find itself training employees for the wrong reasons and
toward the wrong ends. For example, if the goal is to improve specific skills, the
training needs to be targeted to those skills areas.

In contrast, the company’s training goal may be to provide employees with a
broader understanding of the organization

Is training a good investment?

Training can be expensive. Hewlett-Packard, for example has an annual training
budget of $300 million. Many companies fervently believe in the importance of
training. However, economic conditions can be unstable and budgets limited,
making it difficult to deliver needed training. Although training can be expensive,
it can also pay off in more capable and loyal workers.

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It isn’t really cost, per se, that should be the important issue as much as the
effectiveness of the investment.

In some cases, training may be appropriate but not cost-effective. Before
beginning a training program, managers must weight the cost of the current
problem against the cost of training to eliminate it.
Not conducting training can be a costly choice. A federal appeals court upheld a
judgement against an employer because it failed to train its managers in the
basic requirements of discrimination law. Phillips Chevrolet, Inc. was found guilty
of age discrimination. A general manager who had ultimate hiring authority
admitted that he often considered the age of applicants when making hiring
decisions and wasn’t aware that it was an illegal practice. The courts stated that
the failure of the organization to train its managers in the basics of discrimination
law was an “extraordinary mistake” and justified the conclusion that the company
was recklessly indifferent to antidiscrimination law. The court awarded $50.000 in
punitive damages. The company probably realizes now that the cost required to
train its managers in discrimination laws was little relative to the cost levied
against it for not providing that training.

Will training work?

Designing effective training remains as much an art as a science, because no
single type of training has proved most effective overall. For example, an
organizational culture that supports change, learning, and improvement can be
more important determinant of a training program’s effectiveness that any aspect
of the program itself. Participants who view solely as a day away from work are
unlikely to benefit much from the experience.

If participants’ managers do not endorse the content and purpose of the training,
it is unlikely that the training program will have any influence on work processes.

Finally, training will not work unless it is related to organizational goals. A well-
designed training program flows from the company’s strategic goals; a poorly
designed one has no relationship to-or even worse, is at cross-purposes with-
those goals. It is manager’s responsibility to ensure that training is linked with
organizational goals.

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IV. MANAGING THE TRAINING PROCESS
Poor, inappropriate, or inadequate training can be a source of frustration for
everyone involved. To maximize the benefits of training, managers must closely
monitor the training process.

The training process consists of three phases: (1) needs assessment, (2)
development and conduct of training, and (3) evaluation.

In large organizations, surveys of workers and input of managers are very
important for determining what training is needed (phase 1), but the actual
training (phase 2) is usually provided by either the organization’s own training
department or an external resource (such as consulting firm or a local university).
After the training program is complete, managers may become involved to
determine whether it has been useful (phase 3). In small businesses, the
manager may be responsible for the entire process, although external sources of
training may be still used.

The needs Assessment phase

The overall purpose of the needs assessment phase is to determine if training is
needed, and if so, to provide the information required to design the training
program. Needs assessment consist of three levels of analysis: organizational,
task, and person.

Organizational Analysis examines broad factors such as the organization’s
culture, mission, business climate, long- and short-term goals, and structure. Its
purpose is to identify both overall organizational needs and the level of
supporting for training. Some of the key issues to be addressed at the
organizational level of analysis are the external environment and the
organization’s goals and values. An analysis of the external environment may
indicate a shortage of skilled workers and changes in technology. Training can
help the organization to meet these challenges. The goals of an organization are
the targets it is trying to achieve-perhaps increased market share or expansion
into a new market. Training may be needed to give employees the skills to
achieve the organizational goals. Similarly, values can be the core of how an
organization operates. Employees should understand these values and have the
skills to work within them. In sum, the organizational level needs assessment
looks at external influences and the direction and principles of the organization to
determine whether training is needed.

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Task Analysis is an examination of the job to be performed. A recent and carefully
conducted job analysis should provide all the information needed to understand
job requirements. These duties and tasks are used to identify the knowledge,
skills, and abilities (KSAs) required performing the job adequately. Then the
KSAs are used to determine the kinds of training needed for the job.
Person Analysis determines which employees need training by examining how
well employees are carrying out the tasks that make up their jobs. Training is
often necessary when there is a discrepancy between a worker’s performance
and the organization’s expectations or standards. Often a person analysis entails
examining worker performance ratings and then identifying individual workers or
groups of workers who are weak in certain skills. The source of most
performance ratings is the supervisor, but a more complete picture of workers’
strengths and weakness may be obtained by including other sources of
appraisal.

The training and Conduct Phase

The training program that results from assessment should be a direct response
to an organizational problem or need. Training approaches vary by location,
presentation, and type.

Location Options

Training can be carried out either on the job or off the job. In the very common
on-the-job training (OJT) approach, the trainee works in the actual work setting,
usually under the guidance of an experienced worker, supervisor, or trainer. Job
rotation, apprenticeships, and internships are all forms of OJT.
 Job rotation allows employees to gain experience in different kinds of
narrowly defined jobs in the organization. It is often used to give future
mangers a broad background.
 Apprenticeships, OJT programs typically associated with skilled trades,
derive from the medieval practice of having the young learn a trade from
an experienced worker. In Europe are still on of the major ways for young
men and women to gain entry to skilled jobs.
 Internships, just as apprenticeships are a route to certain skilled blue-
collar jobs, they are a route to white-collar or managerial jobs in a variety
of fields.

OJT has both benefits and drawbacks. This type of training is obviously relevant
to the job because the tasks confronted and learned are generated by the job
itself. Also spares the company the expense of taking employees out of the work
environment for training and usually the cost of hiring outside trainers, because
company employees generally are capable of doing training. On the negative
side, OJT can prove quite costly to the organization in lost business when on-the-
job trainees cause customer frustration.

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Off-the-job training is an effective alternative to OJT. Common examples of off-
the-job training are formal courses, simulations, and role-playing exercises in a
classroom setting. One advantage of this is that it gives employees extended
periods of uninterrupted study. Another is that a classroom setting may be more
conductive to learning and retention because it avoids the distractions and
interruptions that commonly occur in an OJT. The big disadvantage is that what is
learned may not transfer back to the job. After all, the classroom is not the
workplace, and the situations simulated in the training may not closely match
those encountered on the job.

Presentation Options

Trainers use a variety of presentation techniques in training sessions. The most
common presentation techniques are slides and videotapes, teletraining,
computers, simulations, virtual reality, and classroom instruction and role-plays.

Slides and videotapes can be used either off-the-job or in special media rooms.
Slides and videotapes provide consistent information and, if well done, can be
interesting and thought provoking. However, these presentation media do not
allow trainees to ask questions or receive further explanation. Many companies
prefer to use slides, film, or tapes to supplement a program led by a trainer, who
can answer individuals’ questions and flesh out explanations when necessary.

Teletraining an option that can be useful when trainees are dispersed across
various physical locations. Satellites are used to beam live training broadcasts to
employees at different locations. In addition to the video reception, the satellite
link allows trainees to ask questions of the instructor during the broadcast.

Computers Computer-based learning can range from the use of a CD-ROM to
training over the Internet. A number of companies are still exploring what type of
computer-based training works best for them. However, the Web-based training
is fast becoming the training method of choice.

Both small and large businesses are finding computer-training to be a cost-
effective medium. In particular, if a job requires extensive use of computers, then
computer-based training is highly job related and provides for a high degree of
transfer of training back to the job. Computers also have the advantage of
allowing trainees to learn at a comfortable pace. As a trainer, the computer never
becomes tired, bored, or short-tempered. Further, computers can be a
multimedia training option in which text can be combined with film, graphics, and
audio components.

Using the Internet or company intranet for training, e-learning has been
increasing in popularity for obvious reasons. A general estimate is that
companies can reduce their training costs by 50 to 70 percent by using electronic
courses rather than traditional classroom-style training. Since individuals can

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access training at any time and from any place where an Internet connection is
available, it is not surprising that e-learning is a success story at many
companies.
Simulations are devices or situations that replicate job demands at an off-the-
job site. Organizations often use simulations when the information to be
mastered is complex, the equipment used on the job is expensive, and/or the
cost of a wrong decision is high. The performance of jobs in the military, law
enforcement, and security can sometimes mean life or death. Simulations can be
particularly effective at safely training people to handle these situations. Firearms
Training Systems Inc. (FATS) provides simulation training for military
organizations around the world. The training includes simulated weapons that
realistically portray the real things, including recoil. A FATS simulation for training
police officers uses a computer and a 10-foot video screen to confront police
officers-in-training with the sights and sounds of a number of situations
commonly encountered in police work. The airline industry has also long used
simulators to train pilots.

Virtual Reality (VR) uses a number of technologies to replicate the entire real-
life working environment rather than just several aspects of it, as do simulations.
VR immerses a participant in a computer-generated virtual environment that
changes according to head and body movements. Within these three-
dimensional environments, a user can interact with and manipulate objects in
real time.

Tasks that are good candidates for VR training are those that require rehearsal
and practice, working from a remote location, or visualizing objects and
processes that are not usually accessible. VR training is also excellent for tasks
in which there is a high potential for damage to equipment or danger individuals.

Classroom Instruction and Role-Plays Although widely viewed as “boring”,
classroom instruction can be exciting if other presentation techniques are
integrated with the lecture. In-class case exercises and role-plays provide an
opportunity for trainees to apply what is being taught in the class and transfer
that knowledge back to the job.

Types of Training

We focus here on the types of training that are commonly used today’s
organizations: skills, retraining, cross-functional, team, creativity, literacy,
diversity, crisis, and customer service.

Skills Training is probably the most common in organizations. The process is
fairly simple: the need or deficit is identified via a thorough assessment. Specific
training objectives are generated, and training content is developed to achieve

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those objectives. The criteria for assessing the training’s effectiveness are also
based on the objectives identified in the assessment phase.

Retraining A subset of skills training, retraining gives employees the skills they
need to keep pace with their job’s changing requirements. For instance, however
proficient garment workers may be at a traditional skill such as sewing, they will
need retraining when the company invests in computerized sewing equipment.
Unfortunately, even though retraining is much sited in the media as an item at the
top of the corporate agenda, many companies rush to upgrade their equipment
without taking comparable steps to upgrade their employees’ skills. They
erroneously believe that automation means a lower-skilled workforce when, in
fact, it often requires a more highly skilled one.

Cross-Functional Training Traditionally, organizations have developed
specialized work functions and detailed job descriptions. However, today’s
organizations are emphasizing versatility rather then specialization.

Cross-functional training teaches employees to perform operations in areas other
than their assigned job. For example:
 Job rotation can be used to provide a manager in one functional area with
broader perspective than he or she would otherwise have.
 Departments can trade personnel for periods of time so that each worker
or set of workers develops an understanding of the other department’s
operation
 Peer trainers, high-performing workers who double as internal on-the-job
trainers, can be extraordinarily effective in helping employees develop
skills in another area of operation.

Team Training In the best manufacturing plants, approximately 70 percent of
production workers are in self-directed or empowered teams. The team structure
offers much promise in terms of performance, but team issues, ranging from
personality conflicts to communication problems, can get in the way of teams
performing to their potential. Teams are becoming embedded in how many
businesses operate. Further, many organizations are operating in a global
environment, which forces people in far-flung geographic locations to operate as
teams.

Team training can be divided into two areas based on the two basic team
operations: content tasks, and group processes. Content tasks directly relate to
team’s goals-for example, cost control and problem solving. Group processes
pertain to the way members function as a team-for example, how team members
behave toward one another, how they resolve conflicts, and how extensively they
participate. Unlike traditional individual training, team training goes beyond the
content skills and includes group processes.

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Creativity Training is based on the assumption that creativity can be learned.
There are several approaches to teaching creativity, all of which attempt to help
people solve problems in new ways. One common approach is the use of
brainstorming, in which participants are given the opportunity to generate ideas
as wild as they can come up with, without fear of judgement. Only after a good
number of ideas have been generated are they individually submitted to rational
judgement in terms of their cost and feasibility. Creativity is generally viewed as
having two phases: imaginative and practical. Brainstorming followed by rational
consideration of the options it produces satisfies both phases.

Literacy Training The abilities to write, speak, and work well with others is
critical in today’s business environment.

The term literacy is generally used to mean the mastery of basic skills-that is,
the subjects normally taught in public schools (reading, writing, arithmetic, and
their uses in problem solving). It is important to distinguish between general
literacy and functional literacy. Generally literacy is person’s general skill level,
whereas functional literacy is a person’s skill level in a particular content area. An
employee is functionally literate if he or she can read and write well enough to
perform important job duties (reading instructions manuals, understanding safety
messages).

Functional literacy training programs focus on the basic skills required to perform
a job adequately and capitalize on most workers’ motivation to get help or
advance in a particular job. For example, unlike a reading comprehension course
(which teaches general reading skills), functional training teaches employees to
comprehend manuals and other reading materials they must use on the job.

Diversity Trainings Ensuring that the diverse groups of people working in a
company get along and cooperate is vital to organizational success. Diversity
training programs are designed to teach employees about specific cultural and
sex differences and how to respond to these in the workplace. Diversity training
is particularly important when team structures are used. To be successful, it must
include and be sensitive to all groups, including white males who may perceive
that the training is directed at or against them. Diversity training that focuses on
individual strengths and weaknesses rather than on differences between groups
can be a positive experience for all employees. Making the link between diversity
and the business is also important. For example, effective companies are moving
their diversity training beyond debunking stereotypes tot the need to engage
employees from diverse backgrounds. Kodak includes training for all its
employees that addresses the importance of diversity for its business.

Crisis Training Unfortunately, accidents, disasters, and violence are part of life.
Events such as plane crushes, chemical spills, and workplace violence can
wreak havoc on organization. In addition to after-the-fact crisis management,
crisis training can focus on prevention. For example, organizations are becoming

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increasingly aware of the possibility of workplace violence, such as attacks by
disgruntled former employees or violence against spouses. Prevention training
often includes seminars on stress management, conflict resolution, and team
building.

Ethics Training The topic of ethics has become a priority for many
organizations, and ethics training is seen as a key tool to maintain and improve
the level of ethics in an organization.

Customer Service training Organizations are increasingly recognizing the
importance of meeting customers’ expectations. In addition to establishing
philosophies, standards, and systems that support customer service, companies
should provide customer service training to give employees the skills they need
to meet and exceed customer expectations. Unfortunately, frontline service
employees are often seen as temporary employees who are not worth the
investment. However, customer-service skills can determine the very survival of a
business.

The Evaluation Phase

In the evaluation phase of the training process, the effectiveness of the training
program is assessed. Companies can measure effectiveness in monetary or
nonmonetary terms. Whatever terms, the training should be judged on how well it
addressed the needs it was designed to meet. For example, a business may
evaluate a training program designed to increase workers’ efficiency by
assessing its effects on productivity or costs, but not in terms of employee
satisfaction.

All too often the evaluation phase of the training process is neglected. This is
tantamount to making an investment without ever determining whether you’re
receiving an adequate (or any) return on it. Calculating a return on investment
can require a study of the costs and benefits of training, and funding such a study
can be difficult if funding for the training was barely adequate to begin with.
Granted, collecting the necessary data and finding the time to analyse training
results may be difficult. But at the very least companies should estimate the costs
and benefits of a training program, even if these cannot be directly measured.
Without such information, training’s financial value cannot be demonstrated, and
upper management may feel there is no compelling reason to continue the
training effort.

Assessing the effectiveness of training is more than simply estimating financial
costs and benefits. A four-level framework for evaluation has been widely
accepted in the training area. Level 1 refers to the reaction of trainees, and it may
consist of ratings on a satisfaction scale that assess how happy trainees are with
the training. Level 2 refers to how much the trainees learn, and it may assessed

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with a skill exercise. Level 3 refers to the trainees’ behaviour, and it may be
measured by observers of the work operation. Level 4 refers to the results, which
are generally assessed through the financial measure of return on investment
(ROI). Results, the highest level of measurement, seem to be the most desirable
way of assessing the success of a training program. However, other levels of
measurement, particularly level 3, behaviour, can also be important.

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V. CONCLUSIONS
It has frequently been argued that training is the “litmus test” of human
resource management. The pivotal element of a system designed to harness the
talents of those it employs (through well-designed jobs, team working, employee
involvement and other human resource practices) is ensuring that employees are
developed for their roles. However, the reverse also applies and human resource
practices are the test of training. There is little point in training and developing
employees if the jobs they are to undertake are tightly controlled with no trust or
discretion given. Skill is an aspect of jobs as well as a part of individuals and a
highly skilled individual put in a job where they have little control, discretion or
responsibility and which they have little power to change is likely to become
frustrated. This means that, just as many excellent analyses of human resource
management have queried the extent to which its ambitious rhetoric has been
matched by its lived reality so training needs to be subjected to the same
scrutiny. Good training and development has the capacity to significantly change
lives. It can equip people for more interesting, better paid and more demanding
work; help to mitigate the discrimination in the labour market experienced by
women and members of minority groups and provide an effective route out of
poverty for people working in unskilled and low-paid jobs. However, just because
some forms of training can do this does not mean that all can. Training and
development is not straightforwardedly a “good thing”-not all training is integrated
into work. Before according our approval we really do need to examine what is
involved in particular training systems, the effect it has on individuals and the way
it is integreated into work. If this is not the case then there is a danger that effort
and resources will be put into systems which simply reinforce disadvantages and
equip people only for minimum wage employment or horizontal movement
between a range of low-skilled jobs.

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VI. STUDY CASE
Leading with One Voice: Training in a Global Organization

BP is a global energy company that doubled its size in four years through a
series of mergers and acquisitions. Although BP has one name, it is actually
comprised of a multitude of nationalities and corporate cultures. It had 35
different leadership development programs taking place around the world. The
sheer number of these training programs pointed out a major problem: There
was no common understanding, or model, of what it meant to be leader at BP.
How could people have a common understanding and work together toward
shared goals without a common approach to how to lead?

Top management at BP decided to address this problem by training first-level
leaders (the BP label for firs-line supervisors). This is a large and diverse group
of more than 10,000 people in every sector of the organization. Although their
diversity and geographic dispersion would make the training effort more difficult,
this group was too important to BP not to have a common understanding of how
to be effective BP manager.

A leadership training program was developed based on input from firs-level
leaders across the organization. Finally, BP would have a common management
framework across the globe. The course was well received by first-level leaders,
with 84 percent reporting satisfaction with the program. (The target satisfaction
rate had been set at 80%). Demand for the program was higher than expected
and additional courses had to be offered.

The team that developed the training realized that it did not have measures with
which to demonstrate the value of the training program. The satisfaction surveys
given at the end of each course wouldn’t answer what the team viewed as the
critical issue: What happened when people got back to their jobs after the
training was completed? Was the training applied in the workplace?

In order to address whether the training was being transferred back to the job,
the team identified behavioural changes that should be evident in leaders who
completed the program. These behavioural changes were divided into six
categories:
 Organizational awareness. Understanding the BP organization and
being able to network it
 Communication skills. Ability to listen and take into account other’s
viewpoints
 Confidence and self-awareness. Ability to be objective and remain calm
under pressure

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 Management skills. Problem-solving, prioritizing, delegation, and time-
management ability
 Leadership skills. Ability to develop and maintain an effective team,
generate commitment and overcome obstacles
 Team performance. Effective team leadership to achieve results.

Using the behaviour measures, BP surveyed managers and direct reports of first-
level leaders in the fist year after the program. Performance on each of the six
measures was significantly better for first-level leaders who had taken the
training. Another survey the next year again found the same positive results for
the training program.

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