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PHR Certificate Tests – HR Knowledge of Learning and Communications
The PHR and SPHR exam is an industry standard for Human Resource Professional wishing to gain certification. The certification itself is issued by the society of human resources. The exam is comprehensive and covers various labor relations activities, OSHA regulations and employee workforce planning. When you study for this exam, make sure you prepare by studying only the essential aspects of the exam. There are so many complex laws and regulations that you must know and you must manage your time because with laws that span over dozens of pages, it is essential that you pluck out only the information that will be tested. Employee learning methods and impact is an important part of the exam which will be tested. Because of the explosion of knowledge and the globalization of competition today, learning is more important than ever. To continue improving and to compete successfully, your entire organization needs to dedicate itself to learning. All of the individuals in your organization need to be learning all of the time. Whether you are conducting training yourself or hiring trainers, you need to know the best strategies.
When you understand these standard methods, which use well established theories and research, you can increase learning in your organization. Such theories and research come from several fields notably psychology, sociology, philosophy and communications. Apply different learning-based training strategies, depending on what kind of learning you want to convey. You will encourage learning if you know more about how to learn. To choose and apply training strategies, you need to understand some basic learning principles. Training is a process in which skills are developed, information is provided, and attitudes are nurtured, to help individuals become more effective and efficient in their work. You must commit your whole organization to learning, because:
1. The learning edge gives companies an advantage.
2. All the people in an organization need to commit themselves to learning, since the organization learns as the individuals within it learn. 3. New technologies usually require major training so the whole system can adapt. The more change occurs and redefines work, the more training you will need to make that learning actually happen. Because change happens so quickly now, every organization must be a learning organization. No organization can survive without perpetual learning.
In choosing a training strategy, consider the characteristics and needs of your organization. Have a philosophy of learning. The first step is to understand your organization. Consider its purpose, type, size, structure and culture in making arrangements for learning.
For example, the learning needs of business, government and non-profit organizations are all different. Organizations with a rational, human relations-based, technological, or holistic approach have different learning needs. Your firm’s learning needs also will depend upon whether your organization is decentralized, distributed, non hierarchical, fluid, transitory, or information-rich.
PHR Certificate Tests – HR Knowledge of Learning and Communications
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Coaching in Knowledge Workplace
The modern day workers are knowledge workers and are highly empowered.
They are as forceful as the river water; always find ways to direct their energies in directions that allow them to. Because of the dynamism and flexibility the knowledge workers may go in all directions which was not the case in case of skilled and unskilled workers of yester generations.
It is said that knowledge workers probably require more direction and guidance than skilled and unskilled workers of manufacturing era. Because they can see more world than what their predecessors could see, the opportunities to loose themselves into the wilderness are more.
Be it a research assignment, new product development, a short term engagement or a long term project, directing the workers is the only way to achieve even intended results. One of the effective ways of directing the high power knowledge workers is coaching.
Coaching in the knowledge environment
Coaching in the knowledge environment needs to be handled with a high degree of involvement from the coach who is normally the leader in charge. The leader may or may not hold a formal managerial position in the team to act as a coach. A senior member of the team with sufficient maturity can act as a coach in directing the energies of the team in to intended directions.
Modern day workers can be motivated, their energies can be directed and can be guided but these workers cannot be controlled by organizational barriers. It is important to motivate the employees to improve continuously. The knowledge workers possess inherent urge to learn and move up both from learning and organization perspectives. In the absence of proper direction, the learning can go into directions which may not be useful to the organization and can prove to be hindrances to achieve the target performances.
Coaching is a technique aimed not just to help the employees to achieve a specific intended goal. It should trigger a success which can engender another and instill the self confidence that leads to high levels of performance and productivity of all subsequent tasks. The employees under coaching should eventually transform themselves into high power dynamos to energize the rest of the workforce.
How to coach
Coaching is a leadership function that calls for directing and influencing skills of the leader. While coaching the leader in charge should follow some fundamental principles to influence the team under coaching. A systematic nine step approach towards the Coaching exercise can deliver good results.
Step 1 – Taking responsibility
Being a coach involves taking responsibility. Coaching is an exercise taken up to impact and improve someone’s workplace behavior be it interpersonal behavior or executing assigned tasks.
The coach should take the responsibility of observing the team member under coaching, providing positive feedback without distracting the employee from the focus, keep providing the required inputs during the coaching period and rewarding the positive response.
Coaching requires complete attention and time of the leader and the commitment of the leader to act responsibly to direct the team members under coaching is the key factor for a successful coaching exercise.
The coach should be assertive enough to keep the focus on the intended results. Team members under coaching can offer justifications for a specific act/behavior pattern the leader is focusing and thus try to get away from going through the painful process of change.
Step 2 – Showing path
The leader who has taken the responsibility to coach an individual or team should show the path by walking the talk. The leader should resist temptations of following shortcuts while executing tasks because the team members under coaching look up to the leader to mould their personalities.
The leader if commits a mistake should accept the mistakes candidly. Any attempt of justification for a specific behavior can bring the leader’s position in the eyes of the team member down and the leader will loose the ability to influence the team members.
In the conditions of formal authority where the leader’s decision can impact a team member’s growth opportunities, the team may show patterns of following the leader’s advice but the intended results of coaching can be achieved only if the leader can exercise individual influence because of the strength of personality and principles.
Step 3 – Involving the Team
Often coaching exercises may not target entire team as such. Growing a team started fresh is different from coaching a team. Coaching often is required to motivate the team members to work towards a positive result when they are showing the behavior away from the goal.
In majority of the cases, leaders try to use their single heads to generate ideas to resolve team’s issues in turn wasting the most valuable asset – the good ideas of the team. Often the ideas generated within the team results to be much simpler and close to the intended solution.
To generate good ideas from the team, it is important for the leader to show that the team’s opinion is valued and used. Also while taking ideas from the employees the leader should use active listening skills – to listen, understand and respond. If the leader does not respond to a team member’s advice, the team may stop talking to the leader.
Two important issues while dealing with the ideas generated by the team are – leader’s ability to handle the ideas on their merits and tendency to assign the task to execute a specific idea to the person who came up with the suggestion.
Leader’s often try to interfere their own interpretations or small diversions to the ideas generated within the team and try to claim the credit of generating the ideas or innovating the basic common thought. This will de-motivate the team leading to new issues rather than resolving the existing issues.
It is also a general pattern to assign the task of executing a good idea to the same person who generates the idea. Generating idea is a different skill from executing the same. The act of assigning the idea back to the owner can lead to closing the team’s ability to generate good ideas.
Step 4 – Challenging the Team
Coaching is a two level exercise. The coaching exercise should start at the team level and then focus on individual. The common direction for the team should be established at the group level and individual different should be observed to focus individual coaching.
To make the coaching effective, the team members should be challenged with some achievable results rather than just involving in motivational lectures. The motivational lectures often become idealistic leaving the team members bewildered about their fundamentals and action points required to reach the levels mentioned as a part of the motivational lecture.
It is important to put a challenge with clearly defined goal, provide necessary resources and the leader just need to stand back observing the team members emulating themselves to meet the challenge. If executed carefully, this can become a better learning exercise for the team than direct class room teaching or motivating lecture.
Step 5 – Reward the deserving
It is important to have a fair system of rewards for the team under coaching. When the team responds to the challenge, it should be rewarded. A fair system of rewards doesn’t mean that the rewards will even out over time. All workers must have an equal opportunity to compete for the reward, but the rewards must go to those who earn them.
Rewarding the group evenly can impact the team’s cohesiveness and balance. It is important to establish the acceptable parameters transparently; the rewarded can be admired within the team resulting into a good balance of providing internal guidance within the team.
Step 6 – Coaching Individually
The actual coaching takes place in one on one session with each individual employee. The group level coaching direction through lectures and challenges will have individual impacts. Each of the team member takes the challenges at different levels depending their maturity and confidence. It is important to have one on one coaching sessions where the leader should bring out the topic directly, positively and honestly.
One on one session may involve review of individual performance or behavior patterns. How the leader is communicating with the team member in individual coaching session is as important as what is being said. The tone and eye contact are as important as the content itself. As much as possible, the coaching discussions should focus on the issues positively rather than touching individual limitations which can divert the team member from the topic leading to counter productive results.
When a leader is resorting to coaching, the key intention is to convert the team member into positive and more productive and these outcomes should be clearly communicated to the team member through the conversation and tone and body language play a vital role in establishing the same.
Step 7 – Keeping the focus on the subject
While designing the coaching for an individual or team, it is important to keep the purpose very clear and staying honest about the motives.
The discussion and questions during the coaching session should strictly be on the subject and on target. If the answers are straying off the point, the discussion should be refocused tactfully. Because the coaching deals with behavior patterns and improvements, it is highly probable to get emotional and divert the whole discussion and thus defeating the very purpose of the coaching.
Step 8 – Giving feedback
During the coaching period, the leader should keep regular contact with the team members. It is important to move around the team members motivating them. The leader should provide feedback to employees – especially the positive feedback which can energize the team to achieve the intended results faster.
The feedback provided to the team members should be honest, strait and objective. The team members should not become conscious about their capabilities or behavior patterns which will lead to developing defense mechanism. The response from the team members to coaching should always be positive.
Step 9 – Closing the Coaching Exercise
The coaching session at individual level should be closed formally with clear feedback to the employee about the whole exercise from the beginning of the coaching session to achieving intended results.
The coaching session should not be left incomplete else the whole effort will leave the team members confused about the intended direction.
Often one successful coaching session motivates the team members so much that they keep on working towards continuous improvement consciously similar to the coaching session concluded.
In the knowledge work environments increasingly challenged by the Globalization and Competition, it is important to maximize the value of Human Resources. With high growth patterns viewed in major economies of the world, shortage of skilled manpower that can fit the bill directly and deliver the expected results quickly is a rare happening. To meet these challenges and bring up the right workforce to meet your business needs, groom all your managers dealing with your workforce in understanding the challenges and limitations to move towards a model where Coaching becomes an institutionalized exercise in your Organization.
Coaching in Knowledge Workplace
Venkat Manthripragada is a senior industry analyst and researcher with over 15 years of experience in Taxation, Accounting, Software New Product Introduction, Software Product Marketing, Services Marketing, Managing Large Teams, Managing Business, Managing Change, Coaching Large Teams and conducting Behavioural Research.
Content About : Coaching in Knowledge Workplace Article
In this article you will read about what knowledge communities are, their strategies, tools and processes.
What are knowledge communities?
Knowledge communities (KC) can be defined as:
“Knowledge communities are groups of people who share common challenges, opportunities or a passion for a given topic, and who collaborate to deepen their understanding of that topic through ongoing learning and knowledge sharing.”(AIA Knowledge Communities)
The theoretical aspect of Knowledge communities is based on managing technology, and managing human beings who share their knowledge effectively. The sharing of knowledge further depends upon information seekers who are in need of a certain type of knowledge. So that they can perform certain tasks with confidence and knowledge sources may have all the required information. The theoretical aspect is implemented in such a way so that effective knowledge sharing is possible between knowledge seekers and the knowledge source. This facet helps seekers and sources to be aware of their requirements and resource.
The concept of Knowledge Communities is largely derived from what is known as community of practice (CoP). The term was coined in 1998 by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger who claimed that communities of practice are everywhere and that we are generally involved in a number of them whether at work, school, home, or in our civic and leisure interests. In some groups we are core members, in others we are more at the margins. (Smith, 2003)
Towards the end of last century the idea of knowledge sharing was put to use in corporate world and a broader form of CoP evolved which was known as “knowledge communities”.
“The basic difference between CoP and KC is that the scope of member participation is clearly defined by job description (such as farmer’s community) in CoP, whereas in the case of KC member participation is wide open and covers in some cases, all the employees working in a big organization. “(Yamazaki, 2004)
KC was first put to practice by Xerox which was faced with a global IT infrastructure transition project. Top managers decided to launch a knowledge-sharing initiative which was called the Transition Alliance. The Alliance comprised fifty IT professionals responsible for managing 70,000 desktop workstations, nearly 1,200 servers, and networking hardware on five continents. It was observed that the motivation for learning and developing at an individual level seemed greater in this community structure than in other organizational forms. This had important implications for the longer-term job performance of the participants. (Storck and Hill, 2000) Since then large corporations have used KC with documented positive results.
KC is based on the idea that knowledge and insight are created and acquired when humans interact with each other and their environment. Any strategy to implement KC therefore must emphasize on the need for a diverse range of social interactions, such as one-on-one conversations, information and communication technology (ICT) tools, group discussion, research projects and presentations. Storck and Hill (2000) identified six guiding principles that are instrumental to the success of organizational learning. These are stated below and are applicable to KC in a corporate environment:
-Design an interaction format that promotes openness and allows for serendipity.
-Build upon a common organizational culture.
-Demonstrate the existence of mutual interests after the initial success at resolving issues and achieving corporate goals.
-Leverage those aspects of the organizational culture that respect the value of collective learning.
-Embed knowledge-sharing practices into the work processes of the group.
-Establish an environment in which knowledge sharing is based on processes and cultural norms that are defined by the community rather than other parts of the organization. (Storck et. al, 2000) Apart from these the management of both technology and context in order to provide effective support for learning and knowledge sharing is essential.
In this section, the aim is to clarify which IT tools support knowledge communities. Most of the KC today is on-line; there is very little interest in face to face KC. The tools generally used for KC are therefore e-mail, groupware, e-learning systems teleconferencing etc. There are however constraints to the usefulness of these technologies. Face-to-face interaction can sometimes be very crucial for example in developing and reinforcing trust relationships between team members. Most knowledge communities have predefined Knowledge Management component architectures which are based on knowledge portals, components, and databases. These architectures act as tools for organizing and classifying knowledge in a proficient manner. In Knowledge Management, a portal is the base source from where members of a knowledge community should start to enter, find, and access knowledge using the various KM methods. Most of search tools used by knowledge communities are server-based systems which can handle the portals of different organizations. These tools should be designed so that they follow a top-down design approach. Due to their basic inherent complexity, these are centralized, inflexible and slow to respond to change in the knowledge base.
If the knowledge base has to handled by an individual rather than a community, then the approach of the design will be bottom-up, and the complexity level of the tool will be minimum. Of course, all tools used for the infrastructure have to be maintained so that they can provide the required knowledge in a classified manner whenever necessary. The knowledge communities use the knowledge assets for the applications like product development by collaboration, automation of different business processes and real time collaborations for online applications. If the applications are user-centric, then the storage cost can be decreased with the help of knowledge assets provided and maintained by the knowledge communities. On the basis of the knowledge base maintained by many communities, it is possible to enhance the capabilities of the search based applications. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools can only provide a foundational infrastructure and environment to support learning. But these tools alone are not sufficient to stimulate effective learning in knowledge communities. “Technology however has a central part to play in providing the media and infrastructure for learning in and between knowledge communities if motivation and the learning context already exist.” (Barrett, et. al., 2004)
Discussion: KC Processes The processes which are used in knowledge communities are the following:
1. Creation or construction of the knowledge database. This is main process in developing the information database, and it should be implemented efficiently so that other processes can reuse this process if needed.
2. Storing the knowledge so that it can be used for learning and implementing the knowledge database. This process also deals with the retrieval of information if data loss is evident.
3. The next process deals with the transfer of knowledge from one category to another. There are different methods available for the transfer and anyone of them can be chosen according to the requirements. Transfer processes are different for various types of users, and can occur at a range of levels.
4. One of the other important processes supported by knowledge community is application. The knowledge base is useful only if it is capable of providing useful information to the user.
5. The last process deals with the learning, which is useful for the knowledge base organization. This process deals with how to learn what is needed, and why it is required.
Knowledge communities have their utility in areas of high structure, automation of processes and tasks, and a stable business environment. Applications should be based on conditions that are most suitable to the pre- specifications of the knowledge base. The structure of these applications should be capable of making use of the knowledge communities. The automation processes which new technologies are used on and based on workflows can get proper backup from the knowledge communities by other systems. Such applications use the knowledge base generated by these communities to achieve lower costs, higher quality, and greater market share for existing products and services. The process of establishing KC is not straightforward. The need for it or the context of knowledge sharing must be defined first. Then we must focus on where to get this knowledge from, that is, which members of the organization or community to focus on. Once the community and the Knowledge context have been decided we need to decide on the media. Putting KC in place is not very difficult but maintaining and running it efficiently is, especially when the community members are expected to have a loss of interest in future or when there is lack of trust among users. Periodic checks and reviews are therefore very essential to sustain any KC.
Relation to knowledge management
KC is very much related to knowledge management. Knowledge management is capturing, organizing, and storing knowledge and experiences of individual workers and groups within an organization and making this information available to others in the organization. This is what KC does too so that we acknowledge that KC is a very effective tool for knowledge management.
An example of KC system
A good example of the use of KC at corporate level is Hewlett Packard’s IT Resource Center (ITRC) which brings together engineers, internal IT staff and customers. The community uses intranet or extranet and is focused on specific products or issues. These inter-organizational communities have membership running in thousands and they cover topics such as business recovery planning and operating systems software. Community participants can ask questions and receive answers within a short period of time. So when systems administrators have problems, they can post symptoms electronically on the intranet and receive detailed help on how to proceed within minutes. For such communities to succeed, members must have mutual trust. Hewlett Packard deals with mistrust by using a system of user profiles and ratings. Community members get to rate each other’s responses from 1 to 10. The response now has a ‘credit rating’ and the query poser can easily assess the utility of this answer. (Barrett, et. al., 2004) Such success stories of KC abound in today’s corporate world.
It’s a well established fact that people with common interest facing similar kind of problems learn faster when in a group. The interaction between individuals creates a knowledge base which is of utmost importance to each member of this community. Knowledge communities are based on this basic premise. They try to bring people together mostly using today’s advanced ICT tools. KC has found tremendous acceptance in the corporate world owing to their simplicity and usefulness. ICT tools work best in creating KC when a sufficient stimulus to learn already exists in the community. ICT tools however have their constraints and face-toface interaction becomes vital sometimes. For a KC to succeed there must be a learning context, sufficient members to contribute knowledge, a media and mutual trust among members. If such requirements exist, KC can become an indispensable tool for any organization or community. The knowledge communities help organizations to identify their knowledge priorities, so that these organizations can upgrade their tools to be more user-friendly in handling the knowledge platform. It helps the organization to develop more appropriate, meaningful, and useful knowledge management bases.
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Continuing Education – The Quest for More Knowledge
Continuing Education is the process of acquiring additional knowledge to advance ones career, job status or, getting that college degree that eluded you. It is the learning that one gets by advancing their knowledge. It mainly involves activities like finishing your GED, going after a BA degree, or even a masters degree and to give one the practical exposure on the aspects of real time situations, with the necessary technical skills required to face the practical situations.
What is the need for Continuing Education?
Continuing Education is required for development of any society. Continuing Education of a person improves his social status, his mental status, his knowledge, and his abilities to develop his skills to face practical situations. Continuing Education is the only weapon with which one can kill ignorance and fight with unawareness. An educated person can perceive things in a better way because he has a broad mind with which he can see the things differently. He has a broadened mind with which he is able to understand all the faces of any problem and then he will be able to handle the situation in a better way.
Status of continuing education is high in developed countries but if we talk about developing countries the scene is improving rapidly. Though continuous efforts being made by the governments of developing countries to achieve continuing education, they will in the near future, overtake many developed nations in higher learning.
Why is the literacy rate not up to the desired marks despite of continuous efforts? What are the major barriers which prevent spread of continuing education? The reasons can be best described as:
Lack of Education and Infrastructure facilities which holds back the learning rate from reaching its desired mark, poverty in a major segment of population which prevents the parents from sending their children to schools, gender inequality that means a female is not given the same preference as the male which should not be, and traditional discriminating practices which also play a major role in preventing everyone from having equal rights in their quest for continuing education learning.
If people from developing countries are able to overcome these barriers the education level will rapidly rise in these developing countries.
Continuing Education – The Quest for More Knowledge
George Phillips is the webmaster of The Continuing Education Online website. Tips, information and resources for education online. Pick up your Free Report on Grants amd Student Loans at our Continuing Education Online Website.
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