Training and communication

The whole subject of training involves other questions than those of communication. Nevertheless the role of training in administration is perhaps best understood by viewing it as one of several alternative means for communicating decisional premises to organization members. If, for example, a particular j ob in an organization requires certain legal knowl-

of his work; or (c) he may be trained after selection. All these are, in a sense, training procedures, but in (a) the organization depends upon pre- service training, in (b) upon day-to-day supervision as a training device, in (c) upon formal training.

Military organizations have long provided striking demonstrations of the use that can be made of formal training in indoctrinating large numbers of new members in highly complicated and unfamiliar tasks in a short time. In civilian organizations, where new members are seldom employed in such large numbers, and where the new employees are usually at least partly trained at the time of their recruitment, the possibilities of formal training have been much less fully realized. In military organizations instruction in “how to do it” is carried on almost entirely through the formal training process, while operational orders are generally restricted to “what to do.” In many civilian organizations instruction in “how to do it” is left pretty much to the supervisory staff. Undoubtedly the poorest method of communicating operational procedures is to rely solely on written instructions and manuals.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty in the use of formal training methods is to secure in the group being trained an attitude of receptivity. Every teacher recognizes—often with a great feeling of helplessness—that motivation is the key to the learning process. The trainee must have an interest in learning, and, moreover, he must be convinced that he does not already know the things in which he is to be trained. The problem of motivation is at a minimum in the vestibule training of new employees. It may be very serious indeed in the training of employees who have already been performing their jobs for a considerable period of time.

Training requires of the trainee a certain attitude of deference toward the teacher, and an admission of incomplete knowledge that many individuals who have reached a mature age and a responsible position find quite galling. When in-service training deals with such individuals— skilled workmen, supervisors, executives—considerable attention must be given to the prestige and acceptability of the instructor and the practicality of the training materials. One of the reasons for the success of the conference method in training such groups is that it minimizes the “teaching” role of the instructor, and creates the illusion that the new ideas are originating in the group itself. Of course this is not entirely an illusion; but it is more of an illusion than the theorists of conference- method training like to admit.

Training is applicable to the process of decision wherever the same elements are involved in a large number of decisions. Training may sup-

“approved” solutions, or it may indoctrinate him with the values in terms of which his decisions are to be made.

Training, as a mode of influence upon decisions, has its greatest value in those situations where the exercise of formal authority through commands proves difficult. The difficulty may lie in the need for prompt action, in spatial dispersion of the organization, or in the complexity of the subject matter of decision which defies summarization in rules and regulations. Training permits a higher degree of decentralization of the decision-making process by bringing the necessary competence into the very lowest levels of the organizational hierarchy.

Source: Simon Herbert A. (1997), Administrative Behavior, Free Press; Subsequent edition.

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