From my knowledge and understanding of larger private learning institutions like Berlitz Corporation, the commitment to corporate mission can stray far from what is normally practiced. In particular, there are considerations like organizational structure, political and HR frames which can hinder how successfully organizations follow through with their stated objectives. At Berlitz Corporation, conducting a needs assessment which better aligns training programs to their current business strategy presents a bigger challenge (Noe, 2013). Since 2001, their extensive global presence has been tested by new ownership under Benesse Inc., who in a bid to ready the company for globalization, initiated a series of acquisitions to increase the company’s service portfolio (Spiri, 2008). However, daily operational bottom-line policies have not kept pace with the reality of the change process and often conflict with its human relations mission.
Given that the structural frame operates from a hierarchical-based divisional format, there are several layers of approval that must be obtained in order to sustain a system-wide consistency of service which comply with ISO certification. This requires more attention to detail to maintain their organizational philosophy of service flexibility, people orientation, high quality, customer orientation and outcome conscientiousness. Recent changes to its HR policies have seen increased internal recruitment and promotion of a learning culture, but they are based on unpaid training and selective benefit allocations which are contradictory to its people-oriented mission (Spiri, 2008). Rather, human resource programs should empower members and foster a learning culture through adequate support systems (Bolman & Deal, 2008; Noe, 2013).
With this mission in mind, it is important to have buy-in from its primary training receivers namely its teaching staff, facilitators and trainers who represent the core service delivery people supported by the appropriate motivational and learning incentives (Noe, 2013).
Key questions to ask these stakeholders are:
1. Given the organization’s people-oriented mission, do you believe in its importance and what would help prioritize this objective?
2. What personal and organizational support systems do you still require in this endeavor?
3. Are there any developmental activities in which you are not currently involved which would facilitate a learning process more in line with the company’s business HR strategy?
A thorough needs assessment might include recorded information taken from past competency models. The data gathered from observation and formative feedback on identified performance behaviors would help to clarify levels of retention and implementation. By comparing work-required competencies with current competencies, it establishes a developmental framework of activities against identified criteria as measurable indications of how much learning transfer is actually taking place. This can then be factored into new training programs (Noe, 2013).
A people-oriented mission prioritzes interview and focus group opinions with individual experience. It can provide insight into training effectiveness, uncover unknown details, unanticipated issues and sensitive problem areas (Noe, 2013). It may also afford a degree of comfort to stakeholders knowing that their learning concerns are important and commonly shared (Brookfield, 2006). This type of communication connects training needs to the organization’s overall objectives and outcomes making leaders accountable for realigning their mission statements to their people (Fullan, 2011). Thus, by understanding and responding to organizations as multiple realities, we assume a strategic and systemic position which advocates an integrated needs assessment aligned to business objectives (Bolman & Deal, 2008; Noe, 2013, Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011).
Human relations are the new “creative conduit influencing… the economic bottom-line” (Fullan, 2001).
Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2008). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Brookfield, S. D. (2006). The skillful teacher: On technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Spiri, J. (2008). As parent firm posts record profits, Berlitz teachers strike back. The Japan Times. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2008/05/06/issues/as-parent-firm-posts-record-profits-berlitz-teachers-strike-back/#.UscaDLQucXQ