Student Paper: ‘Business Literacy’ Programs And Training Programs on Manager Level

Introduction

This paper gives a deliberate analysis of the related issues on ‘business literacy’ programs and training programs on the manager level.

On the ‘business literacy’ programs aspect, at first, it give objective views on the idea of whether these programs can help employees see the connection between individual/ team performance and organizational profitability. On one hand, due to the fruitful knowledge in these programs including the knowledge of various business areas such as how to read and use an income statement, keys factors in a balance sheet, the importance of cash vs. profit, basic knowledge on the cash flow statement, key measurement criteria of organizational profitability and views on capital budgeting as well as decision making and so on, ‘business literacy’ programs can help employees work under the guideline of organization’s goals, behave themselves and understand the operation of their company much better, which means it can help employees recognize the connection between individual/team performance and organizational profitability. On the other hand, ‘business literacy’ programs also have some pitfalls. Inappropriate train assessment may lead to ineffective training results which can help employees see the connection between individual/ team performance and organizational profitability. And meanwhile, these programs may also be used just as a kind of means by companies to sell employees on the notion of more work for the same pay.

As referring to the aspect of training programs on the manager level, it focuses on three areas, including Information collection from managers on the training issue, means of information collection as well as recommendations for removing the resistance. At first, it is important for company to get information on the basis of investigating the needs assessment for managers’ training programs, looking into the training design areas for managers and looking into the implementation of the training programs for managers. And then to collect information, it is useful to adopt these means such as interview, questionnaires and observation. Interview means such as face to face interview which may help the company to penetrate behind initial answers and also get more fruitful information from the managers about the training programs. Questionnaire may help companies get more objective information due to the standardized way of responses gathering as well as relatively quick speed. Observation means including non-participant observation and participant observation which can help company gain better insights into the aspects of what is going on the training programs in the informal and undocumented aspects. At last it give some effective recommendations to remove the resistance such as getting more useful information via evaluation the former training programs for the managers, connecting the training programs with the promotions, linking the compensation with the training programs, buying the support of certain individuals by involving managers in the training process, building role model or using punishment to motivate managers to attend the future training programs.

Business literacy programs

i ) Business literacy programs for the employees on the connection between individual/team performance and organizational profitability

The idea of ‘business literacy’ programs is to make the employees aware of the business knowledge of their organization including economic education, financial literacy as well as business basics, how success is measured and how their performance connects with organizational profitability (Anonymous 2010). And the purpose of the ‘business literacy’ programs is to help employees to enhance their ability to use the information of finance as well as business to understand and make decisions to facilitate their organization achieving success (Anonymous 2010).

On one hand these programs can help employees see the connection between individual/team performance and organizational profitability and the reasons are as follows (Anonymous 2010; Trudell 2009).

At first, according to Knowles’ theory of andragogy (1984), there is a need for the adults to know why specific knowledge is taught to them when organizations implement adult training programs. And the purpose of the ‘business literacy’ programs is to give opportunities for employees to touch the knowledge of various business areas such as how to read and use an income statement, keys factors in a balance sheet, the importance of cash vs. profit, basic knowledge on the cash flow statement, key measurement criteria of organizational profitability and views on capital budgeting as well as decision making and so on, which can facilitate their future performance (Anonymous 2010; Trudell 2009).

And then due to the knowledge obtained from the above areas of the business, these programs may facilitate employees have a big picture of their organization’s business at least the organization’s goals and objectives. And meanwhile, these programs may also help employees have a better view on these measurements of the organization’s success due to the basic skills from these programs, for instance these employees may be able to read and explain some of the financial statement of their organization after joining in these programs (Anonymous 2010; Trudell 2009).

On the basis of the above two aspects, employees of the organization can work under the guideline of the organization’s goals and objectives and may avoid the situation that they work very hard while in the wrong direction. Furthermore, after the employees understand the organization’s goals and objectives, not only the efforts of employees can be aligned with these objectives but also their decision can be made on the basis of the knowledge from the “business literacy” programs as well as the team work can be connected with the right direction (Anonymous 2010; Trudell 2009).And moreover, employees began to be aware of controlling some expense due to the attendance in these programs. For instance the working staffs who have never seen an income statement may don’t know the percent of sales and expenses may go to or affect the salaries, benefits and so on. While after they got these knowledge they would behave themselves and control some extra expenses due to the crucial connection between their working performance and the company’s profitability which may directly affect their income (Anonymous 2010).

By and large, the “business literacy” programs can help employees see the connection between individual/team performance and organizational profitability. The reasons why employees would be able to work under the guideline of organization’s goals, why the team work as well as employee’s efforts can be concentrated in the same directions, why they recognized the importance of expense controlling are all because of the “business literacy” programs, which give the employees the opportunities to see the connection between their work and the organization’s revenue, expense and profit (Anonymous 2010; Trudell 2009).

On the other hand, besides the above benefits of the “business literacy” programs, there are still some skeptics believe that these programs may not have a benefit function on helping employees see the connection between individual/team performance and organizational profitability.

The main factor which results in the dysfunction of the “business literacy” programs on helping employees see the connection between individual/team performances and organizational profitability is because of the lack of training assessment. Cascio (2010) advocates that the assessment of training needs are a foundation for the entire training program, which is the same importance for the “business literacy” programs. Due to the views from Cascio (2010), we can see if there is a lack of assessing the training need or inappropriate training needs assessment for the employees, the “business literacy” programs may become dysfunctional. For instance, asking the green hand worker of manufacturing department to take part in the training program of how to read and use an income statement, which may have little benefits for the workers to have a better understand of the connection between individual/team performance and organizational profitability, because the level of this kind of workers may not understand the knowledge from the training programs. Moreover, asking the people of middle management to join in the training programs of basics on the cash flow statement is also inappropriate, because these people, as such level, may have already owned the basic knowledge of the cash flow statement and joining in such programs may be just a waste of time, which can also not make their improvement of understanding the connection between individual/team performances and organizational profitability.

And meanwhile there are also some skeptics hold the view that the” business literacy” programs are just the way for organizations to sell employees on the notion of more work for the same pay. For example, when employees understand revenue and profit look good don’t means there is no situation of dilemma for their company, the company may persuade employees work more without extra pay and even reduce their salary under the excuse of helping the company get through the dilemma (Anonymous 2010; Trudell 2009).

ii) Influences of Business literacy programs on pay-for performance plans

According to Leopold, Harris and Watson (2005, p.211), pay for performance is the program that concerned with how employee contribution is recognized through monetary rewards, with an emphasis on the use of pay as a strategic means of aligning individual efforts to organizational priorities. And there are various performance related pays, individual performance related pay, team based performance related pay and competence or skills related pay and so on included (Leopold, Harris & Watson 2005). And the performance based pay that a monetary incentive linked to performance will act as a motivator and increase the individual or team performance (Leopold, Harris & Watson 2005).

Although the pay for performance mechanism is an effective means for companies to motivate the working morale of its employees, not all the employees have a clear picture of how the mechanism works. According to the data from Business Literacy Institute (Anonymous 2010), we can see there are several employees can’t read an income statement, which means they don’t have the chance to see the connection between their performances and organizational profitability. And meanwhile, there are still several employees don’t know the difference of profit and cash, which means if the revenue and margin of the company look good, they may not understand how the cash flow crunch happen. While the ‘business literacy’ programs as the above mentioned, they can offer the employees the knowledge of how to read and use an income statement, keys factors in a balance sheet, the importance of cash vs. profit, basic knowledge on the cash flow statement, key measurement criteria of organizational profitability and views on capital budgeting as well as decision making and so on (Anonymous 2010; Trudell 2009). So on the basis of these programs of ‘business literacy’, employees then can understand he connection between their performances and organizational profitability, how the cash flow crunch happen and how to work under the right direction. In another word they can have a better knowledge of how their pay is related with their performance.

Let’s take the profit sharing plans of pay for performance mechanism for example. Many companies adopt this means for the salesmen to motivate their productivity and in most of the plans the profit shared with employees are about 20% to 25% percent of the net profit (Snell& Bohlander 2007). And there is often a common sense from the employees that the company takes many advantages of them. While through the knowledge such as the analysis of the economic ‘value trees’ from the ‘business literacy’ programs, employees can have a clear clue of how the income flows into the organization and the division of the expense of the company, and then get a clear picture of how the mount that the profit share calculated for them (HLC Inc. 2009). Based on the understanding, they may get the psychological satisfaction that they can monitor the function of the pay for performance plans and avoid company taking advantage of them on the knowledge from the ‘business literacy’ programs, which can strengthen the credibility of the pay for performance plans. Furthermore, due to the clear picture of how the pay for performance mechanism works, the employees can also keep watch on the mechanism and give proper suggestions to improve the function of pay for performance mechanism, which can improve the effectiveness of the mechanism and directly enhance the credibility of the mechanism, as well. Moreover, the after these people attending ‘business literacy’ programs, they can influence their peers to have a better knowledge on pay for performance plans and then these people can also monitor the mechanism and give proper suggestions. Due to these circles, the effectiveness and credibility of pay for performance plans will be improved a lot.

By and large, the business literacy programs can offer good knowledge and help employees has a clear picture on the pay for performance plans. It can improve the credibility of such plans on the basis of fully understanding. And furthermore, it can also enhance the effectiveness of the pay for performance plans to motivate the working morale and enthusiasm of these employees to facilitate the company gaining more profit and having a better performance.

Training programs for managers and the related issues

i ) Information collection from managers on the training issue

From the paper, we can see that managers from the preliminary company have a negative opinion of the training offered by the firm, think the training is a waste of time and are resistance to attend future training by the training staff. To remove the resistance from these managers and help them to attend the future training programs willingly, it is crucial to get useful information to facilitate the future training programs via the systems approach from Snell and Bohlander (2007) before sending managers to the training programs, which includes these aspects such as needs assessment, program design and implementation.

At first, it is important to investigate the needs assessment for managers’ training programs. That is to say to indentify which managers need training and the types of training they need (Cascio, W.F. 2010). For instance, the managers of financial department may need the training on capital budgeting and decision making desperately, so on the basis of their needs, they can be sent to specific training programs.

And then, it is essential to get information via looking into the training design areas for managers. To investigate whether the training programs are fit for the needs of the managers who are going to take part in and their readiness is important information to facilitate the success of the manager training programs (Snell & Bohlander 2007). For example if the managers’ training needs are superior management skills such as how to prevent and deal with disputes more effectively, how to be a highly respected leader or how to motivate the work staff more properly, while the coming training programs are just some basic knowledge of management which are known by the managers, there may be a resistance to join in these programs from the managers.

Furthermore, it is also necessary to get information from looking into the implementation of the training programs for managers, namely the training methods in the programs for the managers. According to Snell and Bohlander (2007), there are variety of training methods for management development, including on-the-job experience, seminars and conferences, case studies, management games, role playing and behavior modeling and so on. Due to different people’ different personality, professional skills, working attitude, experience as well as educational background, different people may fit different training methods. For example, the on-the-job experiences method is effective for these managers who have higher level position as well as full of valuable experience (Snell & Bohlander 2007). And for some relatively inexperienced managers, the role playing methods may be the suitable one, which can bring realism and insight into dilemmas and experiences for these managers (Snell & Bohlander 2007).

All in all, the above three kinds of information collected from the needs assessment, program design, and implementation of the training programs for the managers may give an clear answers for why the managers resist the training programs, such as the inappropriate training design, improper training methods or even the lack of the training needs assessment and so on. Based on these collected information, the training programs for managers can be implemented more smoothly via avoiding some inappropriateness.

ii) Means of information collection

To get the proper and useful information on the training programs for managers, the followings are some recommendable methods of information collection.

The first useful method of information is interview. Leedy and Ormrod (2001) advocates the face to face interview, because it can help the company to gain more direct information and clarify ambiguous answers from the managers who resist the training programs, and then seek the follow-up information, such as the training needs, why resist trainings, and even some proper suggestions for the training programs. As refer to the interview methods, the structured as well as unstructured interview is all useful to get information from the managers. The structured interview is the one that the researcher asks a standard set of questions to the managers such as training needs, suggestions and so on, which can help the company get more detailed, honest and sensitive information about the training programs (Doan 2009). And the unstructured interview is more flexible which can help the company to penetrate behind initial answers and also get more fruitful information from the managers about the training programs(Key 1997).

The second recommendable means of information collection is questionnaire. The questionnaires handed to managers can be preplanned with a concise set of designed questions to get the information including the feedback of the training programs on the aspects of training content, training methods, training equipment and material used and so on(Snell & Bohlander 2007). According to Milne (1999), the means of questionnaire can help companies get more objective information due to the standardized way of responses gathering as well as relatively quick speed. Meanwhile Millmore et al. (2007, p.144) also advocates the means of using questionnaire, that responses to questionnaires are easier to record as they are bases on a predetermined and standardized set of questions.

The next recommendable means is observation. As Duignan (2009) described, there are two kinds of observation means including non-participant observation and participant observation. As for the current situation of the resistance from the managers to attend the training programs, it is more appropriate to adopt the participant observation to gather information. According the description of Duignan (2009), we can see that the means of interview and questionnaire are just second hand data collection means, while the participant observation has the advantage that as one participant of the training programs, the analyst of the company may obtain a much more closer view of what happens and have more data as well as gain better insights into the aspects of what is going on the training programs in the informal and undocumented aspects.

iii) Recommendations for removing the resistance

It is crucial to implement evaluation the former training programs for the managers and get more useful information.

In order to ensure managers are still willing to receive future training, it is an effective method to connect the training programs with the promotions. According to Cascio (2010), the promotion to employees often means higher pay, benefits as well as privilege. So if link the training programs with the promotion, it is more easy to attract the managers to attend the training programs. Due to the attractiveness of promotion from both physical aspects of higher salary as well as benefits and psychological aspects of satisfying the needs for security, belonging and personal growth, managers may be more willing to attend the training programs for them in order to get the chance of promotion (Cascio 2010).

Linking the compensation with the training programs is also a wisdom way to motivate the managers to accept the future training programs for them. Cascio (2010) mentioned in the book that compensation includes both financial and nonfinancial rewards. The financial rewards include direct payments (e.g., salary) plus indirect payments in the form of employee benefits while nonfinancial rewards include every thing in a work environment that enhances a worker’s sense of self- respect and esteem by others (e.g., work environments that are physically, socially, and mentally healthy; opportunities for training and personal development; effective supervision; recognition) (Cascio 2010, p.420). If the managers realize that their attendance in the training programs can bring them sound compensation advantages, they may become willing to attend the future training programs. By and large this kind of incentive means may become a useful way to enhance their enthusiasm of programs attending.

To remove the resistance of managers to attend the future training programs, Kotter and Schlesinger (1979 cited in Palmer, Dunford & Akin2009) recommend the means of participation and involvement which is the means of buying the support of certain individuals by involving people in the training process. As for the resistance to training programs from managers, the company can make the involvement of the managers in the training plans. For example, the company can invite the managers to give proper ideas or views for the training programs design, such as the training goals setting, training implementation means, such as whether adopting on –the-job experiences methods, seminars and conferences methods or not (Snell& Bohlander2007). Due to the involvement in the training programs design and implementation, these managers may become more active to attend the training programs to support their ideas.

As Kotter and Schlesinger (1979 cited in Palmer, Dunford & Akin2009) mentioned that explicit and implicit coercion may be a useful methods to manage the resistance from managers on accepting the training programs, which is to threaten people with undesirable consequences if they resist. For instance, if the managers know the absence of the training programs may result in the wages deducted or bad record of their performance which may hinder their future development in the company, they may be willing enough to take part in the future training programs.

Moreover, according to Hughes, Ginnett & Curphy (2006), if the leader wants the employees to be confident, be disciplined, the leader must first have these traits. So if the leader or the chief director wants the managers to attend these training programs, he or she can attend the training programs as a model. The effect of role model can result in the mangers’ participation in the future training programs, because no one wants to give a bad impression to their superior.

Conclusion

This paper gets the following conclusion through a deliberate analysis on the aspects of business literature programs related issues and companys training programs for managers’ level.

On the one hand, the business literature programs can help working staff get a clear big picture of how their company functioning and the understanding of the goals and objectives of their companies, which could help them recognize how their performance can influence companys profitability. On the other hand, due to the poor design of these ‘business literature programs, employees may gain little after attending these programs. And sometimes, these programs are even taken by companies as excuse to require employees to work more under the same ore less payment. Based on this situation, the business literature programs are ineffective to help working staff see the connection between their performance and the organizational profitability.

Moreover, business literature programs for the working staff can improve the credibility of the pay for performance plans at a great extent. For example, these programs can strengthen employees psychological satisfaction on pay for performance plans and motivate them to give suggestions to improve the effectiveness of pay for performance plans.

On the training programs for managers, to make sure the future attendance of these managers to the training, it gives proper suggestions on the types of information collection, means for collection and proper recommendation. For instance, the information collected from the needs assessment, program design and implementation are most effective and useful. It is helpful to collect information via means of interviews, questionnaires and observations. And to motivate the managers to attend the future training programs, it is useful to connect the compensation, promotion, punishment and so on with these programs.

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