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by Elizabeth J. Rice-Munro, Ph.D., and Roderick A. Munro, Ph.D.

In our series exploring aspects of ISO 9001:2000, we’ve reviewed customer satisfaction, communication, management review, supply chain management and control of outsourced processes. Consistent with the principle of continual improvement, this article presents tools and techniques for assessing and managing the training requirements that accompany these and other processes of a dynamic quality management system.
--Denise Robitaille, series editor

As many organizations that have transitioned to ISO 9001:2000 can affirm, the old quality adage, “Say what you do, do what you say--and prove it,” no longer summarizes requirements as outlined in the updated standard. One clause that has changed significantly is 6.2.1, which covers personnel training. Most organizations have a human resources department that oversees training and education requirements. But prior to the transition, many companies couldn’t demonstrate continual improvement of this process to meet customer satisfaction.

What does that mean, exactly? Is it simply a matter of sending people to more training classes? And if so, how can companies afford the time to do so? How can they demonstrate continual improvement and actually meet the requirement that “personnel performing work affecting product quality shall be competent on the basis of appropriate education, training, skills and experience”?


Competence, awareness, training

The ability to demonstrate continual improvement in the training arena doesn’t necessarily mean that people must spend more time in classrooms. Instead, companies must clearly understand what individuals need to excel at their jobs, while improving customer satisfaction. Internal auditors, for example, must learn how to improve their auditing techniques as they switch from ISO 9001:1994’s element-based auditing practices to ISO 9001:2000’s process-oriented approach. During the initial transition, many auditors continued to use their previously learned skills, which many registrars allowed. But now, during internal audits, organizations must ensure that auditors actually use process-approach concepts (e.g., systems thinking, data analysis and flowcharts, among others) as they seek opportunities for improvement in the audited areas.

ISO 9001:2000’s clause 6.2.2 requires that an organization provide personnel with competence, awareness and training in five basic ways:

A needs assessment for people whose work affects product and/or service quality. This should include line people all the way up to the top person at the site.

Learning experiences to close the gap between what’s needed and what the employee already knows

Full training evaluations, which are far more than simple questionnaires at the end of a class

Knowledge of how work affects product and/or service quality. This is more than simply knowing the organization’s quality policy.

Documentation indicating employees’ education, training, skills and experience that enable them to perform their assigned tasks


What is training?

Many people will argue that life experiences, training and education all add up to pretty much the same thing. But let’s look at these learning situations more closely. You might find the distinctions between them helpful when making training and education decisions with and for employees.

Training is the planned delivery of information and skill-building that enables an employee to successfully complete a specific task. Traditionally, education is the formal accumulation of knowledge about oneself and the world that enables an individual to function as a responsible citizen. Within the business structure, education also includes such activities as conferences, research, dialogue, observation and the like.

As a primary outcome of training, a person should learn something new or improve upon what he or she already knows. Thus, learning is a relatively permanent change in a person’s knowledge or behavior due to experience. Note the difference between training and learning. The change that occurs from learning includes three components:

Its duration is long-term rather than short.

It’s located in the learner’s memory or behavior, specifically in the content and structure of the person’s knowledge.

It’s caused by the learner’s experience in the environment rather than by fatigue, motivation, drugs, physical condition or physiological intervention.


Learning theory

Many people aren’t interested in theory--they simply want to know what must be done so they can get on with their work. And given the hectic pace of business today, that seems to take care of basic requirements. But as W. Edwards Deming and many others have said, without theory there can be no learning.

Some of the basic tenets of adult learning theory stress that:

The material must be relevant to employees’ professional and perhaps even personal lives.

Adults have a greater appreciation for influencing where and when learning occurs.

Adults should decide for themselves what’s important to learn. To ensure learning takes place, the trainer should specifically state what must be learned and what’s optional or unnecessary.

Adults will resist learning based on previous experiences with training, the medium, the instructor, their boss’s opinion of the training content and a host of other prejudices.

Age does influence learning. Older employees absorb concepts more slowly but learn as much as their younger colleagues. Age, however, doesn’t limit on-the-job performance.

Adults with good learning skills learn better than those without them. Thus, for adults with poor learning skills to learn, some training in learning might be necessary.

Adults want to enjoy learning (or training).

Adults will buy into training when it’s supported by supervisors and managers on the job site.

When adults are happy with their jobs, they’re less resistant to training.

Many internal auditors are skilled in auditing but lack information about their organizations’ overall operations. Thus, when they conduct internal audits, they spend a lot of time learning what the organization does instead of actually auditing processes. This wastes time that could be used more productively.


CADDIEM and needs assessment

Do you have a written, understood and applied model of instructional systems design? Can you show the auditor that you use it? The CADDIEM acronym stands for Contracting with the customer, needs Assessment and analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate and Maintain. The CADDIEM ISD is an iterative model adapted from the fields of instructional technology, quality and organization development. As such, it offers organizations excellent improvement opportunities, particularly in the murky realm of needs assessment. This is important when demonstrating to auditors that you actually analyzed and used data when making decisions about employee training and education.

Allison Rossett, Ph.D., professor of educational technology at San Diego State University, refers to needs assessment as “training needs assessment.” She defines it as “the systematic study of a problem or innovation, incorporating data and opinions from varied sources, in order to make effective decisions or recommendations about what should happen next.”

A needs assessment enables you to systematically gather information and data about current employee performance to reveal gaps between that state and the optimal level of performance.

Following are the requirements for conducting a needs assessment:

Select sources to be contacted.

Determine the stages of the NA.

Select and use NA tools.

Create items and/or questions to use in seeking information.

Consider critical incident analysis.


Another possibility is using Robert Mager’s steps for conducting a needs assessment, as follows:

1. Identify the nature of the discrepancy.

2. Determine if it’s important. How much will it cost to fix or to leave alone?

3. Determine whether it’s a genuine skill deficiency.

4. If the deficiency exists, determine whether the employee possessed the skill in the past.

5. Determine if the deficiency is caused by lost or deteriorated skill, whether used frequently or infrequently.

6. Are there simpler solutions than training (e.g., job aids or demonstration)?

7. Does the person have the potential to do the job?

8. If there’s no deficiency, does performance lead to punishment?

9. Does nonperformance lead to reward?

10. Determine whether obstacles prevent the desired performance.

11. Ask yourself, “What should I do now?”


Needs analysis

The needs analysis phase within CADDIEM consists of studying and making sense of the data you collected during the needs assessment.

Rossett identifies four reasons for performance problems:

Lack of skill and/or knowledge. Fix with training, job aids and/or coaching.

Flawed incentives. Fix by revising policies and/or contracts, training supervisors, and creating incentives and bonus plans.

Flawed environment. Fix by redesigning work, supplying new and improved tools, and offering better job selection and/or development.

Lack of motivation. Fix by informing workers of the benefits, impact and value of their work, linking to work challenges and using role models.


Importance of training evaluation

The Rice and Munro Evaluation Model (RMEM) was developed in response to the frustration experienced by many trainers regarding management’s lack of support for conducting more substantive evaluation. One such evaluation model is Kirkpatrick’s 4-level:

One--Reaction to the class or event. This is the one most people use but is the least effective.

Two--Has learning occurred? This is most commonly measured by pre- and post-tests.

Three--Has the behavior changed? This is usually determined by reviewing participants’ actions back on the job six months to a year after the training event.

Four--Results of the training. Does management see a positive result 18 months after the training event?


The RMEM uses both the foundations of the Kirkpatrick model and a process approach found in ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Integrating these evaluation and auditing methods highlights the company as a system.

The RMEM procedure includes the following steps:

1. Training manager reviews the need for Kirkpatrick evaluation levels three and four within the organization.

2. Training manager meets with the audit manager(s) of the quality

or environmental management systems to review upcoming audits in the company’s annual audit plan.

3. Training manager provides the audit manager(s) with names of individuals from areas to be audited who have attended training programs during the past six to 18 months. He or she also supplies questions to ask these individuals concerning how they’ve applied specific training course objectives and achieved expected outcomes.

4. An audit team conducts internal audits to the QMS or EMS and asks identified individuals questions about the training programs they attended. These findings are included in the organization’s internal audit reports.

5. Audit reports relating to the training items are shared with the training manager, who includes the information in the training history information for ongoing level three and four evaluations.


Training records

An organization must decide what constitutes appropriate employee training records and determine what will be maintained. The ideal would be a searchable database for each employee, showing all forms of learning, both within the organization and elsewhere. In this way an organization could use data-mining techniques to find the right people for special projects, problem-solving teams, promotional opportunities and the like. However, many organizations typically maintain only a file containing certificates of completed courses. How can this be improved upon and still work within your organization’s QMS and budget?

With various regulations for employee information safeguards, it’s difficult for the personnel office to maintain all the employee records needed. Top management should conduct a documented discussion about what the organization considers important in terms of training records. This will guide the personnel office in establishing a record process that can be used to capture information related to education, training, skills and experiences for each employee. This would be an excellent first step for many organizations to demonstrate their efforts toward improving the training record process.


Conclusion

We’ve briefly looked at various topics in the training arena, including what training is, learning theory, CADDIEM and needs assessment, an evaluation model, and training records. Training processes vary greatly from company to company. However, overall training processes don’t always deliver what companies want or need. We encourage managers and personnel departments to determine--by conducting needs assessments on the training process itself--the reasons why training isn’t working as well as they’d hoped. The answers they discover can serve as the starting point for continual improvement efforts within their organizations.


About the authors

Elizabeth J. Rice-Munro, Ph.D., is an ASQ Fellow and certified quality auditor. She’s facilitated the diffusion of cultural change, designed and delivered large-scale OEM/supplier communications interventions, coached executives and employees in the use of elite university programs, and designed and delivered learning interventions in quality systems to thousands of OEMs and suppliers throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Her most recent publication is Instructional Technology or (Educational Technology) Masters and Doctoral Study and Reference Deck (2003, Elizabeth J. Rice Investments LLC, Northport, Michigan).

Roderick A. Munro, Ph.D., is an ASQ Fellow, certified quality engineer, auditor and manager, and fellow of the Quality Society of Australasia. For more than 30 years, Munro has served, trained and consulted for a wide spectrum of industries across the United States, Canada and Europe, and trained and consulted several thousand production, nonproduction and transportation tier-one suppliers in quality systems. His latest co-authored publication from Paton Press is The ISO/TS 16949:2002 Answer Book.


About the series editor

Denise Robitaille is a consultant, writer and trainer. She’s also a lead assessor and certified quality auditor. She’s the author of The Corrective Action Handbook, The Preventive Action Handbook and The Management Review Handbook, each of which is available from Paton Press (www.patonpress.com).