Archive for the 'HR Development Overview' Category

HRD Learnings

ADLT 620 – HRD Overview – Final Refelction

Engagement in learning

One thing I enjoyed about the class this summer is that the size allowed for plenty of opportunities for dialog and discussion. I think I felt most engaged during these times and for me, I realize that I actually learn more or, rather, my learning seems to take deeper roots when I have an opportunity to dialog about reading. It also helps me to hear perspectives and experiences of others in the class, instructor and fellow learners. I would also say that I was quite engaged in Weisbord’s text. His stories made all the theory come alive for me. I also really enjoyed reading about the historical perspectives getting to know more about some of the giants in the field.

As far as the time I felt most distant from the learning experience was often when the learning was less active. For me, this is often during a PPT presentation. It’s not always that I find myself least engaged during a presentation. I think that when the presentation is broken up and questions are asked and connections are made to the instructor’s or fellow learner’s experiences and view points, then I become more engaged. However, when a presentation is mostly just presenting/summarizing readings then I find myself less engaged. I think that I was also less engaged with the Gilley text, too. To me it was a bit dry, like reading a long list of bullet points with little connection to practical use.

Learning about myself

I think that one thing that I have realized more clearly from this class is that I really enjoy gaining insight into theory and thinking behind ideas/concepts, particularly in relation to small and large group dynamics/interventions as well as understanding more about how my own self/psychology and things to be more aware of when working in groups. One example is my fascination with Lewin’s work, as well as Trist and Emery, Lippit and others. I think I had a number of vicarious learning experiences through the stories of their experiences.

In particular, the story of Lippit measuring the reactions/responses of different leadership styles on young boys really struck me. It helped me to gain some insight into why I prefer a participatory leadership versus coercive or autocratic. It seems that participatory leadership respects the potential of the individual to contribute to the purpose of the group. In my view, this respects a basic human potential. When such respect is there, trust seems to naturally grow and bring about connectedness and cohesiveness. I think that one thing that I think I can apply to my life is to be even more conscious of my leadership style when working in groups. I have tried to use a facilitative approach when I have been in a leadership role, but I think I slip sometimes into an autocratic/unilateral functioning, especially when there is stress.

My best work

The criteria I would have for my best work are it would be highly engaging, highly relevant, focused effort, significant   learning about myself as well as learning that can be applied to other situations, quality outcome, and of benefit to others. The reasons for these criteria are that if I find the work relevant, I will automatically become more engaged. It’s important to me to learn about myself as well as something that I can use when working with others because the more I know and understand myself, the more I feel I can be effective when working with others. Quality outcome is important to me because I have high standards for myself (fortunately or unfortunately – sometimes it can be a hindrance, I think!). I also feel it’s important that my work can be of some practical use to others, either to help others learn or benefit in some way.

The one thing that I think represents my best work in this course would be the interview I conducted with a HRD professional. I think that the interview went well in itself in that I felt it was quite relevant and also that the position she held was something that I didn’t know much about – talent management and performance management. I also felt that I  could relate some of the learning I had from the class and reading directly to the interview. I also found that I often referred back to the interview throughout the rest of the semester and found connect and relate our readings and learning back to it. I also think that my sharing in class hopefully helped others to have some insight into what I learned from the interview.

Personal learning needs

There are several personal learning needs that I have identified from the HRD overview class. One is to learn more about performance measurement and management. I have actually never been in an organization where there was a regular performance review (PR). The business or government jobs I had quite a years ago had not implemented PRs at the time I was there. And the nonprofit I worked with for 18 years was so small that there was not a standard formal process of performance review. I did attend a leadership workshop where I had to solicit 360 feedback from my fellow workers and then write about what I learned from it. That was very helpful for my personal learning and development.

So, I feel like I need to learn more about this. One way I plan to do this is to research articles that I can read from the VCU online databases.

Another personal learning need I discovered is to have a better understanding of some of the different aspects of psychology and some other organizational theories – particularly change theory. One way is to continue reading on these topics and another would be to take a class. I am considering taking a class in psychology (although I’m not sure what kind quite yet – child psychology, social psych, or …).

I enjoyed this class greatly and have found that there are many areas in which I would like to deepen my learning besides the few I mentioned above.


HRD Leadership & Corporate U’s

ADLT 620 – HRD Overview – Session 8

HRD Leaders, Chief Learning Officers

It looks like a leader in HRD needs to have a bag full of tricks… Well, I guess to be an effective leader in any organization, you need to have a pretty rounded set of competencies. The thing that strikes me about a leader in HRD is that besides some general leadership qualities, another set of competencies around learning need to be included. A key competency that surfaced for me is the whole idea around building partnerships and collaborative relationships in an organization. This also involves a PR component. And ultimately, it seems quite essential to be able to understand how HRD can impact the org strategies/goals to increase productivity or effectiveness.

I think back on when I was a co-team leader of an educational team for a nonprofit organization and I realize that the various roles Gilley describes were ones that I fell into, some without fully realizing, and in some cases, not at all realizing that was a role I was playing. Well, there is nothing like OJT… eh? Some of the roles I learned on the job, whereas others only afterward, reflecting on things that didn’t work out and why. I can say, I wish I had more clarity about the roles that were a part of that position, but I think that my lack of knowledge and resulting experiences helped to propel me into my current trajectory of adult learning with a focus in HRD.

Corporate U’s

It was interesting to hear our guest in the last class talk about the corporate university in the company she works. It struck me that she considers her setting to be a learning organization. Hmmm… I imagine it would be an incredible environment in which to work where a key focus is on learning. Ah, to be in a mutual learning environment. It would be quite a challenge, I imagine, to always keep learning in mind. But, I imagine, there might be a great community that develops, too. Instead of looking for blame, there would be a setting where everyone realizes they might not have the full picture and would make efforts to expand their pool of knowledge by including others, as much as possible. I think this could be an environment that moves towards the meaning, dignity, and community that Weisboard so often mentions…

Participation or imposition…

ADLT 620 – HRD Overview – Session 7

It was interesting to look at the ideas of performance management (PM) as put forward by Gilley et al. (1) in parallel with Weisbord’s views on whole systems work and the ideas of Future Search. At first they seemed like they were divergent perspectives. I don’t think that Weisboard is against PM. I just think it is how it is implemented that he may be concerned with. Gilley seems to indicate a top down approach with managers having key roles. Whereas, I think Weisboard’s approach would indicate a participatory process in establishing all aspects of a PM system.

I recall in Weisbord (2) where he told the story of the quality circles first developed in Japan and how when there was a focus on quality there was significantly higher productivity than any prior output quotas set by management. To me, the issue seems to be is if the culture is ready for a participatory solution in implementing the PM system. I would imagine there would be more commitment and if one of the goals is really to develop employees, then if the employees were are part of developing the system, the would be more committed.

Personally, Weisbord’s approach is one I would prefer. However, I also realize that it is probably rare to find a culture that would be ready for such an approach. I think part of the question is being able to look at where the balance of the Theory X/Theory scale is in myself. I think that we also don’t have so many cultural examples of Theory Y as models to look towards. We probably automatically revert to a default model 1 behavior, or unilateral control. To do something like a large group/whole system in the room process for looking at performance would trust the diagnosis to the group of stakeholders rather than the ‘expert’. I am intrigued by such an approach. I have done some work with groups as a facilitator where I have set up a process for and allowed the group to arrive at outcomes, both in planning initiatives as well as learning events. In both times of events I have been awed by the outcomes. They have almost always been much more than I could have dreamt, much less pulled out of one of my pockets…


Gilley’s HPT system seems to put the onus on the expert to diagnose and implement the HPT system. To me the HPT model we look at in class is a tool that a consultant, internal or external, could use as a part of diagnosing a system. I see this as a tool for an HRD practitioner that could be used in different ways.

Lewin, the Practical Theorist

ADLT 620 – HRD Overview – Session 4

Lewin seems to have had a huge influence key practical areas of HRD – action research, systems thinking, unfreeze-move-refreeze, group dynamics, feedback, the learning organization, … I found it very interesting to learn of his theories, experiments, and experiences. So many struck me – his early idea (which was ridiculed) of studying the farmer and his tools, field theory and the Force Field Analysis, the experiment with Lippit on democratic/autocratic/laissez-faire leadership of boys,  with Margaret Mead on woman making food decisions during wartime, and then the T-groups which ultimately evolved into the NTL.

I don’t know quite what to say more, except that I’m fascinated and want to learn more about Lewin. When I read about his experiments, I actually have some deeper insights into my own experiences, especially when I think of groups. The significance of the style of leadership seems to be so important. The finding that when there was more autocratic style of leadership practiced, there was more aggressive behavior in the group of boys. This seems to connect to the need for dignity and respect within each human being. I guess the style of autocratic leadership could be important. Is it benevolent or coercive and cruel? Perhaps, if there were more benevolence there could be different outcomes. I think sometimes of Plato’s idea of the philosopher-king. But that’s an ideal, isn’t it? We haven’t the historical evidence of a human being able to fulfill that role.

And so, then it seems I am left with the equal challenge of learning about both myself and the group, and this includes myself in relation to the group and individuals within the group. Lewin’s parting statement to Lippit is one to keep in mind for me, “We all need continous help from each other. Interdependence is the greatest challenge” (Marrow, 1969, p. 226)

Wiesbord, M. (2004), Productive workplaces revisited: Dignity, meaning, and community in the 21st century. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Weisbord’s early journey and some HRD history

ADLT 620 – HRD Overview – Session 3

I really enjoy reading Weisbord’s stories of how his learning about learning in the workplace started. The stories bring all the theory alive, make it relevant, paint a picture of what really happens when you put something into action. There seems to be always the unexpected odd thing/situation/event that requires adapting to. The fact that the situation at his family’s printing company became such that a wall was built to separate people. It seems extreme, but he allowed it because he was shifting to a more participative approach. And later, the wall came down when the work redesign and teams really began to go smoothly.

I think one thing that struck me was that  Weisboard considers that we all have both Theory X and Y within us. X being a tendency towards laziness and incompetence. Y being self-motivated to learn, grow and develop one’s potential.

And then there is Taylor, father of scientific management. Ah… applying the machine model to life at work. The worker is dumb and just needs to be told what to do to be more efficient which the engineer determines and then puts on a work card. Efficiency, production, pay for what work you do. I am struck that many things about Taylor actually made some conditions better at the work places of the time. There was also the key point that he always brought the workers into the picture before a new system was implemented and actually worked with them to make it happen.

However, it seems quite obvious now that he totally left out the human aspect of the worker – didn’t consider that a worker could learn, or even had learned anything that might contribute to the overall work, or the social aspects of the workplace. And the impact of Taylorism or Theory X still runs through many organizations, and I think as Weisboard says, it runs through each of us to some degree or another. I was struck how Taylor avoided conflict, but then he seemed to have extreme demands about implementing his system and seemed to have had his spells of being angry at management in some of the companies he worked with. But then, examining the psychology of the self had not started yet and so, he seemed to be missing some tools and resources that later practitioners in the same field had available.

Just what is HRD…

ADLT 620 – HRD Overview – Session 2

It seems like the  concept of HRD is in an evolutionary phase and it’s not quite fully clear to many. I must admit, I wasn’t so clear just what HRD included and the name doesn’t necessarily make it any clearer. I can see by some of the articles we read the name is in question by those who practice the various aspects. It’s because of the many different roles that often fall under the canopy of HRD.

I’ve experienced the training for activity trap. A training is created to solve an apparent problem and then it’s rolled out and finished. Often there is hardly a follow up. It’s somehow expected that everyone gets it at the training. And yet, I’m certain that it’s know that not all participants walk out with the same learning and fewer still put into practice what they’ve learned. So, the question is how to integrate learning and development with all of the aspects of HRD. Gilley et all talk about HRD involving individual development, performance mgmt, career development, and org development.

And the key really seems to be to raise HRD into a strategic level of consideration for the whole organization. Not that it’s just another training to do, or some team building to do… but fitting into the whole picture and plan to grow an effective learning organization. Hmmm… a learning organization, that concept is still evolving for me.

Overview of overview…

ADLT 620 – HRD Overview – Post 1

Well, it looks like it will be an opportunity to gain more insight into just what HRD is all about. After all, I am in the HRD track of the adult learning program… I scanned some of Weisbord’s book and it looks interesting – a mix of history and his own experiences in the field. It’s also interesting that I’m taking this class now after having taken consulting skills, org learning & culture, and change strategies. I have a sense that some gaps will be filled.

It was interesting to hear the different perspectives in the class of just what HRD is. The class seems to have a diverse background. I think that always leads to rich discussions, which I look forward to.

Filling in the gaps…

Ref: bookmarks