Monday, 11 June 2012

Training is more effective for those in their chosen job

Why do some get more out of training than others? One major factor is motivation, leading to such outcomes as greater skill acquisition, higher post-training confidence, and stronger intentions to apply the learning in the workplace. Trainers and researchers now understand ways to act on this, enhancing motivation by giving participants more control over the procedures of training and a choice in whether to participate in the first place. What else could help? Many models suggest that intrinsic motivation is facilitated by autonomy: the sense that you've chosen to be where you are, or do what you are doing. A recent study provides evidence that having a job that you chose to be in is linked, through motivation, to positive training outcomes.

John Patrick and his team from Cardiff University recruited as study participants 232 military instructors from across the British armed forces, themselves about to receive training on how to be a more effective instructor. For 161 participants, instructor was their job of choice, whereas the 72 remaining participants had this job assigned to them. Prior to training, they completed a questionnaire identifying their motivation for the course; after training they indicated their intention to apply the learning in the workplace. On both occasions (pre- and post-training) the instructors also provided ratings of self-efficacy - their confidence in their ability to carry out their instructor duties - and completed items testing their knowledge of the topic areas covered by the training.

Patrick's team built and tested a model wherein being in one's chosen job would cascade through pre-training attitude into post-training outcomes. They found that being in a job of choice was associated with higher pre-training motivation, which had the post-training benefits of greater knowledge acquisition and greater intention to apply the learning in the workplace. Being in a job of choice was directly associated with intention to apply learning, regardless of motivation. Although post-training self-efficacy was also higher for this group, this is less remarkable as the mechanism was unrelated to motivation, but simply that these individuals tended to have higher self-efficacy from the beginning.

The authors conclude that "it is important, whenever possible, to grant employees their choice of job when being moved within an organization" - not just for the sake of long-term aspirations, or their immediate performance, but in terms of their capacity and willingness to improve over time.

ResearchBlogging.orgPatrick, J., Smy, V., Tombs, M., & Shelton, K. (2012). Being in one's chosen job determines pre-training attitudes and training outcomes Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 85 (2), 245-257 DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8325.2011.02027.x

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