Job Knowledge

In addition to decision-making skills and inter-personal skills, managers should also possess
job knowledge to perform their jobs effectively. Trainers acquire job knowledge through
on-the-job experience, coaching and understudy.
1. On-the-job experience: On-the-job techniques are most widely used. No other technique may interest the trainee so much as the location of the learner is not an artificial one in the classroom techniques. The success of these techniques depends on the immediate supervisor and his teaching abilities. On-the-job techniques are especially useful for certain groups like scientific and technical personnel. Though the costs of training initially appear to be low, they may turn out to be high when wastages of all kinds are considered under this type of training.
2. Behaviour modelling: This is an approach that demonstrates desired behaviour, gives trainees the chance to practice and role-play those behaviours and receive feedback. The basic behaviour modelling involves the following steps :
i. Learning points: At the beginning, the essential goals and objectives of the programme are stated. In some cases the learning points are a sequence of behaviours that are to be taught.
ii. Modelling: Trainees watch films or videotapes in which a model manager is portrayed dealing with an employee in an effort to improve his performance. The model shows specifically how to deal with the situation and demonstrates the learning points.
iii. Role playing: Trainees participate in extensive rehearsal of the behaviours shown by the models.
v. Social reinforcement: The trainer offers reinforcement in the form of praise Developing Managers and constructive feedback based on how the trainee performs in the roleplaying situation.
v. Transfer of learning: Finally, trainees are encouraged to apply their new skills when they return to their jobs. Behaviour modelling can be effective. Several controlled studies have demonstrated success in helping managers interact with employees, handle discipline, introduce
change and increase productivity.8 This method of learning in isolation may prove to be inadequate, but in combination with other off-the-job techniques may prove to be useful.
3. Coaching: In coaching, the trainee is placed under a particular supervisor who acts as an instructor and teaches job knowledge and skills to the trainee. He tells him what he wants him to do, how it can be done and follows up while it is being done and corrects errors. The act of coaching can be done in several ways. The executive, apart from asking trainees to do the routine work, may ask them to tackle some complex problems by giving them a chance to participate in decisionmaking. For effective coaching, a healthy and open relationship must exist between employees and their supervisors. Many firms conduct formal training courses to
improve the coaching skills of their managers. In coaching, participants can learn by actually doing a piece of work and obtain feedback on performance quickly.9 However, there is no guarantee that supervisors will be able to coach in an effective way. It is easy for the 'coach' to fall short in guiding the learner systematically, even if he knows which systematic experiences
are best. Sometimes doing the job on hand may score over learning and watching. Many skills that have an intellectual component are best learned from a book or lecture before coaching could take place. Further, in many cases, the learner cannot develop much beyond the limits of his own boss's abilities. Coaching would work well if the coach provides a good model with whom the trainee can identify, if both can be open with each other, if the coach accepts his responsibility fully, and if he provides the trainee with recognition of his improvement and appropriate rewards.
4. Understudy: An understudy is a person who is in training to assume at a future time, the full responsibility of the position currently held by his superior. This method supplies the organisation a person with as much competence as the superior to fill his post which may fall vacant because of promotion, retirement or transfer. An understudy is usually chosen by the head of a particular department. The head will then teach him what all his job involves. The superior involves him in decisionmaking by discussing the daily operating problems as well.
Understudy assignments help the superior to lighten his workload by delegating some portion of his work to a designated person. The understudy, in turn, gets an opportunity to learn the superior's job and get ready for challenging roles at a later date. It is beneficial from the organisation’s point of view also as it will not be at the receiving end when an executive suddenly leaves his job. On the negative side, the designation of a person as an understudy may spark off jealousy and rivalry among competing subordinates. Since the understudy has been specially picked up, others who are left out in the race may get a feeling that competition for promotions is
over. This would affect the motivation level of both the one who is designated (who tends to breathe easy, take the assignment for granted and even relax for a while) and the other personnel (who tend to carry the bitter feelings for a long, long time). The whole exercise would be beneficial only when trainees get a real opportunity to deal with challenging or interesting assignments (instead of performing paper shuffling chores).

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