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Performance Of Sales Assistants At Marks And Spencer
Taking in to the consideration the very popular and famous quote “Give a person a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a person to fish and you feed him for a life time”. This simple but profound saying is attributed to the wisdom of Confucius who lived in the 5th century BC. Given today’s situation and the business climate we are facing , the increasingly growing technology the effect it has on the economy and organizations at large , the need for training and development today is more important than it ever was for any organization to stay competitive (Ronald , 2003).
Organizations are increasingly recognizing that the key to their success is largely contingent upon the the capabilities of their employees – their human capital. Organizations performance is understandably dependent upon individual performance, as society moves towards increased emphasis on human rights, so organizations are moving toward sharper focus on developing the human potential (Dugan,2003). It is only natural here as we see the term Training and Development is a very old notion in this business age we need a much broader concept like Human Resource Development (HRD) as Swanson and Holton (2001, 4) define HRD as the process for developing and unleashing human expertise through organizational development and personnel training and development for the purpose of improving performance.
Training is an extremely crucial factor in all firms’ business strategy, but organizations don’t assess the huge impact of training and development programmes over the employees all the time. Training is only effective if it produces the desired outcome. It comes without surprise, therefore, that organisations both private and public undertake training and development initiatives. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, as Beardwell (1994) pointed out, some organizations still do not realize the full benefit of the training and development programmes they have invested in. When an organization implements a training programme, it sees to that there is an ideal forum on which the evaluation scheme can be built, and assessment of effectiveness of training and development activities can be done. This proposal elucidates the impact of an effective training programme in M & S on sales assistant and how it helps the career growth and development of employees. For this research i have chosen the M&S Farringdon branch which is a franchised branch run by SSP. I will also put forward some suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of the training that will help the organization to step into a bright future.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Performance refers to the accomplishment of something or mere working effectiveness. In an organisation to which Marks & Spencer is not an exemption, performance is realised at the levels of organisation, process and individuals and the interrelationships among these will define the vantage points of the organisation. In contributing to the overall goal of the organisation, training and development (T&D) processes are implemented as this benefits not just the organisation but also the individuals making up that organisation. For the organisation, T&D leads to improved profitability while cultivating more positive attitudes toward profit orientation. For the individuals, T&D improve job knowledge while also helping in identifying with the goals of the organisation. T&D is defined as the planned learning experiences that teach employees how to perform current and future jobs.
At its core is the improvement in the performance of individuals participating in T&D activities. Learning’s achieved through T&D therefore means to be translated as organisational resource by which the people acquire, infer and utilised. As such, performance contributes to the growth of the organisation specifically since they can implement in combination competences and expertise acquired through T&D. Further, T&D and how it impacts the performance of the employees in the business setting have received a significant attention from the researchers. Same goes in the service sector.
ORGANIZATION CHOSEN FOR THE RESEARCH
With more than 120 years of heritage, Marks & Spencer is one of the best-known British retailers. The company has more than 450 stores within the UK and employs more than 65,000 people. It also operates outside the UK where it has a developing business in places as far afield as Hong Kong.
In recent years, the UK’s retailing industry has been characterised by intense competition. Customers are more aware of where and how they want to shop. They also know what sort of shopping experience they require. This has made it much more difficult for retailers to survive.
Here we are talking about a Franchised M&S Simply Food which is run by SSP UK. As we know franchising is mainly a term used for fast food outlets and its famous in USA . Even outside the USA growth rate of franchising is impressive. As far as Europe is concerned, franchising made its first appearance as early as 1929 in France and has been on the increase ever since (Sang havi, 1998).
Franchising has been defined as a “type of business arrangement in which one Party (the franchiser) grants a license to another individual, partnership or company (the Franchisee) which gives the right to trade under the trade mark and business name of the Franchiser” (Clarke, 1997). Furthermore, the franchiser also normally provides the franchisees with information systems, through training programmes and a detailed operations manual so that “each franchisee operates within the franchiser’s corporate image, offering customers consistency in product and or services. Consistency day in day out from every location in the network is expected” (Clarke, 1997)
Since SSP opened its first M&s simply Food outlet at London’s Liverpool street station back in 2001, the partnership hasn’t looked back the marriage of the leading UK high street retailer Marks & Spencer with one of the world’s largest food and beverage operators has been a fruitful one for both parties. Today, SSP is Marks & Spencer’s largest UK franchise partner. It operates an M&s simply Food outlet at London taking the total it operates across the rail sector to 33. There are now ssp-operated M&s simply Food stores at every main London station, as well as stations in a number of other major UK towns and cities such as Edinburgh, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool. to date performance at these outlets has been strong. The unit at London Waterloo station for example is one of the busiest stores in Marks & Spencer’s UK estate. Paul horwell, UK Franchise Manager at Marks & Spencer explains: ‘ssp runs M&s simply Food outlets to the high standards expected by M&s and its expertise in the travel sector means it’s adept at operating in competitive and testing environments.
The quality of employees and their development through training and education are major factors in determining long-term profitability of a small business. If you hire and keep good employees, it is good policy to invest in the development of their skills, so they can increase their productivity (Beardwell, 1994)..
Training often is considered for new employees only. This is a mistake because ongoing training for current employees helps them adjust to rapidly changing job requirements.
In difficult times organisations require the flexibility, skill and knowledge that can be attained through training and development to steer clear to safety. I believe that organisations that cut employee development programmes in difficult times stand to lose rather than gain. This research aims to explore the relationship between T&D and performance, how financial benefits may be derived from effective training and development programmes and why it is critical for organisations to embrace training and development as part of their business strategies if they aim for competitive advantage and sustainable growth. I believe that this research will contribute to finding answers to the growing debate of how significant training and employee development is to a business if it seeks to gain competitive advantage.
The retail sector is incredibly competitive; so organizations must outperform their competitors in order to achieve significant growth. In this research, I will attempt to find out the Impact of Training and Development on the Performance of Sales Assistants in an M&S Simply Food Franchise operation – Farringdon Branch UK
The main aim of the study is to investigate how T&D impacts the performance of sales assistants in M & S. In lieu with this, the following research objectives will be addressed
1) What are the different approaches and methods to training and HRD in organizations including franchised operations?
2) What are the benefits and problems arising from training and HRD in organizations including franchised operations?
3) How is performance of employees after exposure to Training and Development measured including franchised operations?
4) What is the impact and the link between Training and Development and employee performance?
5) What are the benefits and problems arising from applying M&S training and HRD in the franchised operation at Farringdon Branch and what is the impact on employee performance at the branch?
To critically review the literature in the areas of Training, Human resource development and Employee performance, including the link between the three concepts in order to develop a conceptual framework on the impact of Training and Development on performance.
To apply the conceptual framework to design the research tools in order to collect and analyze the data and information from the sales assistants and managers from M&S Farringdon Branch.
To review the findings of the analysis of the data collection against the conceptual framework, to arrive at conclusions and recommendations in the context of the Impact of Training and Development on the performance of sales assistants in M&S Farringdon branch UK
“We are entering a world where the old rules no longer apply.”The opening quote in the best seller Rising Sun by Michael Crichton (1992) sums up how rapidly the future is changing and becoming unpredictable.
Training and development has clear motivational, performance and financial benefits to organisations since it works in partnership with their core processes aimed at creating mission-related products and services which have value to customers. However, in view of the fact that Training and Development is linked to an organisations core processes and works, and not as a goal on its own, most organisations find it difficult to fully appreciate the financial and other benefits associated with it (Swanson, 2001) . Given the commitment to the continuous changes taking place in all types of organizations, like their host human resource (HR) functions, change will be the only certainty for training functions and those responsible for training and development initiatives in their organization. Training functions will have to run differently as organizations expect more evidence that they are contributing to organizational success (Ronald 1998). Training and development creates a huge impact on the business and the profits eventually and that is mainly the reason why training and development should be able to change according to the needs, which is perfectly explained here.The Human Resource Development or Training and Development Department (or someone called the “trainer”) is a familiar subgroup in most organizations. There are different ways of training as Massie (1995) pronounced that on-the-job training is seen by many as perhaps the most commonly used training technique. On job training is the best way for the new employee to learn as the employee is watching and he can replicate the tasks and learn faster. Massie (1995) pronounced that on-the-job training is seen by many as perhaps the most commonly used training technique.
He suggested that although it can be used as simply engaging trainees in observing and copying from their trainers, it can as well take the form of a well structured, highly sophisticated approach that can be built into seminars, office practice or workshops.Web based learning is another very good option as said by Marquardt et al (1998) articulated that this learning technique employs technology to administer training programmes. As the business climate is changing every day .In short the pressure is on for trainers and training functions to reinvent ,reengineer ,revitalize, remake and improve what they do (Shandler 1996) . No single training intitiative , mmuch less an entire function , can fulfill its purpose without a need analysis . Needs analysis identifies the performance areas in which additional training is needed it also pinpoints the individuals or groups of employees who could benefit most out of training (Ronald,2003). Job rotation is another way for an employee to learn, however, in his opinion, Karwowski (2001) implied that job rotation is not seen by many as a training mechanism, but a means by which employers reduce repetitiveness and dullness that usually characterize people doing the same work over a long period of time. Web based learning is another very good option as said by Marquardt et al (1998) articulated that this learning technique employs technology to administer training programmes. As the business climate is changing every day .In short the pressure is on for trainers and training functions to reinvent ,reengineer ,revitalize, remake and improve what they do (Shandler 1996) .
Organizations are increasingly recognizing that the key to their success is largely contingent upon the the capabilities of their employees – their human capital. Organizations performance is understandably dependent upon individual performance, as society moves towards increased emphasis on human rights, so organizations are moving toward sharper focus on developing the human potential (Dugan,2003) . Organizations Training and development of employees is necessary for the operation of any organization because employees provide all the goods and services the organizations require making profits via work activities (Ronald, 1998). For example a machine technician in an organization knows how to operate a machine that produces paper there are a wide range of professionals involved in the development of consumer products from watches to satellites. The importance and value of training has long been recognized. Training functions must recognize the need to rethink the way they have provided training to their customers. This is most evident with increased efforts to explore ways of bringing training closer to the employee, to use available technology, and to find alternative ways to delivering training (Ronald 2003).
There is strong consensus that the effectiveness of training and development in the organization can be related to the degree of commitment shown by top management to the process.Thismust be seen as a logical deduction; after all , it is top management who hold the ultimate responsibility not only for setting strategic objectives, but also for devising the policies and plans through which these are expected to be achieved ( Thomas N Gravan . The criticality of a company philosophy supportive of training, expressed through top management commitment, is emphasised by Pettigrew et al (1988). In addition Harrison (1992) states that the cultural environment o the organization is primarily created by the top managemnt,and consequently the overriding for training and development activities. A number of reasons can be citied for this lack of top management support.
So, why would an organization not welcome and seek out the value-added benefits resulting from training? Training is not always the answer to performance Problems. Brandt Sakakeeny, training industry analyst for Solomon Smith Barney believes that training can be a great investment and training can be a waste of money(Rosner, 1999). Training is indeed a waste of money when the desired behaviour does not occur. Gupta acknowledges that not all performance problems can be addressed by Training. In many cases, non-training interventions are necessary (Gupta 1999).
The keys to identify what problems can be attributed to training deficiencies and, once that is accomplished, to insure that the right training is implemented. Bartram and Gibson, in their Training Needs Analysis Toolkit agree. Without the right training, employees can be your [the organization’s] biggest liability. Trained effectively, however, they can become your biggest asset (Bartram and Gibson, 2000). Rosner (1999) adds another ingredient for success – support after training. He states, “The most effective programs train workers in New behaviours and then train managers to support employees as they apply learning daily(Rosner, 1999, p.43). Support and endorsement from management can greatly enhance Training results. One can conclude that training is not always the answer, and when it is the answer, it has to be the right training. Training is big business. In 1998, American Companies spent $60 billion on Training (Roster, 1999)A strategic approach to training begins with the relationship between the organizations mission, strategic agenda , and its HRD needs. Current and future HR-workforce requirements are derived from a clear and widely shared understanding of what the organizations does and how it does it (Ronald , 2003).
Training may be directed specifically at motivating and retaining employees,Gaillie and White (1993) found in their study that employees ranked fourth in a list of 15 possible features essential to do a good job, and availability of training was found to increase their commitment to their current employer.Schuller and Bostym (1992) and Ross (1993) found that companies were likely to look favourably on an employee’s request for specific training at least indirectly related to their job though not non-vocational. Training and development can be dysfunctional if there is a minimum of integration between the achievement of qualifications and the organizations need for qualifications to fit current work activities.Nordhaug (1990) points out that this can take two forms, that of over education and misplaced training. Both of these can cause inefficiency and hinder individual and team performance.
Where training and development is provided it is based on a common skills approach. markwell and Roberts(1969) suggest that this approach is based on the assumption that the training and development requirement of employees in a given category are similar and can be met by a common programme, Because training and development are costly endeavours, they ” should be evaluated in the same way as other large investments, in terms of costs and benefits ”(Mosier,1990,p.45)Phillips (1991a) also recommends that firms measure training benefits by utilizing soft data items such as absenteeism, tardiness, turnover , job satisfaction, employee loyalty, problem solving ability, performance appraisal ratings and initiative. Kirkpatrick (1959a, 1959b , 1960 a , 1960b) noticed that training evaluations could be conducted with four possible training outcomes in mind: reactions , learning , behaviour and results.
To accurately evaluate the return-on-investment in training, it is essential that the firm be able to isolate the impact of training from the impacts of other factors. This requires careful evaluation design before the training program is actually implemented (Laurie Jo Bassi 1997) Reichheld and Teal (1996) caution that organisations face the prospect of losing the loyalty, motivation and commitment of both management and workforce if there is a lack of personnel training and development. Contributing to the discussion, Harrison (1992) argued that T&D must be inclusive such that, organisations and individuals can, with time, acquire ample experience and knowledge to achieve growth.
Organizations Training and development of employees is necessary for the operation of any organization because employees provide all the goods and services the organizations require making profits via work activities (Ronald, 1998).Franchising has become increasingly popular because, if it is properly managed, it is mutually beneficial to both parties. Franchising may be seen as a business relationship, whereby a franchiser must depend on the franchisee to undertake some action on the franchiser’s behalf (Dant and Nasr, 1998)In a franchise system, franchisers must depend on their franchisees to run their businesses efficiently. In return franchisers not only offer their support and advice in the form of information system, training and an operational manual, but they also monitor their activities to ensure that the reputation of the franchises system is not being damaged in any way by the activities of any one of them (Rubin, 1978).
RESEARCH DESIGN & METHODOLOGY
After reviewing the literature critically, the researcher is required to develop a suitable research method in order to fulfil the objectives. In order to go ahead and complete this piece of work, research will be carried out on the impact of training and development on the performance of sales assistants in an M&S simply food franchise operation – Farringdon branch
Methodology refers to the methods followed in collecting data and researching it on the lines of a developed discipline. (Creswell, 2003) The objective of this project was study the impact of training and development in marks and Spencer Farringdon. Branch UK
According to Baker (1995), Methodology explains a critical evaluation of alternative research strategies and methods. The research strategies enables in formulating a set of logic, or a set of procedures for making an approach towards the research questions.
Bryman & Bell, 2003 suggests that it leads to generate a common sense view of how researchers perform their work. The author suggests that meticulous and objective observations along with a detailed accurate analysis are required to develop the scientific discoveries. This fulfils the very core concept of research to extend and improve knowledge and understanding on a particular area.
Minacha, 2005 also revealed that primary data collection and research is very helpful as meaningful conclusion and interpretation cannot be entirely relied on secondary researches.
There are two methods for undertaking a research:
1) Quantitative – Quantitative research is outlined as a distinctive research strategy . In very broad terms it was described as entailing the collection of numerical data and as exhibiting a view of the relationship between theory and research as deductive, a predilection for a natural science approach ( and of positivism in particular),and as having an objectivist conception of social reality (Alan Bryman , Bell 2007). Basically, a quantitative research creates statistics through surveys, employing methods that include questionnaires and prepared interviews (Bryman and bell, 2007). A quantitative method is normally experimental, quasi-experimental, co relational or descriptive.
2) Qualitative – It’s a research strategy that usually emphasizes words rather than quantification in the collection and analysis of data . As a research strategy it is inductivist, constructionist and interpretivist ,but qualitative researchers do not subscribe to all three o these methods . As a term `quantitative research’ is sometimes taken to imply an approach to business research in which quantitative data are not collected or generated (Alan Bryman , Bell 2007) . Writers like Gubrium and Holstein (1997) have suggested that several traditions in qualitative research can be identified.
For this Research the researcher would be using the quantitative method as it is more suitable for this research because in this research , the researcher would sometimes be uninvolved with the subject and have no contact with them at all and researcher would typically bring a set of concepts to bear on the research instrument being employed , so that the theoretical work precedes the collection of data , whereas in qualitative research concepts and theoretical elaboration emerge out of data collection. And quantitative research would enable me to prepare questionnaires to a sizeable population in Marks and Spencer store in Farringdon to know their opinions on the impact of Training and Development on their individual careers and performances.
This relates to understand how a research should be conducted, it provides a framework comprising on accepted set of theories, methods and ways of defining data. (Collis & Hussey, 2003). In simple manner, it is used to provide brief guidelines about how a researcher would conduct the research. Therefore, it helps in designing the research by identifying how data would be collected and analysed.
The two basic philosophies involved in any research activity.
A positivist approach, quantitative methods could be constituted with smaller scale qualitative approach (Saunders et al, 2000). It should also be ensured that the involved assumption of objectivity is not compromised.Positivism is the faith, shared by the majority of scientists, that there is a truth that exists quite apart from our own perception of it, that it can be understood through observation, and that it follows general laws (Russell K. Schutt, 2006). The positivistic approach is often criticized because treating people separate from their social contexts is impossible and understanding of perception is very crucial. In addition, a highly structured research design imposes certain constraints on the findings and there seems a space to miss relevant and interesting findings. (Collis & Hussey, 2003
Interpretive Approach – In interpretive approach, the knowledge is contextual and a symbolic social construction is needed (Pelle,1995) . It is linked with phenomenology, which is mainly attracted in how social life is created by those who took part in it (Mikkelsen, 2005) In their book, Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research, Gary King, Robert Keohane, and Sidney Verba (1994, pp. 40, 42) suggest that interpretivist work can “help us ask the right questions and even give us additional confidence in our conclusions. But only with the methods of scientific inference will we be able to evaluate the hypothesis and see whether it is correct.” For their part, Yvonna Lincoln and Egon Guba (1985, p. 33) assert in their book, Naturalistic Inquiry, that the interpretive approach, or what they call post positivism, is “an entirely new paradigm.
Realism Approach – Realism shares two features with positivism , a belief that the natural and social sciences can and should apply the same kind of approach to the collection of data and to explanation, and a commitment to the view that there is an external reality to which scientists direct their attention (Alan Bryman , Bell 2007)
Two types of realism approach are
Empirical Realism – It simply asserts that , through the use of appropriate methods , reality can be understood. As such it ` fails to recognise that there are enduring structures and generative mechanisms underlying and producing observable phenomena and events ‘ and is therefore superficial'(Bhaskar 1989:2).
Critical Realism – It is a specific form of realism whose manifesto is to recognise the reality of the natural order and the events and the discourses of the social world . These structures are not spontaneously apparent in the observable pattern of events ; they can only be identified through the practical and theoretical work of social sciences (Bhaskar 1989:2).
To completely understand the necessity and actions taken by the administration, managers and the sales assistant in relation to their HRD programmes, the researcher will use the positivist and interpretive approaches. The bases of both these approaches will enhance and highlight several reasons the impact of training and development and also why many T&D programmes result in a failure by not producing the results, and the reason some organizations cut the budgets of training programmes believing that it’s not a priority. As a Business and management related research is commonly a mixture of positivist and interpretive, there could possibly reveal the occurrence of realism approach.
There are two main approaches for a research activity which are as follows:
1. Inductive Approach
2. Deductive Approach
Inductive refers to qualitative and deductive means to quantitative and are used accordingly for arriving at a conclusion. (Minacha, 2005) The empirical observations results into general conclusions in the Induction approach whereas in deductive approach theoretical models are developed through identifying the objective and hypothesis. (Bryman & Bell, 2003)
The researcher has chosen to use the Deductive approach for this research as there is lots of quantitative data to be analyzed.
In this section we turn our attention to the research strategy the researcher may employ . Each strategy can be used for exploratory , descriptive and explanatory research (Yin 2003). There are many different types of research strategies like case study, observation, experimentation and survey. (Saunders et al, 2003)
Experiment – Its is a form of research that owes much to the natural sciences , although it features strongly in much social science research , particularly psychology. The purpose of an experiment is to study casual links whether a change is one independent variable produces a change in another dependent variable (Hakim 2000).
Survey – The survey strategy is usually associated with the deductive approach. It is popular and common strategy in business and management research and is most frequently used to answer who , what , where , how much and how many questions. It therefore tends to be used for exploratory and descriptive research. Surveys are popular as they allow the collection of a large amount of data from a sizeable population in a higly economical way (Saunders,2003) .
Action Research – Lewin first used the term action research in 1946. It has been interpreted subsequently by management researchers in a variety of ways, but there are four common themes within the literature. The first focuses upon and emphasises the purpose of the research in action rather research about action (Coghlan and Brannick 2005).
Grounded Theory – Classic grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss 1967) is often thought of as the best example of inductive approach, although this conclusion would be too simplistic. It is better to think of it as `theory building` through a combination of induction and deduction. A ground theory strategy is , according to Goulding (2002),particularly helpful for research to predict and explain behaviour.
Case Study – Robson (2002) has defined case study as a strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using various sources of evidence.<
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