Human Resources and training at Panasonic

Konosuke Matsushita, founder of Japanese company Panasonic once said “Make People before Making Products”. If company has decided to train and develop people than it means that this company is on the right way and thinks of its future and sees its employees as long-term, competitive advantage.

Training is a process of obtaining new professional knowledge, skills and abilities by company’s employees based on development plans of different departments which in turn are part of company’s strategy. Training can be different in form, content and type of implementation. It all depends on specific objectives, timing and budget.

According to Armstrong “Training is the use of systematic and planned instruction activities to promote learning. The approach can be summarized in the phrase ‘learner-based training’. It involves the use of formal processes to impart knowledge and help people to acquire the skills necessary for them to perform their jobs satisfactorily.”

There are different types of training and appropriate one should be chosen based on content of training.

Trainings are used mainly for development of specific managerial and financial skills – planning, motivating, time-management, effective sales, negotiations, presentations. With help of trainings personal effectiveness of managers can be increased – orientation for result, resistance to stress, conflicts management, communication skills, leadership. More than 70% of trainings time is devoted to business games and their analysis and also paying attention to remembering the most effective behavior strategy in different business situations. Learning on trainings is more efficient than on lectures or seminars because new information is not only explained by trainer but also is transferred into examples with constant efficiency control.

Skills change or expansion may be needed for employee for work fulfillment, can be caused by broadening of his or her scope of activity or by promotion to new position. Sometimes changes can occur due to change of activity priorities.

Ideally, to be efficient any training program should be made up of four stages:

Preliminary estimate. The goal of this stage is to determine needs of training.

Setting up training goals. The purpose of this stage is to estimate value of training outcomes that employees will achieve after completion of training.

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Training. The purpose of this stage is to choose methods and training itself.

Evaluation. The purpose of this stage is comparison of the results before and after training and estimate of training efficiency.

Training and development program helps to form workforce that has better abilities and strong motivation for solving issues that company faces. Also it leads to rise of productivity and so to increase of human resource value. Therefore training and development process should be viewed as investment of the company to non-material assets of the company.

Training and development of the employees nowadays means a lot for companies. It is explained by the fact that performance under conditions of competitive market impose high requirements to the level of staff qualification and skills and knowledge’s of employees. Working environment and conditions are changing rapidly and those skills and knowledge employees had yesterday will lose effectiveness today and tomorrow will become irrelevant at all. Business macroenvironment(government policies, legal and taxation system, new rivals come to market, new procedures and technologies emerge) is changing rapidly as well as microenvironment(restructuring of the organization). Changes in these both environments force majority of the companies to prepare their employees for today’s and tomorrow’s changes.

In 21st century, with its realisation that the pace of change drives the need for learning and adaptability for all employees, will be about the learner and lifetime learning. Modern approaches to learning are based on necessity of discovering employees potential when employees are seen as key factor that determines effectiveness of using all the rest of the company resources. Experience of the most successful shows that investments to employees, creation of conditions for professional growth and preparation them to solve emerging issues will give feedback quickly. Staff training and quick adaptation to new conditions is a key to successful development of company and strong competitive ability of the company. But it all demands investments. Experience shows that sometimes recruitment and training of young and without experience staff the most effective and well-timed. Those companies that keep on looking for experienced specialists and ignore training of recruited employees can spend significant amount of time and achieve no result. Personnel training is highly important investment to achievement of efficient results of business performance. Young, well-trained employees are more capable for learning, mastering and implementation of acquired skills and knowledge. Modern life is changing rapidly and staff training and development still remains very topical issue nowadays.

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Statistics shows that 1$ invested in people brings 3 to 8$ of profit. Annually major western companies spend 2-5% of their budget for training and development. The American Society For Training & Development (ASTD) study based on 301companies shows that in 2009 despite tough economic times businesses invested 130 billion dollars in employee learning and development which is roughly 1030$ per employee (http://www.astd.org/NR/rdonlyres/EEEEBED3-0EFB-44DE-85C5-1745614DED75/0/2009SOIRreleaseFINAL.pdf). So, as we can see, training and development is very important aspect of any company and the result of this process is good financial indicators of company’s performance.

The good example of the company that pays a lot of attention to training and development is global brewing and bottling company SABMiller plc. The company was founded in 2002 by merging of South African Breweries(SAB) and North American Miller Brewing Company. It is now third largest brewing company in the world with 68,635 employees all over the world and net income of 2.16 billion US dollars in 2009. The company invests a lot of money to training and development of employees. To start with company’s values statement, where the first point is “Our people are our enduring advantage” because as SABMiller believes “… people determine the success of the business…” (http://www.sabmiller.com/index.asp?pageid=108). And indeed, as we can see from statistics SABMiller spends 6,1% of its payroll on training, which exceeds international benchmark and it scored 20% in skill development – much more than their rivals(http://free.financialmail.co.za/projects06/topempowerment/stories/lbee.htm). As the company states itself, it invests “substantially” in training and development. They use traditional methods of learning along with modern ones as action learning, e-learning, on-job-training. They have more than 400 different courses and programmes to employees in all their operations. As the company reports, each employee went through 4.4 days of training in 2009.

The major trainings in SABMiller for line managers are “Implementation of World Class Manufacturing practices”, “the performance management”, “talent management” and “quality assurance systems”. The company conducts informational seminars dedicated to introduction of new procedures and practices. Also every employee should go through labour safety and industrial safety trainings.

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World Class Manufacturing (WCM) training is carried out in SABMiller because the company follows and implements WCM principles to achieve successful performance and operate effectively. The term WCM is a very broad one but will generally include following: a new approach to product quality, just-in-time production techniques, change in the way the work force is managed, a flexible approach to customer requirements(Performance measurement for world class manufacturing: a model for American … By Brian H. Maskell). Trainees learn WCM principles Total Quality Control, Total Quality Management, Total Productive Maintenance, Just In Time practices and continuous improvement.By making line managers go through WCM training, company improves implementation of above-mentioned principles, which results in higher productivity.

The performance management training is also very important. Performance management, as defined by M. Armstrong is “a strategic and integrated process that delivers success to organizations by improving the performance of people who work in them and by developing the capabilities of individual contributors and teams.”

To achieve success in business, managers of the company should possess skills of forecasting performance results in constantly changing business environment, plan allocation of material, human and financial resources for their achievement and thus provide prosperity of the company. In SABMiller, as well as in any other company, it is highly significant. It helps to improve performance of the company by ensuring that managers fulfill their duties effectively. Performance management brings clarity to company: people know their duties, feedbacks on results help to improve them, goals are set individually to achieve overall goal. “Performance management is about establishing a culture in which individuals and groups take responsibility for the continuous improvement of business processes and of their own skills, behavior and contributions”(http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/perfmangmt/general/perfman.htm). By introducing performance management practices, each individual, team and department work to achieve best key performance indicator to make contribution in achieving overall goal. By collecting performance date and studying KPIs, managers can identify risks and areas for improvement, which also contributes to company’s productivity.


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