Apple's Training And Development: An Assessment Case Study
Apple is one of the most well-known brands on the planet. It provides amazing technology with stellar service to countries all over the globe. Apple has a high consumer reputation for representing the highest quality products and the most innovative technologies. In many ways, Apple is well on its way to fulfilling its goals of being the best in the market. In order to continue getting closer to this goal, it is imperative for Apple to develop and maintain a training structure that will best provide efficient and innovative minds to help contribute to the overall success of the company as a whole.
Mission Statement and Goals
Apple's mission is ambitious. The company aims to make "the best personal computers in the world" (Apple, 2012). Apple wants to combine amazing and innovative technologies with quality hardware to best serve the numbers of consumers who know have a high expectation of Apple's personal computer products. It has to keep moving and developing new technologies to stay in such a high position within the market place. Moreover, Apple is focused on "leading "the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store" (Apple, 2012). Apple has become synonymous with digital music, and has capitalized on cloud technology and impressive hardware devices to provide music around the globe. It is continuing to work hard to deliver service and products that far outweigh any of its competitors within the digital music market. In addition, Apple continues "defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad" as one of its major missions in the contemporary market place (Apple, 2012). With competitors like Microsoft beginning to move into the tablet market, Apple has to work hard to stay on top. As such, Apple "focused on producing well-designed products, easy to use as tools of productivity or means of entertainment" (Baldoni, 2012). This will help keep its consumer reputation high, as well as its profits.
Such an ambitious mission statement undoubtedly has an impact on the training development and practice at Apple. The company needs a highly efficient and thorough training strategy to help select and groom potential creative thinkers into the company's overall structure. Proper training will help empower employees of all levels to be the most productive and beneficial workers they can me. Here, the research suggests that "inspiration emerges from purpose, knowing what you do and why you do it. Organizational purpose emerges from the vision, mission and values of an organization" (Baldoni, 2012). Apple needs to inspire all levels of its employees in order for it to have any chance of becoming the best in the world. Everyone from customer service to software designer contributes to the overall success of the company in general. "Creating a purposeful organization is not easy" and requires a good training strategy to continue to inject the company with employees who contribute meaningful back into the spirit and efficiency of the company as a whole (Baldoni, 2012).
Training Needs Assessment
In order to better empower training strategies, Apple needs to assess what potential problems may be lurking within the company. Thus, a training needs assessment is a perfect way to understand how to approach specific needs. According to the external research, "The purpose of a training needs assessment is to identify performance requirements and the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by an agency's workforce to achieve the requirements. An effective training needs assessment will help direct resources to areas of greatest demand" (U.S. Office of Personal Management, 2012). There are several major steps to a training assessment plan that will help better provide the company success in meeting its goals. During this assessment, Apple will "identify stakeholders, solicit support, describe desired outcomes to continue to mission objectives, clarify critical behaviors needed to achieve desired outcomes, and define required drivers essential to sustain critical behaviors" (U.S. Office of Personal Management, 2012). Understanding such factors will help Apple compensate for any weaknesses in its existing training and certification structure.
In designing an effective training and development plan, it is important to have a direct target. Customers, shareholders, and the employees of Apple itself are all stakeholders that aim to benefit if Apple's mission is realized. However, Apple needs to know exactly where to implement new developments in training to better serve the other shareholders that are not directly employed by Apple. Thus, the first step of the plan will be to gather data from assessment surveys filled out by employees of various levels. An assessment test can be given out, which asks the employees at Apple to rate certain behaviors and attitudes they see as important to their position. Elements embodying strong innovation and leadership skills will be closely examined to see where they might be lacking in terms of positions or departments. This will help show what groups need the most training, but can also serve as a starting point for later evaluations of future training plans to be understood.
Based on a survey of Apple's needs, an evaluation of desired outcomes to continue mission objectives can be conducted. First and foremost, Apple needs to be able to better build and create innovative technologies and products in order to stay on top within the market place. Apple wants to be the company to provide the best products on the market. It is clear that the behaviors that will contribute most to Apple succeeding in its goals are an innovative spirit and a tendency for strong leadership at every level of the company. The company needs to find a way through training to facilitate creativity and innovation on every level of positions.
A second need discovered in the assessment is the need for Apple employees to embody the quality image of Apple's stellar customer service. Apple needs to continue to provide the best service to be able to charge a higher premium for its more innovative technologies, compared to the prices of its competitors. The level and quality of its service augments the benefits of buying with Apple. As such, it needs training for leadership. According to the research, "leadership is a choice for individuals to make, but the leader must provide his or her team with clear direction founded on purpose and understanding" (Baldoni, 2012). This will help Apple empower employees to become more invested in the company through becoming leaders themselves that contribute to the success of Apple's realization of its mission statements.
Training Needs Development Plan
Apple already boosts a high level of innovation and creativity within its training structures. The goal here is to augment this already present quality, especially in departments that had otherwise spent less time and focus on implementing innovation lessons in training contexts. The company needs to provide hands-on activities within training of all levels of Apple employees to augment already strong training and certification programs. Apple must incorporate "engaging, in person training exercising relevant and important challenges rather than an impersonal or theoretical training at a computer" (Phillips, 2012). This can be done in workshops asking trainees to come with their own solutions for the unique problems they might encounter during their working experience at Apple before they actually encounter such problems. Training leaders can then also share methods for translating the skills learned and developing ongoing training for innovation can be implemented in the actual work environment. Apple should provide continuous workshops that help to inspire Apple employees and empower them with critical thinking skills. Training workshops can be held throughout the employment period and can focus on "building on and recognizing a deep body of knowledge from a range of experts" (Phillips, 2012). This will help fine tune employees' skills who are already certified, keeping them even more relevant in the field.
The best way to train for leadership is to use a number of strategies. This focuses on using a multi-faceted group of strategies to implement creative leadership training in already existing training methods. Here, the research suggests that "the best leadership programs are engaging" (Bacharach, 2012). Several different strategies should be used in conjunction with one another. This could include team project planning within training exercises combined with individual responses to building arguments for particular cases. The research shows that "the most successful leadership training balances illustrative stories, analytical lectures, interactive games, and relevant case material' (Bacharach, 2012). Moreover, leadership training must provide materials employees can use in later work activities. Thus, "participants need something solid to bring home," because "having the important take-always in a tangible form makes it easier for participants to continuously apply the material in their daily work," regardless of the level or position they are in (Bacharach, 2012).
There are both strengths and weaknesses in the training development plan. One major strength is the continuation of training passed an early employment period. Continuous training is important because learning itself is a continuous process, even in all levels of the company. Really being able to measure potential effectiveness is one weakness,…