Is There A Difference Between Training & Development?

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If we want to maximize training and development results by linking them to performance management we need to understand the difference between training activites and development activities. That's because it's important that we choose the right mechanism for addressing any needs we have.

Training usually refers to some kind of organized (and finite it time) event -- a seminar, workshop that has a specific beginning data and end date. It's often a group activity, but the word training is also used to refer to specific instruction done one on one.

Employee development, however, is a much bigger, inclusive "thing". For example, if a manager pairs up a relatively new employee with a more experienced employee to help the new employee learn about the job, that's really employee development. If a manager coaches and employee in an ongong way, that's employee development. Or, employees may rotate job responsibilities to learn about the jobs of their colleagues and gain experience so they might eventually have more promotion opportunities. That's employee development.

In other words employee development is a broader term, that includes training as one, and only one of its methods for encouraging employee learning.

The important point here is that different activities are better for the achievement of different results. For example, if the the desire is provide an employee with a better understanding of how the department works, job rotation might work very well. If the goal is to improve the employee's ability to use a computer based accounting package direct training would be more appropriate than, let's say, job rotation.


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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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  • Performance management and appraisal MUST be a partnership between manager and employee where BOTH benefit.
  • Performance management can be the lever for improved employee engagement.
  • The review process is the LEAST important part of performance management
  • If managers aren't managing employee performance, why are they there?

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  • Casselman
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  • Canada, K0A 1M0