Understanding and Managing People

Understanding and Managing People

Understanding and Managing People

An understanding and managing person is a core mandate of the management in various organizations. Most of these management practices begin with the identification of a challenge in the work environment, which acts as the starting point to additional assessment. This paper emulates the same process by identifying a workplace challenge prior to a review of various leadership approaches and interventions that are useful in addressing various workplace challenges and assessment of progress and learning. The creation of a personal learning plan exemplifies the importance of learning in the improvement of operational and managerial efficiency amongst managers.

Understanding and Managing People

The approach to understanding and managing people may take on different approaches. Of these approaches is the use of interventions by the management of various corporations, especially those going through workplace challenges. This paper looks into the various interventions and approaches used by management, as well as the process of creating a personal development plan that should guide management in personal and professional learning that should boost the understanding and management of people.

Identification of a workplace challenge

Deducing from previous personal and professional experiences, a workplace challenge that is applicable to the management of employees is the merger of a company. The process of conducting a merger between two previously independent corporations presents a challenge to a company in the sense that there are many impending changes with the merger, most of which directly influence the operational capacity of the employees in the company (Bansal, 2017, pp. 423 – 424). In this regard, practical examples of the necessary approaches and interventions by line managers and leaders in the organization is required to show the attempts to ensure the employees remain motivated, engaged and committed to the organization. The section below outlines the various approaches used by management as well as the expected outcomes of the approaches and interventions.

Evaluation of leadership approaches and interventions

The smooth continuity of operations is vital in a company that undergoes various types of workplace challenges. Continuing with the previous example of a merger between the firms as the workplace challenge, there is a need for management to assume various approaches and interventions in order to ensure smooth continuity. Such approaches and interventions are meant to ensure the employees in such an organization maintain high levels of motivation, engagement, commitment, and retention at the company. The following are approaches and interventions that are applicable by the managers in such an organization in order to ensure, among others, employee retention during and after workplace challenges.

Kirkpatrick approach

Among the most effective classical approaches to leadership intervention is the use of a four step approach to managing and understanding people. The process, developed by Kirkpatrick, presents a hierarchical model that is useful in guiding the interventions in organizations. In spite of the various criticisms of the model, it has remained effective and useful to date. Primarily, the Kirkpatrick approach, as well as various other descendant models, involves a four step process with each having different variables at each level (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014).

The first step in the Kirkpatrick approach involves the use of a reactionary approach, where the leader evaluates the reactions of the employee to assess their level of comfort or disturbance by the prevailing event. The second step, known as the learning stage, involves acquiring and administration of new information. Such information should be assessed by the leadership to ensure it is useful in weathering the new challenges at the workplace (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014).

The third step involves the use of a behaviour approach, where the leaders or management assess the changes in behaviour, which usually result from the changes from the previous steps. Management will ordinarily make use of various assessment methods such as observation of productivity as well as data analysis to determine the changes in the behaviour of employees (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014). The final step within the Kirkpatrick approach involves an analysis of the results to determine the effectiveness of the approach. Such methods as return on investment, and measures of quality and costs are useful at this level of the approach.

In the case of the workplace challenge described above, the management may decide to adopt the Kirkpatrick approach in assessing the impact of the merger between the companies on the employees. They begin the assessment through the measurement of reactions of the employees to the idea and process of the merger, which may be achieved using tools such as a reaction questionnaire. This is followed by instilling changes in knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Such changes are assessed using various types of performance tests applicable to the type of business and changes within the organization (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014).

The third stage would involve the management assessing the changes in the employees with regard to the new information instilled in the previous step. Such changes may include the understanding of the purpose, as well as the new goals of the merger. The management finally commences on the assessment of the results from the intervention process, whose goal is to determine the effectiveness of the approach (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014). This involves measuring of costs of the merger, the quality of changes to the employees, and potential returns on the investment involved in the merger.

The Hamblin Approach. An alternative approach to the Kirkpatrick model is the Hamblin approach, which is an extension of the Kirkpatrick approach. This model uses the same base model as the Kirkpatrick approach, with the exception of the inclusion of an additional fifth step. This additional step involves the assessment of final value, where the management determines the impact of the changes of the process to the organization, the employees, and the economy at large (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014, pp. 5 – 6). In the identified workplace challenge of the merger, the fifth stage introduced by Hamblin would effectively measure the impact of the merger on the economy, the employees and the organization through a financial point of view.

A number of alternative approaches that have a similar base to the Kirkpatrick approach exist. These include the social impact approach developed by Kaufman, Keller, and Watkins, the business and social impact approach by Molenda, Pershing, and Reighuluth, the CIRO approach by Warr, Bird, and Rackham, and the ROI approach by Phillips and Holton among others (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014).

The Carousel of Development Approach

The Carousel of Development Approach was developed by the Industrial Society as a means to evaluate the process of learning and adapting to changes within the organization. The precept for the Carousel of Development approach is that the process of change and evaluation ought to take place a substantial period both before and after training and education on new issues of concern to the organization (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014, pp. 7 – 8).

The Carousel of Development approach makes use of a circular model where the process begins with the planning stage, whose target is to identify the business needs of the organization. The second stage of this approach involves the process of defining and developing of specific objectives for the organization. The third stage in the process is one where the management designs the learning process for the employees and various other stakeholders. The fourth stage follows the process by implementing the learning process developed in the previous stages (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014).

A fifth stage within the Carousel of Development approach involves the implementation of the information absorbed from the learning process in the third and fourth stages. This stage involves the use and reinforcement of the learning process. The sixth stage of this approach involves judging the benefits of the process to the various stakeholders; the organization, the employees, and the economy at large. This stage involves the use of varying measures of assessing such benefits to the stakeholders. Such measures include the financial benefits drawn from the process, the satisfaction of the customer, and measures of quality of both the process and the resulting product (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014, pp. 7 – 9).

In the case of the merger scenario as a workplace challenge, the management may choose to adopt the Carousel of Development Approach in managing the people as well as the resultant changes. In this context, the identification of the business need represents the needs for the merger. This stage occurs a period prior to the learning and change phase as prescribed by Andrew Forrest (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014). The development objectives, in this case, may include the unification of the goals of the different firms. This approach enforces the learning process as it divides the learning process and the planning phase for the learning in a bid to ensure efficiency.

Once the planning is concluded, the learning process commences, which is aimed at ensuring the employees experience the learning process in its entirety. The fifth phase involves a reinforcement of the learning and change process. This includes the use of testing procedures to ensure the employees grasp and reinforce the learned materials over time. The final stage in this process involves the deployment of checks to ensure the merger process, as well as the learning and change processes, provide various classes of benefits to the organization. The primary checks used are measures of quality, customer feedback, as well as the economic and financial benefits of the merger.

Expected outcomes of leadership approaches and interventions

The various approaches outlined above have a focus on the learning and change process during and after a challenge in the workplace. In such a scenario, the interventions apply the focus to the employees since they are the first line of contact for the business’ customers. In addition, the employees present an important task to the managerial team in the case of a challenge such as a merger, since they ought to manage the people and seek to understand the views and feelings of the employees – since such may translate, either negatively or positively to the customers. This, in effect, has the potential to influence the performance of the business both in the long term and the short term. As such, there are various expected outcomes of the various leadership approaches and interventions outlined above. These expected outcomes are expounded below.

Employee motivation. A focus on the employees is critical for the approaches outlined above. Considering the workplace challenges of an impending merger, it is important to have the employees motivated throughout the process. In such a development, some employees may be worried about their prospective employer, or the chances that the security of their jobs may be undermined under the new structure (Conrad, Ghosh, & Isaacson, 2015; Lazaroiu, 2015). It is imperative, therefore, that the management ensures that the employees maintain a high level of motivation.

Employee engagement. In terms of employee engagement, the line managers expect to create an environment that is conducive for work. Within such conditions, the employees are expected to have a sense of daily engagement, where they give their best to achieving the goals, visions, mission, objectives, and targets of the organization (Allen & Turner, 2017; Guaspari, 2015). In the scenario of the merger as a work place challenge, the management will need to develop a culture that ensures the employees understand the need for the change, as well as their role in enabling the success of the new organizational structure. In this regard, taking the Carousel of Development Approach as an example, the line managers need to take the respective employees through the various stages to enable for a smoother and better adoption of the new organizational structure (Allen & Turner, 2017).

Employee commitment. A key task for the management of the organization is to ensure the members of staff are ready and willing to offer themselves fully to achieving the laid out organizational objectives. The actions and behaviour of management towards the employees is an important factor that heavily influences the commitment of the employees (Lam, O’Donnel, & Robertson, 2015). In this regard, and in continuity with the example of a merger as a workplace challenge, the organization may choose to make use of the various leadership approaches and interventions in a bid to drive the employees to improve on their commitment (Lam, O’Donnel, & Robertson, 2015).

Employee retention success. Given the changes and workplace challenges in most organizations, coupled with the changing global needs and employment metrics, there is a need for companies to increase their employee retention levels. The high levels of expectations in terms of learning and adapting to various changes in the company will usually lead to a low retention rate in most modern firms (Younge & Marx, 2016; Ahammad, Tarba, Liu, & Glaister, 2016). However, with the implementation of the various leadership approaches and interventions outlined above, the organization, in spite of the prevailing workplace challenges, is able to improve on the levels of employee retention (Cloutier, Felusiak, Hill, & Pemberton-Jones, 2015; Younge & Marx, 2016).

Design and justification of a personal learning plan

Summary of the learning plan

Strategic approach to leadership and managementRead widely on the areas of concern.   Evaluate the current workplace on the readiness to adopt a strategic approach to leadership and management.  Reading and research material.   Cooperation from employees in conducting the necessary research and assessments.Test of fit into the Kirkpatrick evaluation model.
Leadership intervention measuresAssess the current and past challenges in the work environment to determine the appropriate leadership intervention measures to be applied.  Cooperation from employees in conducting the necessary research and assessments. 
Behaviourism in the workplaceConduct research on the influence of behaviourism in the work environment.Cooperation from employees in conducting the necessary research and assessments.   

Justification of the learning and development activities

The need to develop a personal learning plan stems from the requirement of continuous progress and assessment by managers (Tamkin, Yarnall, & Kerrin, 2014). Given the need to improve, therefore, a personal development plan is required to outline the various areas that need focus. In addition, the plan shows the necessary actions to achieve the required goals, as well as the resources and support needed to achieve such objectives. The learning plan requires the leader to outline the important areas that call for an improvement in learning. Once the key learning areas are listed, the necessary actions that lead to the achievement of the main goals are identified. A list of the necessary resources and support requirements for each learning objective is then compiled, before the assessment criterion are determined.

In this case, the personal objective of the manager, and therefore the objective of the personal development plan, is to create a set of learning requirements that develop personal learning as well as growth as a manager. To create the effectiveness of management, the learning requirements include the need to learn and develop a strategic approach towards the leadership and management of the organization. This is important owing to the need to develop strategic plans for the company, which is only applicable with the requisite information and experience. The actions for this objective include reading widely and evaluating the workplace to assess the strategic measures employed as well as the readiness to adopt to new strategic measures from the management.

A second learning requirement in this personal development plan is to improve on the leadership intervention measures used. In this case, the manager aims to learn the best approach to use given the current set up and challenges arising in the workplace. The required actions for this objective is to assess the challenges of the work environment in order to determine the appropriate approaches and intervention measures that apply to the given scenario. A key prerequisite for the successful implementation of this learning requirement is the cooperation from the members of staff since one needs to assess the challenges on the ground in order to have a better understanding of the applicable intervention measures.

A third requirement in this personal learning and development path is the understanding of the influence of behaviourism at the work place. This learning objective requires that the manager take action through conducting continuous research that should provide guidance on the impact of behaviourism in management on the organization. This objective also requires support in the form of cooperation from the members of staff since a lot of research is required to determine the influence of behaviourism in the workplace.

Measuring the effectiveness of the personal learning plan

Once the learning plan is rolled out, there is a central need to determine the effectiveness of the various approaches adopted. Given the various objectives adopted in the plan, there are individual measures applicable to each objective. However, there is also a need to indicate overall and generalized measures that help to determine the overall effectiveness of the development plan. Such measures comprise of measurable assessments such as the changes in the output and efficiency of the organization, specific measures such as the assessment of specific intervention measures such as the views of the employees after the mergers of the two firms. In addition, there will be a measure of time, where there will be evaluations on a periodic schedule for the next twelve months.


The development of learning and intervention approaches by management is critical to weathering the workplace challenges that rise consistently over time. As such, the review of several of these approaches and intervention methods is critical to the understanding of how to effectively manage people. The review of several of these approaches and intervention methods such as the Kirkpatrick approach, the Carousel of Development, and the Hamblin approach exposes their similar and variant views on the steps taken to handle issues within the work environment. In addition to such measures, continuous learning is important to developing the ability to effectively manage people and situations in the workplace. As such, the development of a personal learning plan is essential to the process of understanding and managing people.


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