Question 1:
One advantage of the virtual leadership development programme is the accessibility. The general managers, directors and high-level staff can access to “Leader Lounge” anytime and anywhere they want, as long as they have internet access.

Secondly, the interactive part of the programme, like “Problem Solver” for example, will make the users feel resonance, making the study results more effective and applicable. A typical three-days on-site leadership workshop may rest on the assumption that a certain style of skills of leadership is appropriate regardless of the company culture, strategy of CEO mandate (Gurdjian, Halbeisen, & Lane, 2014). In contrast, the virtual programme focuses on internal issues raised by fellow colleagues in the hotel industry, which is more relevant to the employees.

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Lastly, the programme is cost efficient. As mentioned in the article, it costs only 5 percent compared to a typical leadership workshop. Also, more than 70% of the lounge members use the programme, which is a decent figure. There is also a measure of effectiveness of the programme as surveys show that general managers’ engagement scores increased by 3%.

With regards to disadvantages, the programme is only accessible to general managers, directors and high-level staff, which means ground staff cannot improve themselves with the virtual progamme. Under “Room to Grow” initiative, it strives to improve connection between managers and senior management. However, ground staff are also part of the organization and should be involved too.
Secondly, there are approximately 30% of the staff who do not utilize the virtual programme. This means that the development of leadership skills of some staff may not be on par with their colleagues. They also cannot be accessed due to a lack of study results, which means there are still certain unidentified areas within the organization which may require improvement.

Lastly, the virtual programme is within the organization, resulting in a lack of diversity. The leadership materials uploaded may be altered in a way that fits in the organization values and culture. This will shape the employees’ thinking in a certain way, restricting the development of new ideas. Learning development is defined by individual competencies aligning with the company’s vision, with the target that organizational improvement (Beer, Finnström, ; Schrader, 2016).

Question 2:
Traditional development activities like the three-days on-site leadership workshop may be used in conjunction with the virtual programme to enhance effectiveness. This will lead compulsory attendance in which all management level staff will benefit from. Although it will increase the cost as compared to only having a virtual programme, it has benefits that a virtual programme cannot provide.

Firstly, the management staff can interact with other management staff to develop new leadership strategies. Face to face interaction during the workshop may bring out new ideas, and also allow real time interaction. A change of venue can provide a peaceful environment for the staff to increase learning effectiveness, and also a chance for the staff to connect with others in related fields to gain useful information and skills (Woodman, 2016).

Secondly, the organization may recruit an external trainer to provide professional insights regarding leadership skills, and also to access the results of the training. An external trainer is who is not familiar with the organization’s culture and operational style may observe the organization from a third party’s point of view, and contribute useful judgements into the areas for improvement within the organization (Woodman, 2016).

Lastly, an external trainer is competent and skilled in coaching. They may be able to use different means and approaches to disseminate information, as compared to the staff self-studying with the virtual programme, achieving better results.

Question 3:
As mentioned in the article, the evaluation of the virtual programme is done using surveys for hotel general managers. However, while they make up for 75% of the total users, there are still 25% of the users whose opinions are unknown. Nonetheless, survey as an assessment tool is quite an effective tool, depending on how the questions are phrased.

A more in depth method to analyze the effectiveness of virtual programme will be using the Kirkpatrick Model which was designed by Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick. This evaluation method involves 4 steps: Reaction, Learning, Behaviour and Results.
Level 1 (Reaction) will measure how the staff feel about the virtual programme. It can be done by doing surveys, questionnaires and feedback forms etc. Level 2 (Learning) will evaluate if the staff really understand the materials they have been reading. This can be done using interviews and assessments towards the staff using mock scenarios, to see if they have a better way of handling situations.
Level 3 (Behaviour) can be achieved through observations in the way the staff are dealing with leadership issues arising from work, to see if they are able to apply what they have learnt. The last level (Results) will then conclude if the virtual programme has a positive impact on the organization, like achieving key business targets etc.

Another metric that can be used is the SWOT analysis. The users may use the SWOT analysis to conclude if the virtual programme contributes to the organization’s core values. SWOT analysis is based on 4 points: Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats.
One way is to choose users from different departments and countries to assure that there is a diverse feedback, as different company of people will have completely contrasting outlook which will be important in making the SWOT analysis rewarding (Parsons, 2018).

After completing the SWOT analysis, it is about transforming it into a plan to improvise on the virtual programme. Firstly, review the strengths and evaluate how they can be used to improvise on the opportunities. Next, assess how the strengths can contest the weakness and threats, for the virtual programme to be even more effective towards the training needs (Parsons, 2018).

(963 words)
References:
Woodman, C. (2016, October 26). The Advantages of Outside Trainers for Employees. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-outside-trainers-employees-21939.htmlParsons, N. (2018, April 04). What Is a SWOT Analysis, and How to Do It Right (With Examples). Retrieved from https://www.liveplan.com/blog/what-is-a-swot-analysis-and-how-to-do-it-right-with-examples/Beer, M., Finnström, M., & Schrader, D. (2016, October 09). Why Leadership Training Fails-and What to Do About It. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/10/why-leadership-training-fails-and-what-to-do-about-it

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