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In order to provide an outline for the training program to address the company's shortcomings, this article draws inspiration from Air Canada's current training program. The largest airline in Canada and one of the top ten largest businesses worldwide in the airline sector is Air Canada. The company's operations were expanded to new routes, which exposed it to new clients with diverse cultural traditions and values. The company must adapt its services to satisfy the needs of various client groups since providing culturally competent services is essential for the company's performance in the changing environment. The improvement of Air Canada personnel' cultural competency can be achieved through training. A needs assessment is necessary to validate the need for the training program and identify who to involve and why type of training is appropriate. The success of the exercise is dependent on trainees and other individuals involved in it, resources and the training methods.
Air Canada is the largest company in the Canadian airline industry. Founded in 1937 and headquartered in Montreal, Air Canada has been offering air transport services to passengers and cargo to over 180 destinations around the globe. In the global airline industry, Air Canada leads by fleet size. The airline has had several changes and expansions of its operations and service over the years. The company began as Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) but later changed its name to Air Canada in 1964. The airline was fully privatized in 1989. The company has also witnessed a significant growth in its financial performance.
In 2017, Air Canada launched new destinations which include Toronto to Mumbai, Berlin, Reykjavik, San Antonio, Memphis, and Savannah among other routes. In 2016, the company introduced 28 new routes including 15 new international routes. These changes demand additional employees to ensure the successful implementation of strategies to sustain the expansion. The company has employed more than 30,000 people in the various countries in which it operates. The well-equipped staff has enabled Air Canada to rise to be among the ten largest airlines globally. The differentiation of its services has also been a significant force behind its positive performance and expansion of its routes.
Education and training are crucial factors of change, innovation and improvements companies can utilize to boost its capabilities. Any upgrade of Air Canada’s services or introduction of new routes demands training to ensure that staff members have necessary competencies to delivery customer-centered services and achieve organizational goals. The airline has a training program for new employees to equip them with necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities for executing their duties. The first step of the training process is a phone interview and in-person interview (Air Canada, 017). A two-part training program follows.
The first part involves a comprehensive safety training exercise for six weeks and the second part is a six-week customer service training program. The safety training comprises of technical training for four weeks and service training for two weeks that equip flight attendants with skills and knowledge on how to guarantee the safety of passengers and crew members. The customer service excellence training introduces trainees to possible scenarios they may encounter during normal flights (Air Canada, 2017). Customer service theories are linked to real-world scenarios to enrich the knowledge of flight attendants.
Targeted Area of Training
The area of concern for this training program is cultural competence, which refers to the ability of an organization to demonstrate the ability to interact with people from different cultures. It is dependent on the knowledge of other cultural practices and concerns, attitudes due to cultural differences, and awareness of one’s own cultural standpoint. Globalization has increased the diversity of populations across the world and exposed businesses to customers with varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds (Dolan & Kawamura, 2015). Companies become successful in the diverse market through acknowledging the uniqueness of their customers and respecting their cultural features. Successful co-existence between organizations and its customers in the global market is dependent on the relationship and attitudes towards each other.
Air Canada needs to tailor its services to address the needs linked to their passengers’ cultural and religious beliefs. Cultural competence promotes inclusivity in the market, where every employee and consumer feels appreciated regardless of their racial, religious, or cultural affiliation (Dolan & Kawamura, 2015). Multinational corporations such as Air Canada usually experience high racial and cultural diversity in their staff and customers. Policies and knowledge among other factors promote the understanding of stakeholders about different cultural practices and beliefs in an organization. Education and training can help Air Canada to improve its cultural competency (Truss, Mankin & Kelliher, 2012). They enhance the understanding of flight attendants about the cultures of their existing and potential clients. Training equips the staff with knowledge on how to respond to different culturally-oriented scenarios.
Today’s business environment is dynamic and therefore, needs organizations to be sensitive and be able to adapt to constant changes in the market. Companies need to ensure that their employees have adequate skills and knowledge to tap new opportunities and overcome potential challenges. Needs analysis enables an organization to identify deficiencies, individuals who need training and the type of training that is necessary to address the deficiencies. Training is a performance improvement tool that is useful when employees cannot execute their duties effectively. The underperformance of employees is determined by comparing the actual and expected levels of performances.
The first step of needs analysis involves the identification and evaluation of a concern. The assessment of the concern determines whether it is important or not. For the case of Air Canada, the evaluation identifies the reasons why there is a need for training to enhance the cultural competence of flight attendants and the entire organization. Air Canada launched new routes in 2016 and 2017, increasing the size of its global market share and exposure to customers from different cultural backgrounds. Various countries have different cultural practices and beliefs. Launching routes to new countries introduce the staff to consumers with different and new perspectives. Therefore, training and education program is crucial for enhancing the ability of the company to respond to different cultural needs of passengers.
Cultural competence is crucial since it will enable Air Canada to streamline its services to suit the interests of customers in the new routes. It may improve the ability of the company to retain existing customers and attract new ones in the new routes whose cultural aspects are not incorporated in the current system of the company. Furthermore, the entry of Air Canada into the new market results in increasing cultural diversity of its staff. Incorporating cultural competency in the company’s operations enhances teamwork among staff members due to their enhanced morale and sense of belonging. This way, Air Canada will be in a position to maintain or improve the performance of its employees.
The third step of needs analysis is the consultation of stakeholders to obtain their opinion about the training and its impact on their interests in the company. Insights from stakeholders are valuable in formulating strategies for addressing the cultural aspect of customers. Every relevant stakeholder group affected by the introduction of the new routes should be included in the consultation process.
Data collection is the next step. This phase involves the collection of relevant information about the internal and external environment of the company. Data about the cultural practices and beliefs of customers are essential in designing a training program for addressing their needs. The organization also needs to inquire about how the customers expect to be treated. Air Canada should also collect information about how its competitors in the new routes handle their clients. Are their services cultural competent? The company should seek answers to this question to determine how culturally competent the services of its competitors are.
Information about skills and knowledge of the staff and the organizational culture is valuable. For the case of Air Canada, employees had necessary competencies to addressing the needs of its passengers before the expansion. However, they lack cultural awareness and knowledge about new customers in the new routes the company launched recently. It is also likely that policies of the company also do not fully accommodate the new customers. Both personal and organizational analyses are crucial to the success of the needs analysis since cultural competency is influenced by abilities of the staff and organizational factors.
Tools or methods relevant to needs assessment include questionnaires, review of the literature, consultations, interviews, records and study reports, and direct observations. The outcome of the assessment suggests that there is a need for training to enhance the awareness and knowledge of the staff about the new cultures. Training should be designed for flight attendants, their supervisors, and managers. This way, Air Canada will be well-equipped to manage the cultural differences of new customers.
Delivery Plans and Methods
Trainers should use a blend of methods to ensure that trainees reap maximum benefits from the exercise. Lecturing is a method that can be used to improve the knowledge and understanding of the new customers and their cultures. This method of training enables fleet attendants to acquire the ability to make culturally-informed decisions that do not violate views of passengers. Behavior modeling training (BMT) is also effective in developing the cultural competency of the trainees. BMT will use a model in addressing normal issues while the employees observe learn about appropriate behaviors, attitudes, and techniques. Behavior modeling training is founded on four principles of learning which includes observation, rehearsal, reinforcement, and transfer. These principles are effective because they show trainees what should be done and what should not be done based on the information acquired from the lectures. This method gives trainees the opportunity to practice new behaviors and attitudes in an environment affected by the new culture. Action learning can also be an effective method of training.
Tools to measure the effectiveness of the training include course evaluation, performance, behavior, and knowledge. Course evaluation involves obtaining feedback from training about their experience with the training program. A survey using questionnaires can collect information about the perspective of trainees. The performance of flight attendants, supervisors and managers can be evaluated to determine positive changes caused by the training. Improved performance in handling passengers indicates the effectiveness of the exercise.
A positive change in employees’ behaviors and attitudes is a significant indicator of the success of the training program. Feedbacks from the customer are crucial in evaluating the performance of flight managers. An improvement in the way employees execute their tasks shows that the training enhanced their knowledge of cultural practices and beliefs of customers. Before the start of the training, the trainer and trainees need to collectively formulate objectives they should achieve by the end of the program. The achievement of the objectives can be a useful tool for evaluating the effectiveness of the training.
The implementation of the training program involves the allocation of duties and resources. The human resource manager has the responsibility of evaluating the amount and type of resources needed to complete the exercise. The assessment should consider various activities of the training. The assignment of responsibilities to individuals to manage tasks should consider their expertise and experience. The success of the process is dependent on them. The HR manager develops a plan for implementing the training program with considerations of the resources and individuals involves.
Training is essential in enhancing the ability of a company to meet dynamic market demands. Needs analysis is essential in determining skills and knowledge deficiencies in the organization. The comparison of the existing performance and expected level of performance provides insights into knowledge and skill gaps. The launching of new routes by Air Canada exposed it to new cultures. However, its existing competencies cannot address the needs of the new customers effectively. Therefore, there is the need for cultural competency training. Training methods such as lectures, BMT, and action learning should be blended to enhance the effectiveness of the training. The HR manager has the responsibility assigning responsibilities, resource allocation, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the training.
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Air Canada (2017). Air Canada training process. Retrieved on 30 November 2017 from http://cabincrewhq.com/air-canada-training-process/
Dolan, S. L., & Kawamura, K. M. (2015). Cross cultural competence: A field guide for developing global leaders and managers. Bradford, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Truss, C., Mankin, D., & Kelliher, C. (2012). Strategic human resource management. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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