Apple Inc. is a successful American company, which has been in existence since 1976 (Reuters, 2012, p. 1). Over a span of three decades, Apple Inc. has been able to establish itself as a force to reckon with in the electronics market. The company has received a lot of admiration (both locally and globally) after it was ranked by Fortune magazine as the most admirable company in America (in 2008), and the most admirable company globally (since 2009) (Reuters, 2012, p. 1).
Apple Inc has a global presence in 10 countries around the world and it runs 357 retail stores in these locations. Apple is engaged in the manufacture of hardware products such as Macintosh, portable music players, personal computers (PCs) and software, networking solutions, third party digital content and related software.
The company’s most notable products include Macintosh computers, ipods, ipads and the Apple TV. Apple’s online presence is also firm, especially with the existence of a virtual marketplace where the company sells digital content through App store, itunes, iBookstore among other online platforms (Reuters, 2012, p. 1).
This paper critically evaluates Apple Inc. to establish its trends in training and how such a critical component of the company’s existence can be improved. To accomplish this objective, this paper assesses existing training strategies and identifies the most appropriate training strategy for Apple Inc.
In addition, this paper evaluates the best ways the above strategy can be supported and implemented in the organization. Since employee performance is a critical component of Apple’s success, this paper also develops an outline of a learning, motivation, and performance improvement strategy for the company. To do this effectively, existing theories (associated with learning, motivation, and employee performance) will be evaluated.
Different companies adopt different training trends depending on their objectives, capabilities and organizational structures. However, existing training trends fall within the confines of a few training methodologies used by most companies today. A notable trend in training is the multimedia and online training method, which many virtual companies have adopted (Heathfield, 2010, p. 2).
However, like other training methodologies, the multimedia and online training methodology has different advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is the fact that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to manage. However, the multimedia and online training method has a high dropout rate (because it is often self-managed) and it has a high inability to develop an effective interface for the trainers and the trainees (Heathfield, 2010, p. 2).
Performance consulting is also another emerging trend, which is being quickly adopted by major companies across the globe as a credible training methodology. Few companies around the world are therefore adopting trainer-led and generic methodologies for improving their human capital because the focus is currently shifting towards providing a comprehensive and all-rounded review of human capital training.
Heathfield (2010) explains that, “Alternatives to training offered by progressive human resource departments include coaching, organizational development or planned change consultation and interventions, facilitated planning sessions and large group processes” (p. 3). Often, these types of training are highly programmed to incorporate the overall direction of the business and its goals.
However, for purposes of identifying the right training strategy for Apple Inc., it is vital to point out the performance management training methodology as an important training technique for the technological company.
The main advantage that Apple Inc. stands to benefit from this training methodology is the integration of the human capital development into the overall performance management system of the company (Heathfield, 2010, p. 2). This performance criterion eliminates the traditional practice of undertaking performance appraisals at least once a year.
The performance management methodology also provides increased opportunities for personal and professional development. Furthermore, this training methodology is superior to other training methodologies because it is holistic. It includes the input of peers, staff members and management. Employees are therefore able to receive constant feedback from the most important stakeholders in their journey to employee excellence. To explain this training methodology, Heathfield (2010) elaborates that,
“The performance management system also integrates a performance development plan for the individual. This plan assists the employee to continue to develop his skills and abilities. For these plans, preference is accorded to integrated corporate university courses and internally custom designed and presented training” (p. 3).
In 1995, the US government used the performance management technique to improve its regulations and to provide a sound management criterion for its employees. During the implementation process, it was observed that the new training methodology should not clash with existing government programs (U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2011).
Throughout the entire process, it was also observed that, communication within the organization improved, everybody understood the rules, and there was better recording of government programs (U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2011). These were commendable outcomes of the performance management process.
Support for Training Initiative
Support for the performance management program can be offered in several ways. However, most of the expectations for supporting the training program rest with the company’s management. Apple Inc. has had a good record of supporting productive employee initiatives and therefore, this understanding is expected to provide a good platform for future support initiatives.
However, the most important and open way that the company’s management can support the performance management training initiative is providing the required financial support for the program. Providing adequate financing will go a long way towards ensuring the entire training process is a success. In fact, the realization of commendable program outcomes rest with proper financing (U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2011).
Another area of support that the organization can adopt is opening up more opportunities for employee professional growth. These opportunities for growth can be manifested through promotions, wage or salary increases, increased responsibilities (and the likes). This window of support is vital for the survival of the program management technique because it would be fruitless for the employees to undergo a rigorous employee-training program without realizing its rewards.
Moreover, it is in the best interest of Apple Inc. to create more opportunities for employee growth (within the organization) because if they fail to do so, their trained employees may decide to pursue other growth opportunities in other companies. Providing the right support for the training program is therefore of utmost importance.
Outline for Learning, Motivation, and Performance Improvement
For purposes of developing an outline for learning, motivation and performance improvement for Apple Inc., we will rely on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs because it defines the need theories of motivation. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs stipulates that some form of deficiency (in the employees’ personal or professional lives) motivate employees to work harder (Koontz, 2006, p. 290).
Though other theories such as the scientific management approach emphasize on financial and other forms of material rewards as the main motivators for employees, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is more holistic and encompasses different aspects of employee lives. This is the main justification for the use of this theory.
Based on the above facts, it is important to outline the learning, motivation and performance improvement strategies on the five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (physiological needs, safety needs, love/belonging needs, self-esteem needs and self-actualization needs) (Koontz, 2006, p. 290).
In designing the training program, the five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs need to be highlighted in the program. It is also equally important for Apple’s management to realize at which point of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs do their target employees stand so that they identify the right motivations for the employees.
Once management has identified which level of need their employees are in, they can introduce a higher level of need to motivate the employees to attain a higher level of satisfaction. For instance, once Apple’s management has identified that their employees have satisfied the physiological level of need, they may introduce some elements of safety in the training program to motivate their employees to continue with the program. This outline is therefore set to ensure employees feel satisfied with the entire program
After weighing the findings of this study, it is important to note that, the performance management methodology is likely to improve Apple’s chances of developing highly effective employees. However, the realization of this goal depends on the financial and logistical support of management towards the program. Nonetheless, the program can significantly improve the odds of the technological giant to realize effective organizational success (at least with respect to its human capital).
Heathfield, S. (2010). Training Trends. Retrieved 27 January, 2012, from: http://humanresources.about.com/od/trainingtrends/a/training_trends.htm
Koontz, H. (2006). Essentials Of Management. London: Tata McGraw-Hill Education.
Reuters. (2012). Apple Inc. Retrieved 27 January, 2012, from: http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/companyProfile?symbol=AAPL.O
U.S. Office of Personnel Management. (2011). Performance Management. Retrieved 27 January, 2012, from: http://www.opm.gov/perform/overview.asp