By Marguerite Foxon, Rita C. Richey, Robert C. Roberts and Timothy W. Spannaus (ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology, Syracuse University, $27.95)
The International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI) presents its updated 3rd edition. As expected it is strong, clear and logically constructed. But what I found fascinating weren't really the competencies, or even the way they're defined. What's interesting is the way in which the updated competencies reflect the rapid evolution of the training manager's role over the past 20 years. In themselves they reveal the forces—such as technology and globalization—driving that change. For example: The book's first edition, from 1978, describes a training manager busy with needs analysis, course delivery and overseeing the training function. This newest edition shows the evolved manager maintaining networks, complying with ethical standards and developing strategic plans. And since 1978, the competency which calls for improving professional knowledge has climbed from last place to fourth.
I have always been concerned about the danger of over-sciencing with competencies, leaving the art of training and management behind. But I do accept that, if we are ever to see training/HRD take its place as a discipline rather than a job, we must identify and apply standards of professional practice. This book provides a sound, carefully considered template to help us get there. In keeping with the need for some sort of standardization, there's also a good discussion of the pros and cons of certification.
Training Manager Competencies is particularly useful for four groups: training managers, to benchmark their own knowledge and skill; organizational decision makers, who can use it as a source of guidance and direction, particularly in recruitment; the academic community, in crafting curricula for preparing training managers; and professional associations and consultants who provide professional development for training managers.
While perhaps somewhat dry and technical for the average bear (let me reframe that: the chapter on validation of results makes for great bedtime reading ... ), the book is certainly a worthy contribution to the existing training and performance knowledge base. —Jane Bozarth