Prioritizing Who for Formal Learning LO20518

Winfried Dressler (
Fri, 29 Jan 1999 13:00:23 +0100

Replying to LO20503 --

I have been asked a question on my contribution to this thread privately.
But I can imagine, that many of you may have similar concerns, so here is
the question and my reply for all of you:

>I'm in agreement that some prioritizing needs to occur, but I wonder
>what the effects of asking an employee to "justify his request" in
>terms of motivation, and curiosity might be.
>I can't figure out how someone can assess a person's curiosity or
>even motivation to make a decision that will appear fair if there are
>limited resources.

We need to distinguish two goals: 1.) task accomplishment and 2.)
personal growth. Off course, these two goals are connected - the effective
connection of the two seem to me to be one of the major tasks of
management at all.

In the case of task accomplishment the question of prioritising is shifted
to the question whom to give the responsibility for which task. Learning
in the course of task accomplishment is supported by the various kinds of
learning by doing and additional workshops. Such workshops often include a
few hours of formal teaching (for example on the use of new or improved
tools), but I never heard the quesition of prioritising in this context.
It should lead to some kind of team learning.

We are talking here of personal growth. I judge the question whom to allow
more or less personal growth, including the assessment of the individuals
potentials as a deadly one. The responsibility for personal growth is
fully on the individuals side. Growth is nothing, that an organisation can
give to the employees. Fortunately, it is also not a restricted resource.
Formal training may or may not support such growth as a tool. I agree to
formal training under three conditions (using the metaphor of a seed that
germinates and grows):

1.) the seed in the employee is ready to germinate

2.) the formal training is capable to support the germination

3.) I (the organisation) can offer tasks that allow the germ to grow to

All three conditions are awfully complex to evaluate. But dealing with
complexity is a speciality of humans and part of any personal growth. I
expect from a grown up manager that he is able to utilise reason and
intuition to assess these conditions in a given case. I think the
following saying is very wise: "A manager or organisation has that staff,
that he/it deserves."

Now I can try to answer your question: "I wonder what the effects of
asking an employee to "justify his request" in terms of motivation,
and curiosity might be." Here I refer to the first condition. If I
think, the employee is not ready, I would discuss with the employee
how to focus on his present work differently, or to give other tasks
etc, to bring him closer to his goal.
Secondly we will discuss whether the proposed training is capable to
provide him with what he is trying to achieve. I need to find out,
whether the employee is able to visualise the evolving (enfolding)
future. (When I say "discuss" I mean dialogue.)

It is the third condition, which is the most difficult one. Here the
individual visions need to be aligned to a shared vision - a shared
vision, that still is never fixed but flowing. In fact, it is growing
with the growing of the employees.

I am aware, that what I discribe does not make any sense in an
environment, where an organisation is perceived as a machine. In this
metaphor humans need to be manipulated to function as gear wheels.
Eventually one arrive at the conclusion, that there is never enough
resources/budget available to compensate for the manipulation, that
has a chance to be fair for all. No however objective and scientific
evaluation procedure will be able to overcome the emotional barrier
and be more than just protective rationalisation for those serving the

I admit that there is a market for such "practical" procedures, but I
am not willing to participate in that market as long as I have a

Liebe Guresse,



"Winfried Dressler" <>

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