In this study of 815 military personnel, the purpose of this paper is to examine how perceived leader behaviors are related to trainee perceptions of leader training priorities and to trainee priority for training, and whether trainee motivation to transfer of training moderated the relationship between trainee perceptions and trainee priority for training.
Participants who were experienced job incumbents responded to a survey related to foreign language usage, training, and policy.
When leaders showed support for training through their actions, trainees were more likely to perceive their leaders as placing a higher priority on training. Leader behaviors predicted trainee priority to train, because trainees believed their leaders set a higher priority for training. The leader behaviors that were important for trainees’ priority to train were discretionary behaviors, not those leader behaviors mandated by the organization. Trainee perceptions of leader priority were more positively predictive of trainees’ priority to train for trainees with less motivation to transfer of training.
Supervisor support is an important predictor of training outcomes. The authors expand this literature by focussing on the signals that leaders send to their subordinates regarding training priority. Leaders who exhibited discretionary behaviors in support of training appeared to create an environment in which trainees placed greater importance on training. Organizations need to be aware that mandating training activities might not be as important as encouraging leaders to place value on discretionary activities.
This research used data collected during an organization-level needs assessment study sponsored by the Special Operations Forces Language Office (SOFLO), US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The research was conducted by SWA Consulting Inc. (SWA) as a subcontractor under prime contract N65236-08-D-6805.Throughout the paper, the terms study and research are used interchangeably. The usage of these words is not meant to imply that the investigation drew upon any particular source of funding within or outside of the organization. Furthermore, the views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the SOFLO, the USSOCOM, the US government, or SWA. Eric A. Surface was the project's principal investigator. The authors thank Jack Donnelly and Mark Roemer for their support of using SOFLO project data for research purposes and Reanna Harman, Sarah Bienkowski and Lauren Brandt for their work and support on the original project data collection.
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