Tag archives: training

We don’t “train”. We help shape the company culture to drive business results. Continuously.

When we started this business 8 years ago, we called the organization a training company. We sold training solutions. We went through the HR team. Now we don’t want to call what we do training.

It doesn’t happen in 1,2 or even 5 days. It’s more than that. It’s an integrated approach. It’s engaging the hearts of the people to make them want to come to work. It’s also engaging them to use processes for continuous improvement. It’s about driving the front line that add value. It’s looking beyond the balance sheet/profit and loss to the organization’s psychological capital.It’s about coaching people to help drive performance because they want to NOT because they are told to.

We now work with Competitive Dynamics International to help make organizations world class and great places to work – where the employees wake up and want to go to work.

Some of the questions to assess your organization include the following:-
1. Do you have a 98% on time attendance for your team?
2. Does every one of your employees contribute one innovation per person per month?
3. Does everyone in the organization clearly know their role and why it is important to the organisation/society as a whole or do they just come to work for the pay check?
4. Does everyone measure and manage their team’s performance in terms of Quality, Speed and Cost?

Most of our clients start off answering no to most of the above. We work to engage the whole organization to help everyone say yes to these questions. The time take ranges from 3 months to 12 months.

So we don’t call it training. It’s changing culture. It’s making organisations world class and great places to work. It’s our reason to go to work.

Lessons from a half

One of my goals last year was to complete a half marathon. Yes, that’s 21 kilometers. Last year, I trained and actually did up to 15 km prior to the race so I knew that I would be able to complete it. I trained during the fasting month of Ramadhan and undertook a gym routine to prevent injury.

It taught me many things.

1. Preparation and Planning. Yeah, sounds a bit like every other motivational story. What I did learn was that you can plan all you want but you need a contingency in case things go wrong. If you oversleep, when do you fit in your training session? If you have to train early in the morning, make sure you have a cold shower, or you will sweat into your work  clothes 2 hours later.

Application – The poet Burns did say “The best laid plans of men and mice gang aft agley (or screw up)”. Have a contingency in case – you never know just when you need it. When I handled events for Johnson & Johnson, we made sure we had a doctor on hand in case of anything. Over preparation never hurts. This is something that we constantly practice, from backup projectors to online backups of key documents. This may only come in useful once every 100 times but that’s when you are thankful for it.

2. Learn from your mistakes. Earlier in that year, I signed up for the Great Eastern Life 20km and fell flat (literally) from cramps at the 19km mark. Cramps were caused by dehydration and lack of fuel for the body. I learned to make sure I carbo loaded (eat more pasta and rice – woohoo) and kept some nutritional bars during the run to keep my muscles from cramping during the race.

Application – When mistakes are made in this office, we don’t shout or scream. It’s a change of mindset but what we do is look and analyze how the mistake occurred and take steps to prevent it from recurring.

3. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance when necessary. I was really nervous about running the half marathon this year. Doubling the number of kids (from 1 to 2) and moving into a new office (the list of excuses goes on) took a toll on my running. I was scared about running in this years half marathon and posted it on facebook. My friends not only gave me words of encouragement but I also received the P-stim treatment to increase blood circulation as well as patches to open up my meridians. Seeking assistance from the right people is key for most business people to grow their business.

Application – When we first moved into the office, we had a corporate space for rent (our meeting/training/brainstorming room). I sought advice from Chef Lee on how to run the F&B as well as some of my friends in the hotel industry. We have now partnered with Whitespace who also manage the sale and booking of this space. They are the experts in smart business sense and have given great tips on how to manage office space.

These lessons from running a half marathon will help you grow your business/department/or may help you achieve your goals.

Getting the most out of your training provider

Here’s a few tips on how to get the most out of your training provider.

1. Determine your objectives from a company point of view. What does the company hope to acheive with the training? This will help you plan out the training for the year. Eg. If you are looking at a turnaround plan for your team you would probably need 9 days of focused training and not a one day program. List down 3 key objectives of the training.

2. Look at your training providers list of clients. Call up their references. Are the clients from a single group or are they from a diverse group of companies? If the client base cuts across industries and size of companies, this means that the training provider is able to tailor their material according to it’s clients.

3. Look at the trainer. Do they have real life working experience relevant to the training? E.g has the negotiations trainer conducted high level negotiations between companies? Has he/she achieved positive results?

4. Look at the training methodology used. The lecture style is very tired and will induce sleepiness! How much of the training is focused on interactivity and implementation of the theory vs just the theory. For example our negotiation courses are 20 percent theory and 80 percent activity/role-play and de-brief.

By using these methods you will be able to work more effectively and efficiently with your training provider.

Return on Investment for Training (measurable profits)

Measurement of training is a common issue faced by most HR/Training managers. How much do you get for your training investment? Does your return justify the investment?

Kirkpatrick came up with 4 levels of evaluation.

Levels 1 and 2 are skills and knowledge. That can be measured by a pre and post training evaluation. Normally the pre and post results will almost always show a marked improvement, from around 20-30% in the pre to 80-90% in the post training evaluation.

Level 3 is behavioral change. The person’s behaviour has changed due to the training. The person who is most often tasked with this is the direct supervisor.

The “holy grail” of training is level 4, return on investment training. This has to be done over a long term period, not a 1 or 2 day training session. How has the training impacted the business and resulted in direct returns for the company.

Case Study – Hotel Industry

The hotel was an established but old hotel in a suburban area. It faced new competition and old competitors which had done a refurbishment. The unique selling proposition had to be the service as well as the quality of the traditional Malay food. The business development team was diverse, with people ranging from their early 20s to 40s from Malaysia, China and Sri Lanka.

The task – Motivate the business development resulting in increased turnover and profit.

We designed a 9 day training program for the team as follows:-

1. 2 day Strategic Planning Session where the team looked at all the issues and challenges facing the team. Each of them were tasked to look at various issues

  1. Interdepartmental communication
  2. Mindset towards product and
  3. Price sensitivity
  4. Process issues

2. 1 day presentation of their findings and recommendations on the above. The presentations were honed and they were introduced to cause and effect diagrams. They studied and applied the learning to real life issues.

3. 1 day training on marketing and sales strategies for Project Mooncake where the team would now focus on selling mooncakes. The team was taken on a field trip to the supermarket with over 20 brands of mooncake and to the premium hotel which sold over 6,500 boxes last year. By comparison, the business development team sold around 100 boxes of mooncake in the previous year. This was also to be used as part of getting back old businesses.

4. 1 day presentation on the action plan of Project Mooncake. Teams were graded on innovation (12.5%) and implementability (12.5%) during their presentations. The balance (75%) was for net profitability on the mooncake sales. The team which won was given a score of 22/25 with the lowest team achieving a score of 7/25. Prior to that they had a speaker on marketing who taught them on the 4Ps of marketing as well as online and viral marketing. The winner was a proposal to work with a bookshop to sell mooncakes with a chef demonstration.

Project result – Sales of 330 boxes of mooncakes vs 100 boxes a year ago. 100% agreement from the business development team that 5000 boxes will be the target for next year. Sales halted at 330 boxes due to the stock selling out.

5. 1 day training on innovation and creative thinking. The guest speaker was a senior GM at Maxis, Mr Lai Shu Wei on a creative and innovative marketing for caller ringtones for Maxis. The team was taken on a field trip to Sapura Auto to look at the innovations by BMW and Sapura Auto. Some innovations included Fast Lane service, where servicing is done in 90 minutes or less and the customer is shown new BMW models during this time (repurchase). The service center on top of the showroom was also another innovation to show cleanliness as well as inviting both journalists and doctors to dine in the workshop. Some lessons which were applicable to the hotel industry included the tools and processes used by BMW which could be applied to the kitchen. Participants were left behind at Sapura Auto without their wallets or mobile phones and told to return to the suburban hotel. The winning team received “buka puasa” at another hotel. There was also a mid way feedback session for the participants.

6. 1 day training on sales skills. Participants conducted role plays on selling and were exposed to the selling triangle. They had earlier worked on innovation and breakthrough performance focusing on the process, product focus and customer focus. They went through a refresher on this triumvirate. Their next assignment was application of sales, marketing and innovation to a project on outside catering.

7. 1 day presentation on outdoor catering project. Each team was given a target of RM250,000. Each team presented the cost-benefit analysis of their proposal together with application of the 4P’s of outdoor catering.

8. 1 day course on application of innovation and creativity. Participants looked at a wedding boutique and came back and gave their findings. They also applied the process of instilling creativity and innovation in their department/team.

9. 1/2 day recap of the whole course and how the training had aided each member of the team. Key learnings included innovation, marketing/sales, financial responsibility and customer focus. Team also went through communication exercises as well an exercise on recycling.

10. 1/2 day finale. The team were given a real life sales assignment serving in the hotel. This assignment was designed to allow application of :

i. teamwork with other departments (including operations)

ii. innovation and creativity (how to create an innovative and relevant product)

iii. marketing strategy (how to market your product)

Participants were judged on their innovation (25%) and their net profit for the assignment.

In summary, achieving return on investment training is possible with the following in place:-

1. Structured training over an extended period. It would be difficult to achieve such results over a one day training session.

2. Application of theory to real life assignments. As the participants were working on a real life assignment, they were focused and could see the impact of the training immediately.

3. Support from the management. This is essential as you will need to use the tasks with management to help achieve the desired results. Regular meetings between the consultants and line management helped make this project a success.

With these key factors in place, we were able to achieve a return on investment of over 5 times.

How to manage training in an organization

Most corporate training is conducted in the following manner.
1) Ad hoc
2) In a separate silo to work requirements
3) Conducted without follow up coaching

Companies then decide to push the management to make sure that the training achieves level 3 (behavioural changes) and that training achieves ROI (return on investment). At the end of the day, very few, if any, programs will be able to achieve behavioural changes within a 2 day period. Often, training programs are just conducted to fulfil a quota – e.g. 10 learning days per annum.

What training should be is:-
1) Issue driven
2) Planned in accordance with the department KPIs
3) Planned over the medium to long term
4) Interactive, tailored and engaging!

Issue driven training looks at specific issues the company faces and then tailors training to address those issues. Training could also be linked to a benchmark, e.g. sales or the customer service index. This would require the training to take place over a period of 6 months with coaching and process support.

Adult learners have a short concentration span. As such, training program should have short theory sessions with a focus on interactive role plays, i.e. implementation of the learning.

By ensuring training follows the four criteria above, training is far more likely to achieve the desired result.

Motivation training

One of the most common perceptions is that people can attend a motivation class and suddenly get motivated when they go back to the office. As a corporate training provider, we don’t provide courses on motivation. Motivation should be one of the outcomes of a well conducted corporate training course.

Some of my clients have commented that when they send their team for a motivation course, this effect will normally only last 1 month or so. After this period the same issues resurface. This is due to the fact that the processes and structures that caused the team to lose motivation still remain.

For a training session to be successful and motivate the team, you need to make sure that
1) any issues with the organization can be dealt with during the training and
2) the management is willing to listen with an open mind to any constructive criticism.
3) the leader takes responsibility for implementing any changes suggested by the team.

If this is done, then you can look at achieving better return on investment for your “motivation” training sessions.