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This blog has been designed most for the benefits of my students. I am interested in spiritual intelligence because I believe it leads to happiness and resilience. If you want copies of my published research (conference papers or articles in journals), feel free to contact me.

Ridhwan (

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Friday, April 24, 2009

When does training work?

Over the last couple of days, I had a couple of calls from friends. A question that we were all concerned about: when is training effective?

Research in this area shows that the pre-training analysis and post-training assessment is crucial. In one case in the USA, 2 employees attended the same sales training. For one employee (lets call him Mr. A), this training was part of his development program. His manager discussed his lack of performance and they both agreed that attending a sales course would be important. After the sales training, Mr. A found it hard to apply what he had leant during the training. So the sales manager went on sales call with him and demonstrated some of the techniques. After a few weeks, Mr. A could apply what he had learnt and his performance increased substantially. The good thing was that the manager was able to calculate the cost (sending 1 person) and the reward (extra sales), which makes evaluating the effectiveness of training quantifiable.

A second employee - who attended exactly the same event - had a very different mindset. Lets call him Mr. B. The training was originally supposed to be for another employee but he could not make the training at the last minute. As the company had already paid for one person, Mr. B was told to attend. Unfortunately, this totally destroyed his special weekend that he had arranged. However great the trainer, Mr. B never got into the spirit of the training and never applied the concepts afterwards.

My greatest problem is to explain that training needs analysis (TNA) should be done by the trainer, not by the HR department. After the training (say after 3 months), the trainer should be allowed to meet the trainees and conduct a debriefing session. Maybe becuase of that, many organizations feel that their training dollars are being wasted. In most cases, they are right.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Understanding the training and development (T&D) industry in Malaysia

Here are my views on the T&D industry in Malaysia. There are a few big players and lots of small players who pretend to be big. Everybody I know seems to have their own company and flying solo although they pretend that they have lots of staff on the payroll. Whenever they have a project, they simply call their pals.

Training activities tend to focus on skills. Pretty everybody does the same thing but some try to sell the idea that they know something other trainers don't know. This is of course not true. Everybody pretty much knows the same thing.

Development activities tend to focus on developing knowledge. Lets say that you are a company and one of your key technical managers doesn't know anything about strategy. One solution is to hire somebody (like me) and go through a tailor made course so they develop useful knowledge for the company.

My approach is based on Action Learning. I get people to talk about what they experience at work and we talk about how they can do things differently. It's not "telling them" what to do but it is more about thinking about alternative solutions to try out.

The biggest area for growth in the T&D industry is probably going to be parents. Parents are spending a fortune to send their kids to universities and they end up being unemployed. Their lack of employability generally boils down to insufficient communication skills and insufficient problem solving skills. I have always dreamt of finding 10 rich parents so that I can coach their kinds through university.....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Developing Operational Excellence

Another training was held in Sungai Congkak on 12th April 2009. The participants included 21 executives and managers. The theme was "Developing Operational Excellence". The group divided into four smaller groups and focused on different operational issues of their choice (branding, market segmentation, matching jobs with skills and managing concurrent projects). The aim was to identify solutions and find ways to communicate these solutions upwards.

As usual, listing problems was easy but quite a lot of digging was necessary to identify possible root causes. An interesting thing happened: in small groups, the discussion was very focused and very specific. But in the group presentation, everything became vague and general. Moral of the story: presentations to the larger group is not always helpful. A few photos tell the story!

Another soft skills session