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The Cost of (not) Training

April 30, 2011 4 comments

One thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.- Zig Ziglar

In a dynamically changing world where one has to be alert & learning all the time, a skill set gap can mean stagnation in terms of career path, monetary gains & opportunities too. While it is critical for the employers to invest in employee training to maintain efficiency, competence & competitive edge , It is equally of even more important for an employee to keep training themselvs.

Most often, an employer can find a better skilled replacement ( this has a cost, of course) instead of training existing employees. But, what does the bypassed employee do ?

Actually who pays the price if an employee is not trained enough for the job ?

  • Is the onus for training always on the employer only ?
  • And who should pay for training ?
  • who loses if an employee is not trained ?
  • Are we moving towards a employee initiated training scenario ?
  • How can we build a culture of continuous learning ?

Training Supervisors to Conduct Performance Appraisals

April 29, 2011 Comments off

One of the critical factors in a fair performance Appraisal is the ability of the Supervisor to assess his team members. In spite of all the tools & data available at their disposal, if the supervisors lack the ability to do a balanced objective assessment, the overall purpose of the exercise is defeated.

What can be some of the ways to train/coach supervisors to conduct proper assessments ?

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From the web-Feb 2011

March 6, 2011 Comments off

Teaching Vs Learning

October 27, 2010 1 comment

In last 2 days I had two instances when I remembered the now-famous movie 3 idiots ( a Hindi movie talking about/ questioning the current methods of education & teaching).

The first one was when i was interviewing a candidate for the position of research analyst-trainee. The candidate , an MBA in finance with statistics & economics as electives, from a reputed college, talked about economy & showcased his vocabulary full of Jargon. It was quite impressive.

Midway through, I asked him what he knew about inflation ?  He gave me a long explanation and finally concluded that higher inflation meant higher prices while lower inflation meant lower prices. He was absolutely sure that a lower inflation meant prices were going down. After a discussion that was going nowhere, i gave up. I tried again and asked him what was meant by real interest rate. I just wanted to understand if he was able to relate our earlier discussion with this. He took me on a tangent & talked about how compounding worked and how the real interest rate was nothing buy the effective yield. The candidate was extremely confident & probably was under the impression that confidence & common sense were interchangeable.

The second instance was an interview with a Economics graduate (pursuing Master’s in Economics). Excellent communication, great confidence  but almost nil practical knowledge. One of the panel members asked her why prices go up in general. she was shocked and mumbled that she had not brushed up her concepts before coming to the interview. My friend was gentle & tried to help her by suggesting if there was any relationship between demand, supply & prices. ” Of course there was. Prices went up when demand increases. err… i think it is the other way. oh i can’t remember. we studied this in our first year ” . I asked her to give up the remembering part & to just try to think logically. She said her macro-economics was weak . I finally had to ask her as to why she chose Economics as a stream. She said she could not get admitted in science stream and she was told that economics was next best.

These are not two isolated instances where such situations present themselves. This is not even related to career counselling or choice of subjects., it is more to do with ability to enquire and about logical thinking processes.

I wonder if we are growing a crop of graduates & post-graduates who study to pass exams only? They are not encouraged to ask or to think while studying. By the time they want to choose a career, their thinking capacity is dead.

Many of them end up in routine jobs where they are encouraged NOT to think & to just follow instructions.  Their colleges are happy that their placement season was successful. What will these people grow up to be ? what sort of children will they bring up ?

Am I trying to exaggerate and hype up the issue ? You just need to look around & see that the issue is much deep-rooted than what we imagine it to be.  We are becoming slaves to degrees.

Of course there are brilliant minds & there are excellent institutions but then, they are very few compared to the numerous others who churn out degree holders.

The big question then is,  Are our institutions & teachers focusing so much on teaching that they become a barrier to learning ?

The Importance of Induction

May 11, 2010 1 comment

Induction and what it should involve, is a much debated topic. There are enough articles available on how induction should happen, how long it should be and what all it should cover. I too had written earlier posts on welcoming employees

I have always felt that induction is not, cannot and should not be a stand alone process lasting a few days. What most organisations do in the name of induction is more of a quick download of what they do, who the people at the top are and what is expected of the new recruits. The vision is shown but not communicated.

Whenever my clients ask my to advice on the Induction process, I ask them to list down what they want to achieve from the exercise. The most common responses are cultural understanding, seamless welcome, communication of broad organisational goals, a buy in from the new employee and setting a stage for long term association. Many of the clients say that they want to create excitement and energy so that the employee feels that he made a great choice by joining.  Most ( especially sales organisations) are skeptical as to how many of the new employees will survive the first quarter. Some of them do an induction program only if they have a batch of employees joining and skip it if it is just one or two. a very large number of organisations do it centrally , which means many of the new recruits at other locations have just their team leader to induct them. As we can see, there are issues here.

Next, i ask them to list out their strategy to ensure that understanding, communication, energy etc will continue . That’s where we get into further trouble. Many organisations do not have a plan to continue this induction process and to ensure that the energy and the good feeling ( of having made the right choice) stays. A few days after induction, a common feeling across many joiners is – this is no different from other organisations.

Organisations spend time & money in recruiting resources. The number of man-days used and the technological resources applied can be more effectively employed if the same is coupled with a well-thought Induction program. For this to happen the primary need is to break away from induction, the way it is done and embrace a radically different approach. There is a need to look at induction as the beginning of an employee life cycle and has to continue all through the life-cycle in various forms & intensities.

It would not be wrong to say that induction is an ongoing process and if done well impacts the duration of stay of employees, the clarity that they have about their role, the productivity that they can achieve, the performance they can deliver and the passion with which they work & grow with the organisation. I would even go further and say that induction,employee retention, Training programs & performance management are very closely linked and intertwined.

In the forthcoming post, we will look at Innovative & Inclusive methods to make induction a productive exercise, which can even save costs in the long run.

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