Training – Then and Now

It is a perpetual cycle – you pay more, to get better training quality (?), with a tag attached. Professionals around the world carry a name, a prestige, and not easy to book their time.

We hear them at breakfast meetings which is hardly one hour talk for hefty fees. I remember we used to invite such ‘’scholars’’ not much for training; but for networking. They can bring you useful contacts.

I once attended a Talk by a renowned professor. He invited us on his yacht. There were 15 of us. The talk was hardly 20 minutes. You mingle with the participants – CEO, Business owners, Academics, etc. It is up to you to know them and explore the opportunity to benefit from knowing them.

Yes, I remember. We also attend ‘’retreat’’. You go out of the office environment for two to four days. I went to Sentosa Island (Singapore). You are locked in one large function room of a Hotel. There is of course, good concentration to what the professor says. And, being in-house program, you do not have to worry much for networking. Though I was surprised not to have known well few from my own enterprise.

Then, there are Assessment programs – usually named differently. They call it EQ or AQ, claiming that senior managers must have resilient powers. Again, outstation and locked in a room for the first session of the day. You are given few pages of questionnaire.

Once attended, there is a break of one hour. You get refreshed with tea/coffee and snacks. They use the time for assessing the participants.

The bell rings and you gather back in the room. It’s like examination result! They tell you who you are (you did not know yourself till that time!). The best part comes when %ages are played. Majority of the class lack in particular skills. To survive in the business world, you have to prepare them – they are your senior managers. So? Engage them for a Training program of one or two weeks.

In my early days, I have attended two or three days training, mostly in a public program in a city hotel. We were serious in learning then. We bring home valuable one or two techniques to benefit the organization. In the end, if you find the trainer/speaker appropriate to your organization, invite her/him for further training in-house. The purpose is more people from the organization can benefit and you have relevant topics discussed.

Who needs training? Is there a Need? If sales are not improving, send sales personnel for Sales training. Is it the person or, the product weakness?

Coaching for example, was considered as weakness of individual. Coaching was provided for improving the weakness. Today, providing coaching or a personal coach is a reputation – she/he is deemed for promotion and is being groomed for higher position. At home front, engaging a Fitness coach is now a fashion. We have a personal coach! At my Gym, I notice many coaches are busy telling stories or discussing current events, asking personal details (what time you go to sleep, where did you go this weekend). There are some who are really organized. They have written program for every session. Same is the case with education. If your child takes tuition in my early days, she/he is ashamed for being weak in studies. Now, it is a prestige to join popular Tuition class. I remember early days, there were teachers conducting classes with Video instructions to cope with the demand. Now-a-days, they make use of technology and have interactive videos. A teacher sitting in another town conducts video classes. They will physically see the students, may be once or twice in a month. Universities have adopted the same style – a foreign University professor visits once a month, for question-answers.

It used to be ‘’what’s good for participants’’. Now, changed to ‘’what’s in it for me’’. Training industry is not yet regulated!

I was using Slide rule in my college days. Now, all is computerized. You have to take tuition for mental calculations. Early days, entrepreneurs will not allow their children to use calculators. Use of Abacus is almost bygone era. I conduct Training for employees to teach them numbers – how to calculate without using calculator, how to do mental arithmetic. The course includes from simple arithmetic to probability. The Government authorities are concerned in Singapore for their citizens to remain employable. MNC make extensive use for local staff. This is popular with Retail and Fast food chain, as well.

I am not against Training by experts and use of technology. My only point is not to forget the fundamentals. Do not throw away the baby with the soap water!

Suresh Shah, Managing Director, Pathfinders Enterprise

2 responses to “Training – Then and Now”

  1. Shirish M Kamdar says:

    I agree with many of the points, but would like to add that the training must be based on the level of understanding of the people attending the training.

    The standard training programs for everyone will not benift!

  2. admin_1_user says:

    Thanks, Shirish. I agree that one size do not fit all. However, when you are training a group, you cannot deliver different programs (particularly so, at Public programs). How you do it – identify the need -> develop the curriculum -> deliver the training. Add examples and case studies for appropriate issues and participants. Sometimes, at beginning of the program, you may ask what do you expect to learn from this program. Use the summary for case studies or examples during the program. Encourage the participants to ask questions. Take care of diversity like gender, age-group, culture, language, …..Motivate them for active participation. Probe more – don’t let them keep quiet. If someone says something, ask the weaker participant, what do you think of it; or, do you have to say something on this?