Tuesday, September 23, 2008


It is not exactly a rosy picture at the moment if you are on the corporate front line - stocks are tumbling and unprecedented events are taking place.
The impact on training teams is immense. When tough times bite the first thing to go is the training budget and that is if the L and D team still has its job and they aren't cut as well.
Well - let's accept that it is not business as usual and do something positive. Our pleas for extra budget are probably going to fall on deaf ears - so what can we proactively do to ensure that skills needs are met and that those who remain in the business are motivated and engaged.
First up, have a look at government-funded training. Forget about those who have turned their noses up at it on the basis that their business is so specific and on such a high level that "we don't need the forms and paperwork that a traineeship entails". $4000 per person who completes a traineeship is a substantial boost to any organisation's learning and development budget.
So instead of sitting back and waiting for an internal budget that is not going to come for a while, investigate whether funded training would be viable for your business.
Besides providing participants with needed skills, you are also ensuring that they remain motivated as they are acquiring nationally recognised, fully portable qualifications.
It is clearly a win-win-win situation.
It is very frustrating watching organisations who do not take up this incredible opportunity to boost budgets, upskill employees and create a positive environment.
Without question the most common objections to traineeships are:
1. The paperwork and bureaucracy
2. The organisation has its own way of doing things that is not in line with the traineeship
3. Lack of senior management buy-in or resistance from management.
In answer to these challenges:
1. Yes there is paperwork - but so is there paperwork to take a bank loan. Efficient systems keep this to a minimum. When you have a slashed training budget, learn to shuffle a few papers.
2. National qualifications are designed so that each organisation can utilise them in their own way. Participants do need to demonstrate that they can apply skills in the workplace and each workplace's standard procedures are allowed for. In any event, is it not better to display skills in the workplace instead of just looking at the happy sheets after a training session??
3. Get your figures correct and put a strong case to management based on the benefits to the business. Talk in financial terms - show how much the government pays and what this money would be used for. Talk about the impact of what the traineeships will be to the business. For example, how a frontline management program will assist managers who have to break bad news to team members.
Other tips:
Start keeping records not of everything you do - but of the impact that this has had on the business. Results count now more than ever and the days of the happy sheets is over - do not be as concerned about whether people "enjoyed" the training or not. Rather document what did they do differently as a result of the training. If nothing has changed, why was the training done at all?
Agree to make some sacrifices to the budget - this makes you look like a team player and that you don't always fight the system. If your interventions have been prioritised by the impact they have on the business, you will know which programs can be cut.
Have a look at the article on the Management Consultancy International website on traineeships for more concrete information.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

2008 Transport Leadership Program Gains Further Momentum

It is wonderful to have yet another group of Transport Professionals participate in the Transport Leadership Program, which results in the qualification of the Diploma in Business (Frontline Management).

Some of the themes that participants will be learning about include
  • situational leadership
  • finance for non-financial managers
  • contemporary techniques for motivating team-members

We look forward to active discussion from delegates via this blog!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gary Hamel Learning Points

I attended an excellent seminar by Gary Hamel who is considered to be one of the top business thinkers in the world and currently visiting professor of strategic and international management at London Business School. He is also in the process of establishing the management innovation lab where he is aiming to create tomorrow’s best practices – see http://www.managementlab.org/

So what did I learn from Prof Hamel?

Some key pointers:

1. In order to create an organisation that can out-innovate anyone else, we need to re-look our current management structures and create management for the new century.

Can we even imagine the different forms of management that we are familiar with right now? Can we picture for example an organisation where we invite outsiders to co-develop strategies? Can we imagine an organisation where there are no titles or rank? Where we give employees the right to say ‘no’ to any order or request?

Well, these types of companies are starting to emerge. Have a look at HCL Technologies as an example of a world-class company where command and control as a model no longer exists; where bonuses are paid at the beginning of the year on a trust basis and where customers are told employees come first.

2. Why has management stayed the same for so long? If you brought managers back form 100 years ago, they would find many things that are almost the same. They would find things to be just as hierarchical and as many big leaders who appoint little leaders.

There is no question that these management practices ensured strong economic progress and organised people in an efficient way. But are we now prisoners of a paradigm trap where the management practices of old gurus are still embedded in organisations right now?

In order to be truly competitive we will need to radically re-invent management practices. We will need to re-visit the way we manage, the way we adopt business models and the way on which we provide service. Look at companies such Ryanair, Facebook, IKEA, I-tunes for examples of how innovative practices have led to great success.

We are now facing challenges as organisations that we have never had to face in the past. The pace of change has gone crazy and for the first time ever, each generation that is born is born into a whole new world. Industry has changed in the last 10 years more than it has in the last 100 years. An organisation like Coca Cola where the brand was thought to protect the organisation – now finds itself behind the ball when it comes to changes in the beverages industry.

Everything is moving at such an exponential rate with changes in social networking, communications bandwidth, pressures for ‘green’ and the amount of information in the world and how we access it. The companies who are resilient survive and those who are built to accommodate that kind of change are ahead of the pack.

We often seem to change only when there is a crisis. Oh – suddenly we wake up and put in new leadership to turn things around. But surely there must be a better way? Surely, we don’t have to wait until we reach the bottom of the trough to work out how to be a better organisation.

3. What can we do?

3.1. Don’t try to dismiss the evidence. Look at those who thought MP3 files would never be as good as CD’s. Don’t rationalise your way around the facts and the stats. Don’t think you know everything – have some humility. Don’t simply listen to people with a fixed mental model – get out and listen to those you don’t normally hear from. Don’t be afraid to do your own research. When Nokia decided to take on Motorola the top team went to the Rapangi district in Tokyo to see what was happening out there. They learnt to play by different rules. What wave can you surf when your competitors are not even paying attention?

3.2. Start with lots of ideas and experiment to find the real winners. You don’t get straight to a winner. The next big opportunity does not look like that at the start. If you visited Ebay’s offices 10 years ago, you would not have said that it would have the 30 billion dollar market value it has today.

3.3. Fully engage the talents of everyone – ensure that everyone brings their full potential to work. Sounds straightforward – and it is! You can buy global commodoties anywhere but you can’t buy the best people unless you have created the right environment.