Monthly Archives: May 2014

5 Reasons We Shouldn’t Bury Instructor Led Training (ILT) just yet

It has become a very popular hobby among L&D professionals to bash Instructor Led Training (ILT) at the profit of social learning, self paced learning or even individual coaching.

There is no doubt that new technology based forms of learning are great in the way that they allow learners to use new interfaces that sometimes fit their learning style and lifestyle  better. There is also no doubt that coaching is an extremely powerful, highly personalised development approach.However, this does not mean that our ancient ILT was never effective or “just doesn’t work for digital natives”(sic) or “goes against adult learning principles.”(sic)

When I read or hear this, I really wonder what kind of ILT people have been attending or have been facilitating. If done properly, ILT can be a very effective part of someone’s development.

1. ILT allow participants to share experiences with one another with someone to facilitate the exchange and help them debrief these experiences in order to identify learning points. They can also sometimes learn by listening someone else’s question, and subsequent discussion,that they had not thought of.

2. ILT allow participants to confront their perspective to others. Someone from the HR function might discuss empathy very differently than someone from Information Security and they will both build a better understanding of the business by being exposed to each others perspective.

3. Being exposed to different perspectives and mental models also builds can also be a good way to build acceptance of diversity of others but also assertiveness when debating with people with different opinions.

4. ILT are a great place to network. Participants often get a chance to meet colleagues they would never meet otherwise or meet peers from other organizations.

5. ILT can also be a good occasion for intact teams to step back from every day operations and spend time together developing skills that will enable the team to work better.

So, is ILT only way to develop new skills? No.

Are technology based learning systems useful? Yes.

Are other forms of development like coaching, group process facilitation and mentoring also useful? Yes.

The only thing I hope the L&D community moves away from is the either/or mentality. Effective development initiatives are the ones that understand how to blend different  methods in order to achieve real development.

Post by Guillaume Gevrey – Director & Principal Consultant C2C

The War For Talent Is Over And Talent Has Won

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The term “War for talent” was coined by McKinsey & Company in 1997. It referred to the competition companies were facing to recruit and retain talented employees. In his report ‘Predictions for 2014’, Josh Bersin rightly said that ‘the war for talent is over and talent has won’.

The war for talent might be over, but the need for technical and professional skills has never been higher. The rapid changes of our business environment, as well as the recent technological advances, have created an enormous demand for new and specialized skills. Recently I spoke to a Malaysian client in the Oil & Gas industry, who shared with me that the skills he needs in his organization, are not readily available in the market. An even bigger problem he said was the duration of the learning cycle. It can take almost 4 years for a young engineer to become an experienced contributor in his organization, and to grow them to leadership positions can take as long as 10 years. Unfortunately, he is not alone as many organizations are facing similar challenges.

The answer to these challenges is an integrated approach to talent learning and development. All the elements of talent management, including talent learning and development, need to work as one integrated system. No one learning and development intervention stands alone, they need to be stitched together to address the various talent challenges.

Talent development has always been closely linked with performance management. Looking at the range of performance management systems, one end of the scale can be defined as ‘pull’, using performance development techniques. The other end of the scale can be defined as ‘push’, using measurement techniques. Most companies are still managing for performance through performance measurement (Hay Group, 2006), often with very little added value to the overall performance and productivity of the organization.

Performance development is mainly done through learning events i.e. training. Research shows that learning events only have a short and limited impact on performance and productivity. However, when we implement contextualized learning solutions, for example when training is followed up with coaching, performance and productivity increase soars. Research is showing that performance development through contextualized learning solutions, is much more effective in helping people develop skills and competencies, and has the highest business impact (see figure 1: Continuous Learning Model by Bersin by Deloitte, 2013).

Continuous Learning by Bersin Deloitte

All this leads to one conclusion, in order for talent learning and development to be effective and add long-term value to your organization, you need to look at skills gaps today and into the future, and develop contextualized learning solutions to build a capability supply chain now.

 

Post by Vincent Bouw – Director & Principal Consultant C2C South East Asia

4 Steps to Creating A Culture of Customer Service in Organizations

Customer Service

With increasingly competitive and highly globalized businesses, your customers are faced with myriad choices when they buy a product or service. Assuming the product or service quality is the same amongst vendors, their loyalty and commitment to your brand can greatly be influenced by the quality of the service your personnel provide to them. Organizations with poor and inconsistent customer service quality are bound to create unsatisfied customers resulting to loss of business and tarnished image. Thus, in this article, we examine how an organization can develop a culture of service that can provide enduring impact to your customer loyalty.

Step 1: Develop a customer service mission statement. The mission statement translates the vision and core values of your organization with regard to how your customers are treated and valued by your management and personnel. Your customer service mission statement should be clear and should truly reflect your organizational commitment to make it happen. It should not be a mere lip service or some good sounding slogan devoid of implementation plans and resources.

The mission statement determines the intention and direction of culture of the organizational customer service culture. A misdirected mission statement would create confusing messages, inefficient systems and procedures and ill-equipped and non-empowered personnel to tackle the challenges and issues with customers. Get the mission statement right and you’ll get your customer service climate right. An example of a customer service mission statement is as follows:

Our organization aims to create a friendly, respectful, attentive, systematic and speedy response and resolution to our customer concerns [within a specified timeframe or metrics].

The above statement enumerates core values such as friendliness, respectfulness, attentiveness, being systematic and speed. The statement can include duration or metrics to meet at each customer service interaction. What is the customer service that you want your customers to experience in every interaction they have with your organization?

Step 2: Plan and implement a customer service climate within your organization. The climate is primarily driven by the core values of the mission statement. In order to develop the right climate, systems, procedures, tools and methodologies will have to be in place in complete harmony with each other resulting to the customer service promise you have made in words or capsulated in the service or purchase agreement. In delivering that promise, it will involve cross-function collaboration and cooperation in most instances. Without clear and understood systems, efficient tools, and defined roles and responsibilities within the customer service team and supporting teams from other departments, you can expect internal chaos and conflicts resulting to waiting and disgruntled customers, and of course, potential business loss.

Let us examine the first value in our sample mission statement. Friendliness. Whilst it comes naturally to some people, friendliness is hardly natural at all. Friendliness is achieved by teaching the customer service personnel to mindfully visualize the customers as an important part of the organization’s business. After all, without the customers, the business has no purpose whatsoever. The product or service must be of use to someone. Friendliness results from the use of proper words, greetings, questions, gestures, movements, eye contact, voice modulation intonation and pause that makes the interaction pleasant and with pleasure. Most of all, friendliness is a state of mind and a certainly an attitude – a decision. I can opt to be friendly or unfriendly today. A dissonance between words and actions will certainly create an unfriendly customer interaction. Hence, friendliness is achieved by following guidelines, steps, and tasks that bring out the right behavior and attitude towards a concern and towards a customer and through a mindful decision to do so.

Creating the right climate for customer service includes integrating to your organizational performance management philosophy an appropriate reward system encouraging a culture of customer service. There are many forms of incentives that can cultivate customer service commitment. This will require an understanding of the motivational factors of your personnel. Some would prefer recognition, time off, financial reward and combination of all three. Use them as you see fit.

Step 3: Equip your personnel with the right competencies. The mission statement and the customer service climate determine the right skills, knowledge and behavior/attitude your personnel must imbibe. According to your organizational talent development plan, identify and define the essential customer service competencies.  Let us examine the value Attentiveness from our sample mission statement. Attentiveness is the result of various communication skills at work. Such skills include active listening, proper questioning, summarizing, and explaining in a friendly and respectful manner.

Not to forget to mention is the delivery of systematic and speedy response or resolution to an issue. Being systematic comes from clear thinking and logical approach to issue at hand. Being speedy results from being systematic but this can also be highly influenced or controlled by business tools or systems in place such customer service management systems (CRMs), order tracking system (OTS), etc.   I have pointed out that business tools are essential in creating the right customer service climate in the preceding section.

Step 4: On-going monitoring of the entire customer service initiative. The mission statement should be regularly evaluated if indeed, it reflects the vision and core values of your organization; the climate needs to be constantly assessed by way of regular customer surveys, internal feedback system, external expert’s monitoring and auditing, and data collection and analysis to determine if the customer service metrics or key result areas (KRAs) or key performance indices (KPIs) are being met or exceeded.

A culture of customer service delivers tremendous benefits to your organization. Clarity in your mission statement provides the right direction to your personnel. Organized and systematic procedures, efficient tools and defined roles and responsibilities minimize conflicts and misunderstandings. A culture tends to reinforce itself by persistent push to understand what it is that makes an excellent customer interaction. Customers’ positive feedbacks energize the organization and contagiously draw more customers. Talent development plans based on business objectives and personnel development needs and goals utilize resources wisely resulting to highly motivated and ever ready customer service personnel. Customer service is not about the product or service. It is about how your organization views customers. They are people with needs and they come to you under their own circumstances. Their anger or impatience may not be really directed to you but rather to prior experience or personal issues. A positive culture of customer service allows your organization to see people as humans and not just individuals to fill your till.

In summary, customer service becomes a way of life within your organization. Such way of life is influenced by organizational mission statement, customer service climate and your commitment to identify, develop and reinforce the right customer service competencies. Remember: satisfied customers means business continuity and growth!

Post by Ramil Cueto – Director & Principal Consultant C2C China

Soft Skills: The “Hard” Skill Of Leadership

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Leaders do not compel people to follow; they inspire them to desire the same results as they do.

Corporate leaders need to know their business, their customers, and have the ability to execute a strategy effectively. In the current era of fast paced change, leaders not only need to stay current with the trends in the industry, but also have the ability to predict the future trends as well.

A recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, deployed over 600 employees working at manager levels and above, were asked to pick from a list of 14 leadership competencies, and the top three that emerged were:

  1. Building relationships
  2. Good communication
  3. Creating an environment of trust and respect

Building relationships is clearly important since at the heart of all businesses is people. The ability of relating to others is what helps in executing their strategy. Good relationships with employees, customers, and suppliers, can be the differentiator between great leaders and others.

Communication skill is often taken for granted, as most people believe that they are good at making presentations or speaking in public. Communication skill is not just one way information dissemination, it really is all about the ability to listen, and plan and act such that people know that they have been heard. Leaders often need to take some tough decisions. Often such decisions would be accepted, if there is proper explanation of why it is being taken.

The context of leadership has changed dramatically in recent times. In the current situation, customers are harder to find, even harder to retain; profit margins are lesser; employees are overworked and stressed. As a result, leaders need to handle themselves in this complex and challenging environment. This means leaders have to be highly self- aware, display high empathy, and be active listeners; to be able to effectively lead. These soft skills often collectively termed “Emotional Intelligence” are very important to a growing organization. Good communication skills, thus requires one to be a good listener and being able to articulate.

Creating an environment of trust and respect really has many things tied in. It leans a lot towards values – not just stated – but practiced. Being approachable and friendly is the starting point that helps breed trust and respect. Balancing tasks vs. results based on others’ feelings becomes important. Establishing values and living them become extremely important too. It is said that a leader’s actions are always amplified, thus walking the talk becomes very critical to the success of a leader. Creating an environment of trust and respect means a leader must actively demonstrate trust and respect in every interaction with employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders.

These soft skills would enable leaders walking their talk which is so critical to great leadership, that we could term these as “core” skills or “hard” skills of a leader.

Post by Sanjay Dugar – C2C Director & Principal Consultant