The Need For Soft Skills Training in India

The Need For Soft Skills Training in India Having lived in three different parts of the world over a span of three decades now, I’ve heard the familiar notion – “Indian students are smart” or “Indian employees are hard working.” That’s always a great feeling if you just happen to be Indian! And its true too; Indian students are smart. And Indian employees are hard-working; maybe even a little too hard-working in my opinion. It is no surprise then that these individuals thrive in foreign countries and companies. But the Indian employee is not free of his troubles; he is woefully lacking one thing that businesses today deeply require –Behavioral skills training.

From the time the average Indian gets into higher levels of school, there is an intense focus on academic excellence. But despite this there is still a gap in the area of ‘soft skills’ that the Indian is not prepared for. But what are soft skills? Recruitment firms and companies that have hired Indians have said that while the Indians tend to be incredibly smart and qualified people, their rudimentary skills such as social, relational or behavioral skills are often badly lacking. Some of this can certainly be attributed to a culture where there is subservience to authority and blind obedience is preferred over independent thinking. This often leaves the average Indian in a rather awkward state of affairs despite being exceptionally qualified to be in the game. Indians often find themselves ill equipped in the areas of email/phone etiquette especially when interacting with their fellow colleagues and peers. This leaves a lot of frustration for company bosses who would simply like to hire a qualified candidate and get the job going instead of spending more money and time on training the employee on his workplace ethics and manners.

Indian educators have realized this and are now in the process of setting up special institutes called ‘finishing schools’ that help equip graduates with the rudimentary skills required to function effectively in the workplace. The ISIL (Indian School of Integrated Learning) and British firm, Speak First, are currently partnering in a joint venture as part of a two million dollar project to setup finishing schools in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore for the very purpose of further training potential employees on different types of soft skills.

Soft Skill Training programs are being setup all around the country to help equip the growing demographic of Indians to be better suited with the right skills to succeed in the workplace. For more information on how companies do this, please refer to the following link:

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2010-11-25/news/27580406_1_soft-skills-private-sector-skill-gap

The Importance of Training the Trainer

Shortly after I joined my new job as a Quality Control supervisor, I found myself in the unflattering and precarious position of having to train the person (lets call him C) who had been the trainer for the last 3 years. Until then C ruled the department with absolute totalitarianism and he always had the last word. It so happened that my boss who hired me thought I had a better eye for detail and placed me in charge of making decisions that once was C’s to make. The interesting chain of command in the department also created a situation where C, who was in charge of production, was now subject to my discretionary judgment as the head of quality control! Moreover I had to train the trainer on how to run production to meet my standards. Needless to say this did not go well with him! The Importance of Training the Trainer

Sometimes as a trainer one can come to the conclusion, and rightly so, that his or her skills are good enough that it qualifies them to pass on their accumulated wisdom to the next in line being trained. But the key component here is not so much the actuality of the fact but the attitude of the heart. Can one become such an expert that they are beyond learning? Are they so good at what they do that they should not be teachable enough to be taught anything new? Is their accumulated skill so superior that they cannot humble themselves to accumulate some more? Being a trainer requires first the attitude of a perpetual student – always seeking to know more, learn more, improve and excel. It entails at the outset, the need to constantly keep refining, honing or sharpening one’s skills, constantly looking to adapt and minimize flaws in methodology along the way.

Companies around the world have used Train the Trainer  programs for some time now. Their main goal is to continue to invest in the improving or enhancing of their trainers to better equip them for a diverse range of training scenarios. For more information on how companies do this refer to this article:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2014/02/04/the-recovery-arrives-corporate-training-spend-skyrockets/

 

Soft Skills Training Modules – Our Contribution to Trainers

We at MMM Training Solutions made a conscious decision to sell soft skills training materials in order to help trainers enhance their careers. All our modules are experiential and contain a minimum of six activities, games, role-plays or business case studies, as the topic demands. We permit our logo to be removed and our material to be edited. We also do not insist on a per candidate payment, for the use of our training material. Once you buy it from us, you can use it for a lifetime without any renewal charges. The material then can be modified by you, to create your own customized soft skills training curriculum proposal. How much better does it get?

Soft Skills Training Modules – Our Contribution to Trainers

This whole idea of selling training material was conceived from the overwhelming number of calls we received from trainers conducting soft skill training in Chennai and elsewhere, asking for help in the creation of training material.

“Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese axiom

The format of our training material is very simple yet powerful. We also sell various soft skills training modules that include role-plays, business case studies, and training games, individually, and cover an exhaustive list of soft skills. So as the trainer gets comfortable with creating his/her own training material, these training objects will come in handy in creating soft skills training curriculum proposals. This provides the assistance in second level of development of the capabilities of a soft skill trainer.

The numerous emails that we get from corporate trainers in Chennai and across the country that use our training materials are a testament to the impact that it has.

Recently I read an article in Business Insider paper that further authenticated the decision that we made. According to this article Patrick McConlogue, a 23-year old Manhattan-based programmer one day offers two options to Leo, a homeless man he sees on his way to work each day. The first option being, giving him $100 in cash the next day.And the second option, giving 3 Java script books along with a super cheap basic laptop the next day. If Leo chooses the second option, Patrick would offer to spend one-hour every week day teaching him to code.

Leo chose the second option and as per the article, for the last 4 weeks he has been learning from Patrick to code. They already are working on creating a new app related to Leo’s interest in global warming and climate change. Leo says he is happy Patrick gave him the second option because he is now able to do something about global warming and climate change that is close to his heart.

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” – Napoleon Hill

Why Prioritization is not Prioritized when Managing Time?

Time Management and Prioritization are often topics of discussion in Performance Management and initiatives that are focused on enhancing productivity. But often productivity is unaffected.

Let us start with examining our process of doing To-Do Lists, Activity Logs and other time management tools. We start the day with listing out all the tasks that need to be handled during the day and keep some room to add new tasks that evolve as the day goes on. The focus is on completing as many tasks as possible.

Some people then have a process of prioritization that helps them to determine the order of the tasks. The parameters used vary for each person. However, the prioritized list of tasks does not seem to increase efficiency in people.

David Rock, in his book ‘Your Brain at Work’, has mentioned latest research on brain science that has finally revealed the answer to this conundrum.

 

David Rock states that in effective time management, there are 3 steps:

  1. Creating the list of tasks
  2. Putting them into buckets of Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 based on the complexity of the task
  3. Understanding ones energy levels during the day and performing the level of task based on the complexity

The last step is often overlooked. The Level 3 tasks often require the highest concentration and should be conducted when energy levels are high. This is because the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) of our brain handles the complex tasks and requires a lot of physical energy to do the processing. Level 1 are routine tasks, which have been done before and are stored in our brain and just needs to be recalled. This requires the lowest energy. Hence, Level 1 should be done at times when our energy is at a low.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Steven Covey

When we do not plan our tasks based on these principles, we tend to do the Level 1 tasks as we are able to complete it without too much effort and we are rewarded as we experience instant gratification. Planning our day using all 3 steps of time management gives you the highest likelihood of increased efficiency.

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” – Steven Covey

Make the decision to prioritize your tasks based on both the complexity of your task as well as the energy levels needed to handle the task. More importantly, make the decision to follow what you have decided. This will take you a significantly higher level of functioning.

The Time Management Training conducted by MMM Training Solutions has been repetitively described as ‘life changing’ because it is based on the principles of brain science.

 

Top 5 Most Important Soft Skills Training for Companies

Top 5 Most Important Soft Skills Training for Companies
In an ideal world, every identified soft skills training need for companies, ought to be given equal priority. But with increasingly lean budgets allocated for training due to the economic challenges, a far cry from what the yester years offered, organizations across industries, barring few, are trying to bring down the number of soft skills training programs to be conducted in the coming financial year.

While, bringing down the number of programs may help cutting costs, leaving out key soft skills & behavioral training programs from the training calendar can be defeating the whole purpose of employee development. (To learn more about creating an effective training calendar please visit: STRATEGIES FOR CREATING AN EFFECTIVE TRAINING CALENDAR)

So, what are the top 5 Behavioural / Soft Skills Training Programs for corporate employees?

If you look at each training need objectively, it would be a near impossible task to pick the top 5. Having a broader perspective helps. Ask yourself what are those key behavioral skills that go a long way in ensuring employee productivity? My list is as follows (not necessarily in the order of priority)

Communication is a complex activity. Communication is considered effective only if the receiver comprehends the message in the way it was intended by the sender. The effectiveness of communication depends on usage of words, body language, tone of voice, sender’s and receiver’s perception of the topic of communication and the communication history between the sender and receiver. To address these complexities in communication and to ensure all employees work in cohesion towards achieving organizational objectives it is imperative that Communication Skills Training is part of your training calendar.

Most organizations have highly skilled employees and yet the desired business results are seldom achieved. The reason for this is that, these skilled employees either prefer working in silos or find it difficult to align personal goals to common goals of the team. Interpersonal effectiveness, ability to resolve conflict, ability to challenge and inspire fellow team members are few of the benefits of Team Building Training. In a nutshell, team building programs ensures synergy in team and propels them to achieve more.

Today’s business scenario has become extremely competitive. From an individual’s perspective, it is important that he or she has the necessary skill to present an idea or a plan effectively. This can help progress one’s career. Leaders with better presentation skill seem to enjoy more success and better followership. From an organization’s perspective, it is a known fact that, more often than not, it is not the superior product that sells but a superior presentation. That is the reason why many organizations across the globe spend huge amounts of money on Presentations Skills Training.

A team without a leader is like an army without a general. You are sure to expect chaos in such a situation. But even with Leaders on board, the changing times and the dynamic business climate necessitates Leaders to evolve. Also, Leadership Skill is not a skill limited to managers alone. Even individual contributors need to undergo Leadership Training program to develop the ability to influence stake holders.

Time is a valuable resource. We all acknowledge and know that time is money. Therefore, effective use of time results in higher employee productivity and business profits. Regular Time Management Training interventions to reinforce time management skills ensures employees remain productive.

Chances are, most of your employees have already undergone programs on these skill sets in the previous years. However, these are skills that can never be mastered with a one-time training. If these soft skills training programs are conducted on a yearly basis by effective soft skills trainers, the organization is bound to benefit exponentially.

Intuitive Selling: The Secret behind Sales Success

Intuitive selling: The Secret behind Sales SuccessToo many organizations spend millions on sales training programs that does not give the desired outcome. When sales training does not meet the end objectives, the organization fixes the blame on the quality of trainer and the trainer fixes the blame on the quality of delegates who were trained. An honest introspection will bring both parties to concede that the training program’s failure was the result of poor choice of content.

In my early days as a sales professional I went about trying every, so called, tricks of the trade that the sales gurus suggested for sales success. Very soon I realized sales success does not depend on sales gimmicks. All it did was to project myself as someone who was desperate for a sale.

Sadly many sales training workshops are like the thousands of ‘selling skill’ books in the market. These are rich with anecdotes and inspirational quotes but rarely tells you the secret behind sales success. In fact I have come across hundreds of books with the title “The Art of Selling….” If selling is an art, is it practical to train sales people in a day or two and expect them to produce results? Then there are books that are titled “The science behind sales…” If selling were just science or just skill, wouldn’t the most experienced sales people automatically be the most successful ones? But we all know such claims are far from the truth.

To begin with the components and structure of sales training modules cannot be the same for B2B sales, B2C sales, channel sales and retail sales. The truth about selling is to believe and accept that the situation presented by every customer is unique. How you get to the essence of the situation, which is unique, can be a skill learnt. However, how you provide solutions for the unique situation that is presented, may be an art. Therefore sales success simply depends on the ability to offer effective solutions to customer situations

Until recently I have been searching for a concrete answer to the question why some sale people are able to offer better solutions than others. An article written by William Duggan on ‘strategy+business’ magazine, threw light on a new paradigm. According to this article, idea-generation happens when new information combines with similar information stored in our ‘intelligent memory.

When you have new information, the brain takes the new information to the memory bank and searches for information that are similar. The existing information that is most similar to the new information is now combined. This combination is nothing but a thought or an idea. And the ability to search for similar information and combine with new information is called intuition. A clear mind is all it requires to be intuitive.

This means that when a new situation is described by the customer the sales person needs to let intuition take over. When you allow intuition to take over, the brain takes the new information and searches your intelligent memory for existing informations that are similar. Once the match is found the brain combines the new information with the existing information. The resultant combination is what we refer to as a solution to the customer’s situation. The human brain has the ability to conduct this complex activity within fractions of a second. This shows why some sales people are able to give better solutions and are more successful. 

Sales Training programs that focus on intuitive selling are bound to give better results than your conventional sales training programs. MMM Training solutions offers sales training programs  that equips sales people to offer effective solutions to customer and thus improve their performance and that of their organization.

Getting the Right People On-board

The word “interview” makes many jittery. Often, it conjures up images of grim-faced adults in paneled rooms waiting to extract information to be used in favor of, or against those they interview.
Allow me to carry you through this scenario. An automobile showroom had placed an ad in the papers seeking applications from candidates to work for them. Peter, an ambitious young man, saw the ad and responded to it immediately. His excitement was unbridled when he was given an appointment to meet with the manager of the showroom the next day. Peter entered the portals of the showroom with dreams of a blazing future. His impressive presence caused the salesman in the showroom to mistake him for a potential customer. They went through the rigmarole of trying to impress him and it took a while before they realized that he had come to their showroom hoping to be hired. In a fraction of a second their expressions changed, attitudes transformed and there was a flurry of exasperated activity before an interview was finally made possible.

It was clear that Peter’s interviewer was ill prepared for the interview. He had not studied Peter’s resume and the questions were not targeted to assess his capability in the area of automobile sales. The interview did not last longer than 10 minutes. The manager was impressed with Peter’s presence and communication capabilities and offered immediately offered him the position. However, Peter turned it down, as he was discouraged with the lack of professionalism he had encountered. The showroom lost an excellent candidate because of the lack of readiness of the interviewer.

Every well-meaning interviewer has to know how to interview efficiently in order to identify the ideal candidate for the task at hand. This can actually be equivalent to scrambling for the ‘proverbial needle’ in a human pile. That is why interviewing skills for managers are very important.

Preparation is key to developing good interviewing skills and techniques. 

There are 3 critical steps involved in preparation:

  • Ensure that you match the candidates competencies with the competencies required for the position
  • Ensure that you create questions that will help you to elicit the information about these competencies
  • Ensure that you sell the position to the candidate by mentioning, subtly, the prospects that this opportunity has to offer

Judging by the number of programs that MMM Training Solutions conducts in Interviewing Skills Training for Managers, we can say that the efficacy is desired by corporates. The training focuses on writing relevant Job Descriptions, developing the skills needed to prepare for the interview and asking powerful questions to gain a deeper understanding of the skills and potential in the candidate

Good Interviews Leave Great Impressions About the Organization

Interviewing Skills Training

I have been lucky to have the experience of working closely with a few HR professionals in my career – sharing space with HR heads as a member of the interview panel. The conversation that unfolds while hiring senior and middle level managers is sometimes classic cases of what not to do in human relations. The first few minutes into an interview follows a usual pattern. But inevitably it turns in to a duel of wits. The loser always in my opinion is the interviewer. Not because the interviewer concedes to the interviewee’s opinion (it seldom happens) but because the interviewer does not know how to interview, leaving the interviewee feeling miserable towards the end. The interviewee is disappointed with the interview, the interviewer and the organization. An opportunity to impress upon an individual the values that the organization stands for is lost. This propagates poor reputation about the company in the market that in turn results in difficulty in attracting candidates for interviews in the long run.

I have noticed 4 common mistakes that even seasoned interviewers commit:

  1. Interviewers conduct an interview unprepared. If you are not thorough with the process, profile and competencies, the chances of hiring the appropriate employee is remote.
  2. Interviewers ask the wrong questions. The resume of a candidate just gives the basic data to filter down the number of candidates applying. The real information that goes into the decision of hiring comes from the interviews. So when wrong questions are asked, you get wrong information and wrong information leads to wrong recruitment.
  3. Interviewers have the tendency to jump to conclusions. Interviewers tend to make up their mind about candidates within the first few minutes even before collecting the necessary information. This also leads to wrong hiring.
  4. Interviewers simply check off a list of job requirements. This generally happens while hiring for the frontline positions.

Good interviewers allow a two-way probe and assessment. This gives an avenue to understand how someone thinks and relates to others. Good interviewers are well prepared, ask pertinent questions, stay in the present without being overtly judgemental and are conscious of their own reactions. They take efforts to make the interviewee feel comfortable. They avoid clichéd questions like ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘where do you see yourself 5 years from now’. Instead they ask creative questions like ‘describe what you felt when you were shortlisted’. Good interviewers employ sound interviewing techniques and clarify their perceptions with well-focused questions. And mostly importantly regardless of the fact that the candidate is being hired or not, the candidates exit the interview feeling respected and listened to. This results in a good impression about the organization, which will ensure that they will recommend it to others.

The next time you conduct an interview, remember that your company’s future success depends on the right people being hired. In this context, interviewing skills for managers is an absolute necessity.

MMM Training Solutions conducts Interviewing Skills Training, which will provide interview tips on framing effective questions, active listening and the displaying the appropriate soft skills, which will leave a favourable impression in the minds of the interviewees.

Visualize your Way to being a Successful Presenter

 presentation skills training
 

 

Do we realize that the best of presenters or the best of speakers are probably just as nervous as any other person? But they are also confident. They are confident of their subject, they are confident of their preparation and most importantly they are confident about presenting in front of the audience. So what are they nervous about? They are nervous about those things that are not in their control. The possibility of technical snags, the possibility of some indifferent member in the audience who hijacks the session and the possibility of changes in schedule.

However the people with stage fear, the people who given the smallest chance run away from the stage, are nervous about everything around them. They seem to go blank the moment they step on stage. And when they manage to start their presentation, their ordeal includes mumbling, rushing through the slides, uttering more foghorns & fillers than meaningful words, sweating and fidgeting, leaving the audience bored and wanting to leave.

As a trainer who conducts presentation skills training, who gives presentation tips and trains people on how to give a presentation, I belong to the first group of people I mentioned who are nervous about the things that are not in their control. But that is not how I was when I started my career. During the initial stages, as a trainer (17 years ago), my presentation skills I used to find all possible excuses to avoid getting on stage. And finally when I was forced to present, I did everything on stage that would either put the audience to sleep or leave them laughing; laughing at my strange mannerisms on stage. When I was on the verge of giving up presenting for the rest of my life I suddenly remembered what my athletics coach in school used to say about preparation before a race. I was a 400 meters runner. I used to be extremely nervous before the start of the race. Hence, a day before one of the athletics meets I was part of, my coach took me to the track and made me visualize the race. Visualizing the warm up before the race, nailing the starting block on the track, the smell of the tarmac, listening to the silence before the gun shot, the thunderous sound of the gun shot, the grunt of all athletes while jumping out of their blocks, the sound of spikes piercing the track, running on the curve, the faint sound of the spectators yelling at the top of their voice, the final burst of speed approaching the finish line, the final thrust towards the finishing tape and the elation of winning gold. My coach asked me to repeat the entire visualization at least 20 times. And believe me the reality was every bit like how I had visualized barring the gold. Gold or no gold, I had conquered my nervousness before a race.

I decided to put this visualization method to test to overcome nervousness in order to make it an effective presentation. I took the last seat in the auditorium the day before one of those dreaded business presentations. I visualized the chattering of 50 people who were gathered, the smell of room freshner, the odd smell of the microphone, the glare due to the spotlight, the sound of silence before the start of my presentation, the joke that I would use to start my presentation, the laughter of 50 odd people to my joke proving that at least they understood what I meant, the smile of approval on the faces of the people in the front row, the softness of the thick carpet under my feet while I moved around the stage, my voice going to a new decibel when I was closing my presentation (which I never thought was possible on stage), the rasping sound of people clapping and the swagger while I walked off stage. I visualized this at least 50 times.

The rest as they say is history.

Creativity and Innovation – A Leader’s Nightmare?

“Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate”
– Edward De Bono

Creativity and Innovation - A Leader’s Nightmare?Creativity and innovation are buzzwords in today’s business world and the need for Creative Thinking Skills Training is vital and pertinent. When we think of creativity, the names Steve Jobs and Bill Gates come to mind. These names often overwhelm people and creativity becomes a daunting task, as they feel incapable of reaching these levels.

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” — Henry David Thoreau

This picture is a manifestation of the quote. An everyday scene of two zebras grazing in the pasture triggered the photographer to take a picture that could be termed ‘innovative’, ‘creative’ and ‘thought-provoking’. The capability of the photographer to see the ‘unusual in the usual’ is what led to this photograph. This, in short, is the most desirable competency in a leader today.

There is an opportunity for embracing a new way of doing even the simplest things – how you give feedback, how you reach customers, how you position your products and so on. All things in this universe are reduced to a lower state with time. A wooden table starts to wear, humans lose energy and organs start to fail, roads have to be re-laid etc. The way a person did an activity at age 20 will have to be different when he does it at 50 and 80. How the roads were tarred 10 years ago is very different from how it is done today. In short, we are constantly innovating. Noticing the small innovations will build up the capability to embark upon bigger ones.

“The key question when we conduct leadership training isn’t “What fosters creativity?” But it is why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything.” — Abraham Maslow.

So if you are one of those who find yourself all at sea when it comes to creative thinking and left wondering how to improve creative thinking, it will help you to know that it is after all a skill that can be learnt. MMM Training Solutions offers programs on creative thinking skills that can just be the answer to your problem. Our creative thinking training programs helps you develop a disciplined approach to innovation, idea generation, concept development and strategy.