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/

 

4 Effective Ways To Manage Your Time

We’ve all done it plenty of times in our lives. The complaints usually all sound the same – “If only there was more than 24 hours in a day”, “Where did all the time go?”, “Why does time fly when you’re trying to get something done” and the endless list continues. What is it about time that is so elusive? Why does it always seem like it moves slowly just when we want it to fly and flies when we want it to move slowly? It almost seems like it has a mind of its own! But we’re the ones with the minds.

Time Management Training  programs are especially crucial for companies where every man-hour made or lost is directly proportional to money made or lost. The more efficiently a company manages it’s time through resources, systemizing or personnel, the more cost effectively the company operates by saving on time wasted.

Time Management, it turns out, is not really one of the unsolved mysteries of the Earth or rocket science that is beyond our comprehension. It takes some organizing and some discipline, the two key ‘ingredients’ to successfully manage your time. Lets look at how those aspects interplay with each other:

Goal Setting

This is the first step to begin with. To-Do lists are generally not very efficient because they only keep getting longer and after a while can get overwhelming. It is also important to set not only the ‘type’ of goals to achieve but the ‘number’ of goals that need to be done as well. Setting a goal of 5 things to do in an hour maybe more efficient than 20 things to do in the same hour. The more realistic the goals, the more achievable they are.How does one manage time more effectively is a great article that gives you many simple, yet effective, techniques.

Prioritizing

This goes hand in hand with goal setting. Some people attempt to just get ‘chunks’ of work done without prioritizing them according to importance. Consequently sometimes these are the very same people who just never seem to have time to do the things that actually matter. Prioritizing the goals that need to be achieved is the best way to maximize the efficiency of the limited time available.

Scheduling

Next it is important to actually put these priorities down on a schedule or calendar. Especially within a business context, there are often numerous tasks that may sometimes require our attention at the same time and having our priorities scheduled will help in allocating them into available slots through the workday.

Discipline

This is the rivet that holds every other piece of the time management structure together. If this isn’t managed, everything else mentioned above falls flat on its face. Once the system of goal setting, prioritizing and scheduling is setup, it takes a lot of hard work through diligence and discipline to keep the system running smoothly. This is often the area where most people falter. If discipline is maintained within our time management skills, we will discover rather quickly that time need not be our foe but can actually be our friend.

Here are some of our recent blogs on Managing Time:

  1. 3 Tips To Preparing For A Good Presentation
  2. The Cost of Clarity in Communication
  3. How NOT To Deal With Stress

3 Invaluable Soft Skills For The Workplace

Soft skills or people skills are the driving force behind any company. Gone are the days when a resume was the ‘end –all’ for the job and a person’s academic and professional qualifications were all that mattered. In today’s business world, where markets are more global and the world has become a smaller place due to media and technology, credentials and qualifications don’t cut it any more. Today a company needs ‘people skills’, ‘relationship skills’ or more popularly called, ‘soft skills’. Hence soft skills training is highly sought after by corporates.

In this blog we will look at the 3 fundamental types of soft skills necessary for the workplace:

Efficient Communication

This is probably the most valuable of the soft skill topics that companies are looking for. The ability to efficiently and effectively propagate ideas across the spectrum sets an employee apart. Good articulation in speech along with being an excellent listener goes a long ways. Appropriate use of body language also counts toward this.

Self-Confidence

While nobody likes an obnoxious know-it-all, a person who has a good degree of self-confidence and self-esteem is certainly seen as an asset. The ability to believe in oneself regardless of the situation or people around us is a strong trait that companies find particularly appealing. This will also determine the confidence with which one troubleshoots or resolves conflicts that may arise unexpectedly. Of course mere self-confidence devoid of any actual skills or knowledge is definitely counter productive.

Team Player

And that of course brings us to a very important soft skill – the ability to get along with others. Soft skills after all have to do with people and if one cannot get along with coworkers, the concept of people skills becomes a moot point. Not to mention, having the ability to work closely and efficiently with people develops a sense of camaraderie and unity that is healthy for any organization. This is often the crux of professional development training that companies invest in for their employees.

Soft Skills Training is an important aspect of corporate training which helps to develop invaluable skills sets within an employee such as those listed above that will help to enhance and improve their abilities and efficiency at work.

For further information on Soft Skills, please visit:

The Cost of Clarity in Communication

How Business Etiquette Really Matters

 

How NOT To Deal With Stress

We’ve all gone through it some time or the other in our lives – Stress. It creeps up on us everywhere from work to home and in some odd cases, even in our sleep. Stress can also manifest itself in different ways depending on the person – while some may experience headaches; others may suffer more extreme symptoms like panic attacks, shortness of breath, etc. And the solution to all these stress related symptoms are as numerous as the sources of stress themselves. There are numerous tips, home remedies and self help books that address stress management .   In this article however, we are going to look at some things that one must NOT do to deal with stress:

Stress Management Training   is a core program  in our soft skills training and corporate training that is gaining new found respect amongst corporations as they understand the cost of playing at high stakes in a competitive industry and the need to equip their employees with the nerves to handle it.

  •  Smoking – This is quite self-explanatory and hardly needs expounding upon. Smoking is bad for one’s health even if they have zero stress in their lives. Smoking is unhealthy, period!
  •  Pills or Drugs – While there are legitimate medications that one can take to relieve themselves of a head ache or so, frequent use of such medications cause the body to adjust chemical levels within itself to make it dependent on the medication while simultaneously lowering the body’s own immune system.
  • Alcohol – While some alcohol in moderation might help to calm the nerves and steady oneself, ‘drowning’ oneself in it to block out the stress is dangerous to the liver. Besides it seems counter-intuitive to cause the body physical stress in order to deal with mental stress.  ‘Managing Stress Can Improve Company Performance’  is an article on effective stress management techniques.
  •  Withdrawing from people – Sometimes stress causes us to go into a shell. Occasionally some personal space and time might be helpful. But talking to someone also helps in coping with stress better. Otherwise internalizing our stress with no external vent or outlet is not healthy for us.
  • Excessive media – Some people immerse themselves into exorbitant hours of TV or video gaming in order to be able to deal with all the stress. These media devices actually cause more stimulation to the brain preventing it from slowing down and allowing oneself to process and reflect over the stress.

For more interesting articles/blogs on stress management, please follow these links:

Can Tough Feedback make you Tougher  

Stress – A Leadership Non-Essential  

 

How Effective Are Your Presentation Skills?

Here is a story of how a young boy’s life was changed when he was given Presentation Skills Training by the TED team containing some simple techniques.

How Effective Are Your Presentation Skills?

Some time ago, Richard Turere, a 12 year old boy from Kenya got the attention of the TED team who were scouting for stories of interest near his village. Little Richard grew up on a farm that raised cattle and protecting them from lions was a task that consumed all the family’s time. He told the story of how lighting torches didn’t help in keeping the lions away but when he walked to the boundary of the field with a torch, they would stay away. TED found his story so fascinating that they flew him down to the TED conference. There was only one problem – Richard had almost no presentation skills or public speaking experience. But that didn’t deter the team. With a little help from the organizers at TED and a little practice, Richard took to the TED stage at Long Beach, California and gave his talk, despite his shy and introverted personality. When he finished, the crowd gave him a standing ovation!

What embodies good presentation skills? If a 12 year old boy from a Kenyan village could give a TED worthy lecture, is it possible that we might be able to pull of a good one ourselves? There is often the misunderstanding that presentations have to be charismatic, full of bravado and sophisticated in order to keep the listeners attentive. But this is far from the truth. Presentation skills are more than that; it is about speaking from the soul, being true to oneself, while at the same time straddling the line of data and narrative with finesse and poise. Obviously in order to give a presentation one must first have something to showcase. But we must be wise to remember that human beings love stories. And a major aspect of giving a captivating performance is to take the audience on a journey – a journey of story telling mixed with information and emotion mixed with intellect. A successful presentation can be gauged by how differently the audience sees the world when you are done. In short, a great presentation begins with the subject, shows why you as the speaker care about it so deeply and ends with making the case for why the audience must care about it just as much as the speaker does.

Presentation Skills Training is an important program of our soft skills training that companies invest in heavily to equip their employees with the right tools and resources to be able to communicate ideas and agendas confidently and efficiently. To see how companies do this, refer to this link: http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/05/18605.html

Read some of our recent blogs that gives you more information on Presentation Skills:

1. The Science of Non-Verbal Communication 

2. How Presentation Skills can be like a Movie Screenplay?

 

The Science of Non-Verbal Communication

I’ve been in a few meetings where I perceived very clearly that it wasn’t going well. The person I’m talking to is looking at me and even has a slight smile on their face. Shouldn’t that be sufficient evidence that I have their attention and they’re interested in what I have to say? Not really. While I might not have been an expert in communication skills, there were subconscious signals this person was sending me that told me they were not really engaged in this conversation even though it looked like they were. They were facially expressing that they were but their other gestures screamed otherwise.

So why is non-verbal communication important? Lets examine why: The Science of Non-Verbal Communication

Eye Contact: Even though this person was looking at me, I could tell he was distracted because his eyes were darting around and glancing at other people behind me. Eye contact is probably the most crucial aspect of non-verbal communication techniques. When we hold eye contact with the person we are talking or listening to, we communicate that we are genuinely interested in what they have to say.  

Open Posture: This person also had their arms crossed over and seemed rather rigid. He was also tapping his foot sporadically as if he was itching to go somewhere. This is usually an indication that they are not really open to what I have to say and could be perceived as disagreement, disinterest and/or impatience. It is vitally important to maintain an ‘open posture’ (free arms/open chest/open palms) while talking to people to show that they have our attention and we are interested in listening even if we don’t necessarily agree with the content.  

Facial Expression: When someone is disinterested in what is being said his or her expression usually tends to give it away. A smile could be forced but most of us can usually tell when that is the case. While listening to someone it is helpful to nod as they speak to show them that you acknowledge what they’re saying and respond emotionally according to the content (smile at something good or show more seriousness at something sober). Nothing displays disinterest than an impassive and emotionless expression. Communication Skills Training is an important aspect of equipping people with the right tools to be effective communicators in the workplace. For more information on how this is done, please refer to the following link: http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/03/18145.html

Below are some of our recent blogs on Communication Skills:

Ted Talks and The Art of Public Speaking

What Can Aladdin’s Genie Teach you on Communication Skills?  

 

How To Improve Soft Skills Of Your Employees

How To Improve Soft Skills Of Your EmployeesSoft Skills training development is currently the most rapidly growing and investing industry for corporate training in India right now. As India grows and begins to make a more global footprint and presence in the world today, companies are fast realizing the need to train their workforce to be relevant to the changing trends of corporate globalization. As a result, soft skill training in India has exploded. But exactly what are soft skills? And how does that actually affect the way we do our work and interact with our colleagues? After all, isn’t all that matters simply our academic credentials and/or work experience? Well, no it’s not that simple and here is why:

Communication Skill

Of all the soft skill topics, this is the most cardinal skill that one needs to have. Eye contact, an attentive posture and non-verbal acknowledgement (affirming nods) go a long ways in communicating that you are paying attention to what is being said. It also attributes a sense of undivided attention that makes for an affluent conversation.

Relational Skill

Developing relational equity with a colleague also goes a long way in honing one’s soft skills. Making sure to get good quality time with one’s peers goes a long ways in developing common ground and foundational trust that can be so crucial to a harmonious working relationship. Having relational equity is also tremendously useful when a conflict arises and a situation is created that requires tact and trouble-shooting skills for a healthy resolve and reconciliation.

Initiative Skill

Whenever possible, it also helps to take the lead on an issue and be the one to spearhead a project or task, or at least be willing to. This displays responsibility but also fosters an image of dependability that is encouraging to the company and peers included. It shows a general care for the greater good and a principled approach to taking ownership of a situation.

With the growing need in this area, there are numerous programs that train on how to develop soft skills. For more information on soft skill training from a company’s perspective, please refer to the following article – Top 5 Most Important Soft Skills Training for Companies

Soft Skills Development For Interpersonal Relationships

I had no idea what behavioral training was. But let me qualify that statement with a story first. My former colleague had it all – the social status, the education, training, work experience, fantastic resume, high benefits job, etc. It seemed like he was born as royalty, with a silver spoon in his mouth and wired for success. At work he had the Midas touch – every project and assignment he ventured into he was successful at. He was the envy of many at work, including myself. And then one day in a rather strange turn of events he suddenly left the company. And I was asked to take over some of his projects. Over the next few weeks I got to talk to some of his department staff and a very different image of him turned up. His staff claimed he was rude, proud, narcissistic, insensitive and totally oblivious to his fellow peers. People hated being around him and would consider it a fabulous day if they didn’t have to run into him in the hallway. Their testimonies of him were so damning that I was struggling to understand if we were talking about the same person. So while his personal achievements were pretty hot, his interpersonal relationships were stone cold dead! Days after his departure our company began a behavioral skills training program. Now I know what it means!

Soft Skills Development For Interpersonal Relationships

My former colleague lacked, what is called in the professional world, ‘Soft Skills’. What are soft skills? Lets first address what they are not – they are not your academic or professional qualifications or credentials; that would be called a ‘resume’. Soft skills are those intangible qualities and traits that one possesses in work ethic, communication skills, attitude and emotional intelligence. They are the little facets of one’s personality and character that make them who they are, that are so vital to doing one’s job effectively. Companies today look just as hard into a candidate’s behavioral skills as they do his professional skills.

While a candidate’s weighty CV/resume might get him through the doors of the company, it is ultimately his soft skills that will define what he becomes and determine how long he lasts there. A person with good soft skills is a naturally good leader, excelling in delegation of responsibilities, troubleshooting, conflict resolution and a host of other talents crucially necessary for productivity and efficiency in the workplace. Unfortunately soft skills training are highly undervalued in the business world today. But this scenario is starting to change rapidly with the evolution of professional development training offered my numerous companies. Soft Skills is fast becoming a highly desired aspect for employee profiling and hiring in the corporate world today.

For more information on Soft Skills Training, please refer to the following article – Top 5 Most Important Soft skills training for Companies

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.