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/

 

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.

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.

Soft Skills Trainers! Enhance Your Careers – Just Buy It!

Soft Skills Trainers, Enhance Your Careers – Just Buy It!

I once invited my girlfriend home to showcase my culinary skill, though it was just an attempt at making vegetable fried rice. The entire effort lasted a gruelling 3 hours. Out of the 3 hours spent in the kitchen, more than 2 hours were spent cleaning and dicing the vegetables. I gave up when my final attempt tasted unpalatable. Embarrassed, I made the wise decision of buying it. She devoured the dish and left very little for me.

All is well that ends well. Lesson learnt, cooking is not my forte! My girlfriend became my wife and since cooking is not her forte too, we eat out a lot. We do not spend time re-inventing the wheel!!

A close friend of my mine, also in the training profession, a process trainer, learnt it the hard way. He was a very talented process trainer. The CEO of his company, impressed by his ability to brilliantly articulate ideas and keep up the interest of participants all through a 6-hour process training, entrusted him the task of training the mid-level managers on presentation skills. My friend who was always ready for a challenge accepted the task gleefully. He had 5 days to prepare a 2-day presentation skills training module.

What transpired the next 3 days was arduous and yet funny (well, funny for me). After seven hours of work he called me and said that he was yet to finalize on an outline. His exact words describing his ordeal was “This is worse than searching for a needle in a hay stack especially when you are not sure if what you need is a needle.” Before the close of day he rushed to the neighbourhood library and got 3 books that claimed tall on how presentations are made effective . That night he hardly slept but managed to collate adequate information.

The next day at office, barring few short breaks the entire day was spent on creating a PowerPoint. In the evening he wanted me to review his PowerPoint. It was a 48 MB file with 322 slides. I made it very clear that I would not go through his PowerPoint and left him with a small word of wisdom – “Ideally an 8 hour training day should not have more than 35 slides.” And so his second night was spent cutting down 80% of the slides.

On the third morning at office my friend sends me a mail with a compact 1MB PowerPoint as attachment and a subject line reading “size zero – presentation skill program.” As I perused his PowerPoint and spoke to him on what methodologies he intends adopting, I realized his program was heading for a disaster. He spent the 3rd day at office working on the participant handbook and few handouts. In the evening when we met I told him what I felt about his preparation and narrated my fried rice story. I suggested he should buy online soft skills training materials  that come with PowerPoint, facilitator guide, participant handout, handbook and other related training objects. He looked at me with mixed emotions. He was relieved that his ordeal might just come to an end but he was piqued with me for not advising him of this option earlier.

I am sure there are lot of us out there who would love do our own stuff. It’s good as long as we have the luxury of time.

If not, why re-invent the wheel, just buy it!!

Consider buying the time-tested and proven soft skills training material created by the expert trainers of MMM Training Solutions.

Creativity and Appetite for Risk – Is Jeff Bezos a fool or a leader?

As I read about the octocopter drones in the newspaper yesterday morning, I thought I was watching a science fiction movie in my dream. After pinching myself to reality, I raced to the Internet and watched Jeff Bezos of Amazon being interviewed on 60 minutes.

I was entranced by the octocopter but even more mesmerized by Jeff Bezos who has the courage to take such a huge risk. Bezos stated that the time between receiving the request from the customer and delivering the product to the customer is shortening everyday and if the innovations are not targeted in this area, the business dies. In his quest to keep his business fresh and listening to the voice of the customer, he has revealed that Amazon has invested in the research and development of the octocopter which is a GPRS driven electrical device that will deliver packages (of maximum weight of 5 pounds) within a 10-mile radius in a window of 30 minutes. The description of ‘fast’ needs to be rewritten in the dictionary!

“A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.”― Albert Einstein

As a leadership trainer, people who push the limit and are willing to take the fall always fascinate me. Managers who are conservative and cautious are becoming obsolete in today’s market. The ability to explore unexplored paths and make imagination a reality are core competencies of a leader today. In the 19th century, business encouraged people to be risk-averse but today people have to risk-hungry. Situations that are risky are seen as an opportunity for creative thinking and growth.

Corporates that focus on leadership development should be asking themselves some key questions – Are we encouraging creativity, innovation and risk-taking in our people? Are we rewarding these qualities and is it a part of performance management? Are we talking about these qualities only for the top management or are we creating this environment for people as soon as they join the company?

The leadership programs conducted by MMM Training Solutions focuses on the core competencies of a leader that are essential for success in the 21st century. Some of the distinguishing features of our program are – duration of 3 to 6 months, combination of individual coaching and group training and individual assignments that help the participants to put the learning into practice.

Courage – A Leadership Essential

‘I’ve had my ups and downs,’ he says. ‘My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That’s what made me what I am today. Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection.  A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics and a mindset to master the most epic of splits.’Jean-Claude Van Damme

Volvo released a commercial ‘The Epic Split’  on Nov 14th, 2013, in which Jean Claude does an amazing feat – does a split between two Volvo trucks. The commercial brings out the precision of the Volvo trucks with perfect clarity. But to me, as an Executive Coach, what was even more fascinating is the feat done by Jean Claude.

As I studied about his life, the two values that he embraced from age 11 were Consistency and Courage. At the age of 11, his father took Jean Claude for martial arts lessons because he was physically weak. At the age of 15, Van Damme started his competitive karate career in Belgium. From 1976-1980, Van Damme compiled a record of 44 victories and 4 defeats in matches.The application and dedication to the sport has contributed significantly to an enviable Hollywood film career for him.

Jean-Claude  has struggled with substance abuse and mental illness for a significant period in his life. He had reached a point when he had strong suicidal tendencies. 1997 was a turning point in his life when started to pull things back to normalcy in his life.

As I read about Jean Claude’s life, I was impressed with the way he kept his singular focus on martial arts through his difficult times. This focus gave him the ability to deal with the other circumstances.

As leaders, do you have a purpose, which gives you direction in your life? “A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” Rudder is the smallest part of a ship without which a ship is directionless. It takes courage to have a purpose and even more courage to hold on to this purpose through challenging times by consistently altering our mindsets. May we have more leaders like Jean-Claude!

Essentials for Effective Communication

Essential for Effective Communication

Watson Wyatt, a leading worldwide human consulting firm, did a study to understand the impact of effective communication in companies. The study was done over a five-year period (mid-2004 to mid-2009) and the study shows that shareholders got a 47% higher return from companies that communicate effectively.

“Effective communication helps engage employees, and that has positive implications for productivity and the bottom line,” said Kathryn Yates, global leader of communication consulting at Watson Wyatt.

This survey found that companies scoring high on communication parameters, are good in 3 areas – courage to continuously address employee concerns, innovatively adjust employment deals to match market conditions and measure progress with stringent discipline.

Courage, Innovation, Discipline – Watson Wyatt has identified these, in the study, to be essentials for efficient communication. Let us look at how these values are relevant to communication.

  • Courage: Watson Wyatt defines it as “telling it like it is.”

“Communication is truth; communication is happiness. To share is our duty; to go down boldly and bring to light those hidden thoughts which are the most diseased; to conceal nothing; to pretend nothing; if we are ignorant to say so; if we love our friends to let them know it.”
― Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader

We often try to shield people from bad news. This creates a layer of deception and hampers trust. The best way to build trust and relationships is to state the facts without diluting it. As many studies have found out, the top most reason why people leave their jobs is not because of dissatisfaction with their pay but because of their relationship with their bosses. Bad news hurts at first but it is the reality and facing these situations in a healthy fashion is what creates maturity.

  • Innovation: Creating a favorable environment for people to be innovative is the responsibility of an organization.

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
― Peter F. Drucker

Organizations need to be comfortable suspending what they are used to and foray into unknown territories, thus encouraging their employees to do the same. Innovation should not be restricted to products but should extend to every aspect of the business. Continuously communicating in the abstract space of possibilities to employees sets a precedent of a mindset of innovation.

  • Discipline: Wyatt stresses the importance of the need to set directions, take stock of the movement on a regular basis and, most importantly, communicating all this to the employees on a regular basis. This will serve as the rudder on a ship – providing direction and causing the employees to adjust course. With the fast changing marketplace the need to have heightened awareness is very high. Email blasts from the CEO, town hall meetings, blogs and video messages from key people on significant topics relevant to the employees can all serve to enhance the comfort level of the employees, as they will, at all times, know the performance of the organization.

As an engine is to a train, so is communication to an organization. The power and efficiency of an engine dictates the direction of the train. Hence, the emphasis paid to communication should play a significant role in any organization.

Today most organizations provide communication training to help their leaders and managers communicate with employees. However, only 3 out of 10 companies are training managers to deal openly with resistance to change. In the same Watson Wyatt study it was identified that highly effective communicators are more than 3 times as likely to handle resistance to change openly than the least effective communicators.

We at MMM Training Solutions provide customized communication training to all levels of management. Our ability to target the issues specific to each organization contributes greatly to the success of our program.

Softskills Training Modules for Aspiring Trainers

In today’s scenario the only solution to stay ahead of the competition for any organization is to develop the skills-sets of its employees on both domain knowledge and ‘Soft Skills’. One gets to acquire domain expertise through formal education or knowledge gained through experience.

But how does one acquire ‘Soft Skills’ and do ‘Soft Skills’ really matter?

On many occasions we have encountered situations where we have to call the customer service department of a telephone service provider to lodge a complaint.  The response given by the customer service representative leaves us with a delightful, satisfied or bad experience. If the customer service representative not only supports you in sorting the problem but takes a very professional approach in handling your call, they will leave a lasting impression in your mind. On the contrary, if the representative displays apathetic behavior towards your complaint, it leaves you with a bad experience.

Any organization that is into a client-servicing business has to ensure that all its employees are trained well in ‘Soft Skills’ to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction. Companies have started to train their employees of different levels starting from blue collar employees like office assistants, chauffeurs, and cleaners to white collar employees from different functions like administration, human resources, marketing, customer service, purchase management, finance etc.

Organizations seek the support of both internal and external trainers to train their employees on Soft Skills. The trainers buy the Soft Skills training materials developed by experts in the industry and customize the material according to their requirement.

These training materials are created based on extensive research and experience gained through the success of training programs delivered by the training experts. They bring together the content which has worked well across industries and achieved the desired learning objectives.

The training materials have both facilitator and participant guides to help the trainer to deliver the training seamlessly. Each slide of the PowerPoint (PPT) is explained with notes for the trainer, which can be used to explain the concept. These materials support the trainers immensely as it gives them a clear layout and the trainer needs to do very little to tweak the content as per their training needs.

MMM Training Solutions have developed training materials on various topics in the area of ‘soft skills’. The trainer can purchase these materials online, and the materials are sent via e-mail immediately on receipt of payment. The materials contain a PowerPoint presentation of the topic, facilitator guide, participant guide and handouts (if any). Apart from training modules the trainer can also purchase training objects like case studies, games, activities and role plays that can make their training experiential.

To know more about the training materials offered by MMM Training Solutions please visit: http://www.mmmts.com/training_materials.htm

Presentation Training – A Key Component of Corporate Coaching

Presentation Training – A Key Component of Corporate Coaching

Having the skill to deliver good presentations is imperative to the role of a leader. But during our formative years we are hardly given any guidance on this skill and so giving a public presentation is most people’s nightmare. Presentation Training is a key component of our Corporate Coaching.

This blog is focused on 3 simple tips that can make your presentation impactful:

1. Appeal to the emotions of your audience:

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner

A lot of business presentations are filled with facts but are devoid of feeling. A good way to bring in feelings would be to use a story that highlights the key points of the facts. Most importantly, the story and the facts need to answer the question, “What is in it for me?” Only if the audience sees the relevance to their life will they stay engaged.

“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The ability of a presentation to persuade and convert the thinking of the audience is what deems it great. Persuasion is not possible without tapping into the feelings of the audience. It is not only the vibrant green color of the grass but also the aroma of the crisp blades and the feel of the grass on your bare feet that makes you say that is fresh. Your senses are what determine your feelings and emotion is triggered by a feeling. So if your presentation does not appeal to the senses of your audience your impact will be compromised.

2. Prepare the presentation from the perspective of your audience:

A concerned mother decided to take her young son for advice to a swamiji as he was consuming large amounts of sugar everyday. When she informed the swamiji of the problem, he asked her to bring the son a week later. She consented even though she was puzzled. When she returned a week later, she asked the swamiji the reason for the week’s delay. Swamiji replied, “I was eating sugar and I could not authentically give advice unless I stopped and lived the experience. This past week I have not touched sugar and I feel ready to meet your son.”

Experience your presentation from the audience’s perspective. Ensure that the presentation answers the questions that could potentially arise in the minds of the participants. The captain of a cricket team arranges the field to where the batsmen could potentially hit.

3. Preparation is the key:

“It takes one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation time.” – Wayne Burgraff

The only way to overcome your nervousness and to enhance your confidence thus capturing the attention of your audience is to prepare. Somers White puts it aptly when he says, “90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” The amount of preparation time predicates the outcome.

All this requires discipline and focus, which is the core component of our Business Coaching program.