Thursday, October 29, 2009

7 Training Opportunities We Overlook

When the word training is uttered, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Often, we visualize a classroom of participants with sombre expression facing a trainer, rite?

Though I don’t argue that classroom training has its place but when training is equate to just that, we had missed out many opportunities.

Training and development does help and make a difference to the way people do their work. So, if employers are thinking that training had to involve spending lots of money, perhaps the following may open up your mind to other avenues of getting your staff trained and developed.

1. On the job or OTJ training for short. It has been around for ages and has proven time and again, its successful method. It applies best for technical skills. You watch how something is being done, do it yourself and improve based on feedback given, and the cycle repeats. Over time, the skills became second nature. Good for the trainee and great news for employers because the cost is zero!

2. In-house training. Get a senior to conduct a theory and practical session – again, it does not costs a cent and yet the benefits are tremendous, both to the trainees as well as the trainer. As a trainer, you are required to know your stuff much more and through an opportunity like this, the trainer gets to train herself to be even more familiar with the subject-matter. It applies to both technical as well as soft skills. The employer benefit by having a seasoned senior and well-trained junior workforce at the end of the day.

3. Check with your vendors – the usual type of training you can get is product training but who knows, they may have some in-house training on soft skills such as customer service, selling and etc. – can they include you as well? If you are an important client, they would not dare to charge you..:D

4. Through a Networking Club – join a local networking club in which they invite speakers on regular basis. You can get your staff to join for FREE.

5. Books and Training Manuals – say, you want your supervisor to learn about leadership or management skills, why not get him to read a book that you had read (important!) and write a review or things he can learn. After that, encourage him to apply the principles learnt in the work place.

6. Online education – knowledge abounds in the net now. There is really no excuse for not knowing anything unless you are lazy. Get to know some sites that are of authority in the subject matter and set apart say half an hour a day for your staff to surf and learn from these technical experts or gurus.

7. Social networking sites – leverage the power of these sites. Do not be afraid to get your staff to be hooked up with Facebook and encourage them to get connected with experts of various subject matters. Do you know it is so easy to send a message or better still, write a message on someone’s wall and ask for advice? Learning takes place immediately when people start responding to your question.

So, there you have it – 7 opportunities, yet we so often left out from our radar. The next time, someone in your organization asked, “Is there any training provided?”, I bet you now have a better answer..:)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Employment Landscape Is Changing

The market place as we speak is changing very rapidly. I came across an article, “The Next American Frontier” written by Michael S. Malone and I felt his insights on the new age is so spot-on that I believe this is not going to happen only in America but all around the world.

Newspapers are dying, networks are dying, and if teenage boys playing GTA 4 and World of Warcraft have any say about it, so is television. More than 200 million people now belong to just two social networks: MySpace and Facebook. And there are more than 80 million videos on YouTube, all put there by the same individual initiative.

The most compelling statistic of all? Half of all new college graduates now believe that self-employment is more secure than a full-time job. Today, 80% of the colleges and universities in the U.S. now offer courses on entrepreneurship; 60% of Gen Y business owners consider themselves to be serial entrepreneurs, according to Inc. magazine. Tellingly, 18 to 24-year-olds are starting companies at a faster rate than 35 to 44-year-olds. And 70% of today's high schoolers intend to start their own companies, according to a Gallup poll.

An upcoming wave of new workers in our society will never work for an established company if they can help it. To them, having a traditional job is one of the biggest career failures they can imagine.

We do not have to wait for another five years to see this phenomena taking place locally. This fundamental shift as I blog is happening right beneath our feet whether we like it or not. One clear evidence is that never before had I witnessed fresh graduates that confessed they are “unemployable”. What do we expect when half of their time was involved in creating content for their Facebook pages. Unconsciously, that experience had produced many entrepreneurs in the making. In a way, the internet phenomena has indeed turned our world upside-down and if everyone now has equal footing to access of information, customers and expertise, it looks like making it on my own is not a far-fetched idea anymore. Twenty years ago, no youngster can dare to even dream this far.

With such a shift in behavioral patterns, the employers may have to rethink their hiring and manpower planning strategy. For a while, the idea of outsourcing work to freelancers or contractors do not look very appealing and the solution seems to be a temporary one than anything else. But note this: this temporary solution might as well be your strategic long term plan. And the concept of getting people to work for you needs to be quickly changed to getting the right partner or people to work with you. We are experiencing a water shed moment, and like it or not, the wind of change in the employment landscape is taking place now and the question of whether we will be affected by it or not is mute. More likely, the pertinent question is whether or not we should quickly embrace and take the lead or resist and get crushed by it later.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Whose job is more important?

These pictures were taken during the Malaysian Open Tennis Finals. A major event such as this takes a lot of manpower to make it a success. Everyone has a job to do. Whose job is more important?

First off, the protagonists of the event….

But who ensures the players play smoothly? Bingo– it’s the ball boys and ball girls.

But how can we forget the umpire – the most important person in the match? When you get a penalty or a fine, no "face" is given even though you can be No. 1 player in the world. Watch out, Federer!

But this game won’t even take place if it’s not because of sponsors and one important thing they demand – the match must be telecast… LIVE, if possible. But no one ever thank this video cameraman. I wonder why…

And let’s not forget the blogosphere and Facebook – layman with a camera is very powerful nowadays…ahem…

Some hated the paparazzi but everyone will start to panic if they did not turn up…:(

A winner must emerge at the end. No one can accept a no winner match, no?

So, whose job is more important to determine the event’s success?

You guess it right! It has to be me among the many that oooh and aaahh and with intermittent shouts of “Davydenko” and “Verdasco” throughout the match. And not forgetting we have to PAY to get this job done …Not an easy job - money, sweat and all...LOL..

Friday, October 16, 2009

Funny Quotes With The Word "Work"

This is just for laughs….

1. The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work. -Robert Frost

2. Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? -Edgar Bergen

3. I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. -Jerome K Jerome

4. Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work. -Robert Orben

5. People are always available for work in the past tense. -Zymurgy’s Law of Volunteer Labour

6. If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves. -Lane Kirkland

7. One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. -Bertrand Russel

8. The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more. -Jonas Salk

9. I didn't have to work till I was three. But after that, I never stopped. -Martha Raye

10. Why is it men are permitted to be obsessed about their work, but women are only permitted to be obsessed about men? -Barbra Streisand

11. By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day. -Robert Frost

12. I worked at a farm, in an office, and did a bit of mail. I found them all tedious. -Tim Burgess

13. Work is a refuge of people who have nothing better to do. -Oscar Wilde

14. A woman's work is never done, especially the part she asks her husband to do. -Unknown Source

15. If you work to feed your stomach, you’ll never stop working in your lifetime. -me (lame..)

16. What can be worst than work? No work, seriously… -me ('s lame)

17. I only enjoy one type of work work out! -me (lame? whatever...:))

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A woman boss! Do you have a problem with that?

“Is the boss a woman?”

“Err…yes. Is that a problem?”

“Oh, in that case, can I not apply for the post? I’m not interested to work with women bosses.”

Sounds familiar? You know what is worst….they have the guts to tell this to the face of a WOMAN. It’s sad when a candidate made this remark and sadder when it also came from the same species.

The prejudice continues…

Forbes revealed in their list of America’s Top-Paid Female CEOs and this is what they had discovered…

This year, America's top-paid female CEOs earned, on average, $3.9 million. Compare this to the men, who raked in an average of $11.9 million...

By and large, women had made great progress over the past century. Sweeping strides were seen in the academic field (the number of female graduates that far surpassed their male counterparts is a testimony to that) and the general workforce (definitely an increase over the past ten years as compared to fifty years ago).

But, and it’s a big BUT here, relatively few have made the journey all the way to the highest levels of leadership. And the few that made it were paid so much lesser than their male counterparts for the same job. Unfair, no?

Why? Is it because of the prejudices we hold that women' position is best found in the kitchen or home fixing meals and rearing children.

Or is it because women just do not seem to possess the competencies required for leaders?

From countless surveys done, the statistics say women HAVE what it takes to be a leader. One of these surveys was done by Women Leaders Study, and the results show that women are by no means inferior in their leadership capabilities when compared to men. In fact, they conclude they are by far better leaders (ah..hah)

Women Leaders Study

“women leaders are more assertive and persuasive, have a stronger need to get things done and are more willing to take risks than male leaders....Women leaders were also found to be more empathetic and flexible, as well as stronger in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts....enabling them to read situations accurately and take information in from all sides....These women leaders are able to bring others around to their point of view....because they genuinely understand and care about where others are coming that the people they are leading feel more understood, supported and valued.”

Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi since 2006

So, the next time when you were told that your boss is going to be a woman, what would be your answer?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Best Way To Get Hired - What Is The Poll Saying?

I created a poll in LinkedIn with this question recently:

How did you get to know about your current job?

The number of response was rather pathetic but this is what I gathered:-

Referrals – 28%
Job Portals – 28%
Newspaper Ads – 7%
Head-Hunter – 21%
Others – 14%

Click here to see the poll.

Due to the number of responses, the results may not be entirely accurate. So I checked out others. Surprisingly, most surveys such as the following which is done by an outplacement company seems to concur with my own findings.

The was done by asking human resource executives to rate the effectiveness of various job-search methods on a scale of 1 1(least effective) to 5(most effective). Here are the results:


Social/professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter..................3.3

Internet job boards..............................3.0

The least effective methods, according to the poll, were:

Newspaper classified ads........................1.7

Job Fairs...........................................1.6

Read more here.

The best and most effective way to get hired is through your contacts or career networking(the professional term). I think experience had told us that this is so true. A good word by a friend makes a lot of difference, especially from a friend that has some professional standing. His opinions would obviously be highly regarded. So, looks like it’s a never a bad idea to know some friends in high places, eh?

Now, how do you get started? And how do you ensure they vouch for you? Let me throw you some ideas:

1. Make good friends with your head-hunters or recruitment consultants. Form lasting relationships, if possible by sending your professional updates on regular basis. Trust and credibility is built on time. Ability to form a good impression in the eyes of head-hunters is both a skill and effort, but believe me, the time and effort is worth it. The same applies if you offended or stepped on the wrong foot of the head-hunters – the word spread and it may destroy you.

2. Do not limit yourself to one networking channel or connection. Is there a local church/mosque/temple, networking clubs like BNI, golf or tennis clubs, pet forums, charity organizations and etc. that you can be part of?

3. Are you willing to write, review, comment or give a talk on your professional field? That is where you establish your authority in that subject. Soon, prospective employers will be knocking on your doors. The results may not come immediately but harvest will come when you have sowed the seed.

4. Get letters of testimonials and recommendation from employers and clients whenever you did a good job. A collection of these will come in handy.

5. Keep in touch with your ex-colleagues and ex-bosses. Do not burn bridges with them. Prospective employers like to make reference checks with your past employers. I think you know what is at stake if you had jeopardized those relationships.

6. That applies to your business and personal associates too. Keep in touch with them so that they know you are still doing what you are doing. You may probably be the first person they remember when a job related to your profession pops up in conversations!

7. Many professionals are using LinkedIn and even Facebook more and more nowadays to get job recommendations. What kind of professional image are you projecting? You may be surprised what you put there can either make or harm you.

The old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know” does has an element of truth when you are climbing the corporate ladder. So, be a smart career planner. Having said that, I am not against those that believe their good performance will speak for themselves but it just takes longer for people to notice you. Whether you like it or not, most people who hold really good positions got there through networking!

What about those who are just starting out? Is it too early to start career networking? Never. But for you, the next best bet would be the online job sites(the poll results speak for itself).

Cheers to a better career!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Has The "Status Updates" Flu Got To You?

“What’s on your mind?” feature in Facebook is the most used by almost anyone I know who are on Facebook. When Twitter comes along, it reinforced the idea of updating one’s status to another notch.

Once upon a time, you don’t get to know what your mom is doing a few hundred miles away until you received a letter but now, you can get updates almost every second of the day. I don’t think anyone would have guessed the kind of “connectedness” world we are living fifty years ago.

I admit I was slow in catching this flu. It boggles my mind at first to read every mundane dots and commas shared by your friends and connections. I mean, do I need to respond to someone who has just updated, “I’m bored….”? Then I realize many people actually use this feature not to get people to read them but it’s an outlet for them to express their thoughts. But it does say something about who we are as humans – we are creatures that need to relate and want attention. So, in a way, we are all kids at heart (ya know how kids are – doing everything to get your attention!).

What the employers are saying?

This flu is definitely affecting our working life. Most professionals are given internet access and with the number of Facebook and Twitter users increasing by the day, more or less every one of them would have an account. Imagine the time spend on updating one’s status, reading other’s status and commenting on them, I wonder what the employers are saying?

I remember my friend was venting his frustration the other day about his staff not able to complete a proposal before the deadline, citing not enough time. The staff apparently was busy updating her status and commenting on others status during that time, completely unaware and had forgotten that her boss is also in her friends’ list. Aha…so, beware who are in your friends’ list? I was caught off-guard one day too when an acquaintance (barely knew him) asked me what a nice name I had for my dog. “Hey, how did you know that?” Immediately I blurted out, I realized the information must have come from one of my updates in Twitter and he is either one of my followers or Facebook friends, or got it from my Blogs!

But many people are using this tool for other purposes such as:-

• Managing own identities. A virtual personality created can be very different from the real self and you can project yourself as more confident, interesting and likeable. It was said that a magazine editor actually hired a professional writer to update her status on full-time basis so that she will be seen as an interesting and mysterious persona.

• Broadcast your service – selling something. (Aha…this is so me)

• Opportunity to give breaking news or make some urgent announcements.

But for whatever reasons , I agree with Pychyl (Psychologies magazine)

"There are three basic human needs. Competence, autonomy and relatedness. What these sites do is really feed that need for relatedness. More than that, they reinforce the idea that our story is just as important as someone else’s story, and the stories of our lives are important."

You know what I'll do next now? You guess it on my Twitter account.(PS In the past, people may term this behavior as egocentric. Now, it’s almost normal…)