Sunday 29 March 2015

When Will You Conclude That Your Training Need Analysis Is Complete?

You can ask a few fundamental questions first before you begin the analysis:

  1. Whose training needs are you trying to identify?
  2. Is it the training scope for an individual, business or organization?
  3. Is it technical, behavioral, product, leadership training?
  4. What are the learning outcomes that business is trying to achieve through training?
  5. Who will sign off the training content prior to roll out?
  6. Have you identified stakeholders who will measure training effectiveness?
  7. Have you taken a call on the time frame or the measurement cycle period?
  8. Does the learner know regarding knowledge gap or skill needed or training scope?
  9. Who will deliver the training - Internal team or external training consultants from professional training companies?
  10. How will you deliver the training - in a class room or webex?
  11. Have you identified the business leaders you will talk to get an understanding about training needs?
There is no particular order however when you run these questions in your mind before a training analysis, it will be increasingly evident to you that you have to adopt a target based strategy to conclude the analysis. In short it means,

  1. You have to validate the training need from different stakeholders
  2. You have to list all the business outcomes the training will impact
  3. You have to identify a leader who will own assessment after the training.
You therefore cannot conclude your training need analysis as complete unless you have the answers and a definite approach to address these three questions. 

When you validate training needs in such depth, the content design has to fall into place to suit that need so that immediately after the training a high level measurement process can be initiated.

If the training need is not properly assessed, the content and module can be highly misleading that can bring altogether different results and not the desired outcomes.

Saturday 28 March 2015

How to Design an Outcome Based Learning Module?

Typically, in any business environment, the three key components required for any training measurement cycle is Aware – Apply – Ascertain. When trainings are measured based on level one feedback alone - how many attended the program and how they rated the module, the training content and the learning takeaways is designed more for popularity and scores based on the “Aware” piece. In this model, apply and ascertain is not in scope for measurement.


Most behavioral trainings and some technical workshops too generate awareness only . Participants gather theoretical inputs, draw some insights, find some concepts great eye openers and therefore rate the workshop high.  


When it is time to apply learning in daily work, it is either the project lead or reporting manager who has to keep track if the trained resources are regularly using the new learning, whenever and wherever applicable. There is hardly any individual ownership. 


Is it possible to ascertain positive impact of the training on a team or an individual only through awareness and by tracking how often learning is applied? When participants are made to realize certain outcomes and deliverables are expected out of them within an agreed time frame, after training is concluded – attendees tend to rise above awareness alone and remember specific sections relevant to their work to deliver expected results and ensure training effectiveness. An outcome based learning module can be designed if we go backwards – Assess needs first, Apply learning themes to address those needs and be constantly aware how the outcomes are aligned to the training module that you are designing to be measured at a later date, against those needs.

During this reversal of process, you first have to determine measurement criteria, measurement time frame and measurement owners.  Designing a training module to address outcomes, you have to know current capability of your trainees and project. Without that gap analysis, your training modules are either addressing only projects needs or individual needs. Ideally for outcomes, the program designer should incorporate both, set the yardstick to measure and identify stakeholders to drive the learning for the required impact.

This is an edited version of what was originally published by Triond

When Should A Leader Train Himself?

When a team is self sufficient, each member know their responsibilities and there is a predictability as far as their outputs are concerned - consistent and timely - that is the first hint at need for training to prepare for the next level.

There is no deviation in procedures and policies, no attrition, no crisis and no new learning as the project is stable and doing well. In such a scenario is there anything in particular a leader is expected to do, except represent the team in Management meetings? Well, the truth is - that is quite unnecessary.

Direction: When a project is performing well without a leader's intervention, the leader can engage in new learning and leverage his skills in initiatives to support organization's agenda to achieve the next mile stone. If there is scope for improvement in the way a project is handled, regardless of how well it is performing under his leadership - increase productivity, turn around time, cost cut or quality measure, an ideal leader would work in that direction and up-skill his team accordingly

New Capability: There is a huge difference between managerial and leadership traits. It is not just that usual identity - a manager manages and a leader leads. Leadership is a state of mind and so a leader is not supposed to be limited to team and project management alone. He ideally will never lose any opportunity he gets, to tap his own potential, access his own strengths and if required acquire new capability to meet organization goals. His own agenda of resource utilization, starting with self, is always at optimum level.

Being coached: When things are routine, a leader seems surplus. Only when a crisis occurs the team feels blessed to have him around provided he has that ability to decide, own consequences of his decisions, trust his team enough and not to engage in blame culture for project failures. He has the required experience to suggest course correction and over come the catastrophe. If not, he is the one who needs coaching

Go To Person: When a team is doing well, and is capable of taking decisions, carrying them out effectively and owning it end to end - a leader can do two things as his knowledge and experience counts a lot for the company. Firstly he can build repository of knowledge for easy access and future reference to reduce people dependency, share his knowledge in social media channels that hints to prospects regarding the level of expertise available in the company. He can enhance his own scope of learning by attending seminars, webinars, market trends, competitive intelligence. His knowledge base can be a good reference point for the strategic team to plan forward.

Nurturing Talent: If there is a second man in the team, who has been doing a great job in his absence, a good leader with integrity will develop that person and nurture his talent to lead the project so that his personal bandwidth is available for bigger challenges. He will not pause a moment to get out of his comfort zone and try something new and in the exercise, his own talent and potential is significantly exploited.

Is the leader in you ready to be trained?

This is an edited version of what was originally published by Triond

What Is The Key Word In Today’s Training Vernacular?

Image Credit:

The trend is more than obvious. Corporate executives and leaders have a completely different set of expectations from training today. The success of any training workshop or learning team depends on their contribution primarily in the following three aspects:


It does not matter who owns the training function – the internal learning and development team or the external professional company, there is cry for change. From the management’s perspective, it is more a cry for change than cost. The company bleeds even more by making training mandatory like a mechanical robot being fed with data. Training should be viewed as a great tool to bring organization change by transforming available talent. Sadly, many firms conduct training to keep their jobs, fill reports, boast about coverage and launch programs based on what is going on outside, rather than inside.


If training is not able to create value, it is an expense and if it can drive improvement in revenue, productivity and performance, it is definitely good investment. Even worse, if a company's strategy is to hire a professional training company for leadership training and let the internal training teams handle the standard soft skills training for the rest of the crowd. This is such a primitive approach - when will company think about value based training rather than role based?


If you have a hundred member training team taking care of technical, behavioral and leadership trainings and your organizations is still stuck at USD X revenue for the past five years, what will your next step be? The need of the hour for every professional training company and training team is not to run courses and marvel at the various medium that technology offers the learner but to understand the true needs of business and focus on results.

The key word in today’s training language is transformation. Is your training team ready to deliver that?

How Do You Measure Your Sales Force After Training?

It is this exercise – to measure the sales force appropriately – that has the potential to break or make an organization. There are a few aspects of business that is standard regardless of size and revenue of the company and the industry it belongs – one of them is the measurement system for sales team. The sales lead has a huge pressure to explain and justify costs involved in sales if the revenue is not generated as expected, deals not won as assured.

Image Credit: LinkedIn Web

Measuring Outcomes

This huge dependency on the sales team to actually bring in the revenue makes this measurement exercise all the more crucial – This in turn brings the eternal question regarding what should be truly measured – Is it their efforts or results? There are unforeseen factors in sales, unpredictable situations depending upon client’s eco system and their priorities that can lead to orders slipping to the next quarter or getting cancelled or lost to competition. Is it fair to question a sales person’s efficiency in such cases where the effort was more than hundred percent and track record of the sales person only substantiates this was one off case.

To avoid attrition, it is important to measure efforts along with outcomes.  However, having said that, check credibility of the sales resource first – how often is it the same reason for an order loss? He either needs to have a plan B for revenue or another job every quarter. Did the sales training module address that?

Measuring Efforts

The flip side of measuring only efforts – how many leads created, how many proposals sent, how many client relationships built, how many conversions to next level – None of this brings in the real cash home – just a lengthy pipeline and a future of prospects with nothing concrete in hand at the moment. 
Measuring results counts. Again, if a sales resource picks three orders from different accounts worth a million dollar and another closes just one deal for approximately two million dollars – is it fair to measure just revenue (outcome) and not efforts? Stakeholder and expectation management in case of the former order must have been ten times more difficult. Did  you sales training take into account how to precisely measure efforts?

Key Result Area

Ideally sales people’s key result areas should be a combination of several factors. Target revenue every quarter, new client acquisition, efforts put in to create new opportunities and leads. Most sales people do not have a plan B pipeline for every month. The old saying POP: Perform or Perish still holds true. A sales professional’s daily activities are categorized – efforts for today’s order, tomorrow’s order and day after tomorrow’s order – In this manner an order can slip to next week, not next quarter. Yes, I am aware of the rationale and logic behind orders that take months to convert, get the drive – the shift can be from this week to next week, not next year. Expecting last minute changes should be accommodated in sales training

Measuring Achievements

If the sales team is gauged based on short term and long-term achievements – keeping a balance of efforts and outcomes, it will be fair to both the sales professional and the sales lead – to justify cost on sales and the flow of revenue without rigorous vigilance. As the sales resource cannot be singing the past glory always – his action plan automatically gets aligned to the measurement criteria – to address both outcomes achieved and efforts put in. A robust reporting system should capture all of this for MIS and measurement.

Reports carrying time spent with client, writing mails to build client relationship or introducing company, making those important sales calls, wait time before the meeting, traveling to client’s location, preparing reports etc should be discouraged, as if there is no revenue after all this, all of this is child’s play- a very expensive child’s play.

Sales training based on BECKON Model is a thorough assessment of your resources first, before we sign up to change their future in sales. 

This is an edited version of what was originally published by Triond

Friday 27 March 2015

Is Training Entertainment?

There is a whole crowd out there who definitely think training is fun and prolonged entertainment. Fasten your seat belts and fly to a whole new world with the trainer as your host. They have almost the same temperament that one has while going to a movie hall - anticipation and a little excitement. You do not go to a movie to learn something and come back home and apply it. Do you?

That is exactly the point. After training, there is responsibility (shared) and accountability (individual).  The training hours are not your escape route, your break from mundane and routine. It is cost, loss of revenue and you have to translate that learning to achieve outcomes and impact revenue. 

Passenger state of mind

Would you blame the passenger for being so casual about training? If the learning strategy of an organization has no measurement model around training effectiveness, why do they need to know the difference? Let your mind wander till the Learning lead learns to work out something to measure what you really learnt.

Prisoner state of mind

Many attend training out of compulsion. It could be to build their credibility, to be able to negotiate better ratings during appraisal or to add a feather as initiative and use that as a missile during promotion assessment or engaging top talent in any assignment overseas. This prisoner is locked in "What Is In For Me" syndrome

Participatory state of mind

A small percentage is definitely there who genuinely want to learn and will gladly participate, however they are not really concerned about the immediate changes they can do in the work place. How his resume will look after that certification and how can he market it better is his primary interest.

Personal state of mind

It is the participant's personal state of mind, his urge to learn and make a difference that counts most. Are your modules designed to even remotely stir that layer of his mind, to motivate him to change?

As I type "motivate" the trainer is probably searching for that canned module - How to stay motivated - to include it in her workshop calendar. It is not learning team's priority that works, it is the learner's and the surest way to have him captivated is to let him know what Business is expecting him to do after the training. He knows the outcomes he is supposed to deliver, he automatically knows what to focus on and  how much during the training.

Why Is The Training Outsourcing Market Growing So Rapidly?

  • People are assets.
  • Raw talent is huge potential.
Any organization that have been able to identify these two truths, know better how to handle people and transform talent. If they are not the experts in increasing the capability of their people , they are quick to exploit resources who do this quite professionally - outsource the function to the experts. Here are top few reasons why the training outsourcing market is evolving:

1. The traditional approaches to training management is not adding value and is increasingly becoming a huge liability.

2. Training is huge loss of productive hours for those who are attending, if they are billed to client or in anyway involved with direct generation of revenue

3. CFO needs an excel that explains what exactly is return on the training costs. He gets nothing quantifiable except those feedback forms with bright scores.
Image Credit: Web 

I can imagine the next question. CFO: What happens if we invest in their training and they do not deliver and continue to stay?

4. The Learning and Development team is torn between the demands of senior leaders, business heads, project managers and the market trend and end up designing a module that suits the whole crowd and not the one who is learning. This particularly applies for behavioral training.

5. Fresh perspectives and thinking regarding what type of training or courses or methods works best for their people so that there is a perceived difference in outcomes.

6. Training leads after working in a certain way cannot really cope up with this new expectations which is almost an immediate reflection of the fact that internal resources are not competent enough, do not have the required skills and tools like the professional training companies.

7. The use of external training consultants and coaching companies own not just the function but are responsible to achieve a few metrics, provided internal stakeholders are ready to measure those. In most cases the required paradigm shift regarding measurement is yet to gain momentum in large global firms.

8. There is huge cost around training including salary, logistics, membership fees for various portals, external consultants for specific programs and if this whole gamut is taken care by one outsourcing company, it definitely gives bandwidth to focus on core business.

It is back to the same two questions - Do you know the potential of talent that you have in your company and do your realize what great assets they are? The realization will drive you towards outsourcing sooner or later.

Friday 20 March 2015

A Great Presentation Is Just A Great Story

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In business meetings or the CEO’s cabin or in a training room or spiritual sessions – where you have a group of stakeholders or an intelligent audience or a bunch of amateur or spiritual seekers waiting to hear you – that initial part of your presentation governs the consequence. It has to be a great story – people need to hang on your every word. What can you say that can be so compelling? How can you hold on to that attention till the last minute, till the key message is delivered to them?  You have to work on different parts of that story and keep the end result in focus.

 1.     Curiosity approach
When you begin a story, your audience might not have slightest idea why you are talking about what you are talking. For example if you start by mentioning Sri Ramakrishna the nineteenth century saint and his nephew Shibu. One day Shibu said to the leaves that were rustling in the nearby trees: ‘Hush! Hush! I want to catch the grasshoppers.’ Will it make any sense?

That is perhaps the best interest element you can introduce in any presentations – an original story, a great thought and a lasting impact. As you are the only person aware what should be the key takeaway, your plot gets richer with more examples, may be more questions from audience.

2.     Frame the story
This is where your researched inputs will take a form that will help you connect with your audience. Whether you are talking about how technology evolved or someone’s garage company making millions or any rags to riches story or how a young lad caught grasshoppers trying to hush the leaves around – the story has to grow to a point where the audience will be eager to know – What is your point after all?

Shibu was four or five years old and when he saw lightning and heard the clouds, “There, uncle! They’re striking matches again.” He would say. What is so important about Shibu’s childish remarks and observations? It was one of Ramakrishna’s teachings ‘Try to become like a child ’, and he set Shibu’s example to drive a point.

3.     Plan your pitch

There is just one thing more important than how you deliver – how dramatic or how stylish or how convincing becomes relatively insignificant compared to what is it that you are trying to deliver – It is ‘what’ you want your audience to carry forward that determines the ‘how’. Does it help to memorize scripts – it depends how well you manage to sync with it. It might be awkward, if you are staring somewhere in the air trying to recall something you learnt by heart. Well, the heart was not there after all.

So what about our dear Shibu – The little boy truly believed that everything was filled with consciousness – So as we all grow up, with layers of experience and conditioning, that guileless faith is the first thing we lose. No wonder the saint wanted the world to become children again to restore that faith.

4.     Onstage

It is not the looks and the voice of the speaker that matters much. Feel free to work on them – they can be important to make an impression but it is the story that creates an impact. Never let lack of stage presence diffuse your enthusiasm or energy. If you have worked on the first three sections of the story, the response will definitely be positive.

The Tale and Tell technique never fails because you stir the mind in more ways than one. The seamless transition from the origin of the story to where it leads remains with the audience – even after the story is over. So find that one story, merge with all the big data analytics and draw those much needed insights and bring home the point you wanted to.

Reference:  Shibu's story is from 'In Search of Spiritual Values' by Swami Prabhananda

Thursday 5 March 2015

What Kind of Learner Are You?

If you are aware of your learning preferences, you can fine tune your learning mediums and methods accordingly.

What Kind of Learner are You?