Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Evolving job roles in the service industry may require a stronger commitment towards training.

The last couple of decades have seen significant development and growth in the Malaysian economy, with one of the most notable variations being the swing towards more service oriented industries. With the advent of a more service and knowledge-based economy, however, comes a shifting trend towards training needs.

Manufacturing sector style methodologies don’t cut it anymore

In the past, companies used to focus on raising the efficiency of their workers through various means such as specific job or task training or rotating tasks between employees, amongst others. This was especially evident (and perhaps even effective) in the manufacturing sector.

But modern employees are no longer just a single gear in a long chain of processes, where each employee is as dispensable as the next. Now, employees individually play more significant roles in the overall performance of an organisation. And as they become greater specialists in their particular roles, each employee is becoming more significant and less dispensable.

For example, an employee with 10 years of experience on a manufacturing chain could likely be effectively replaced by a new employee after a week of training. The same could not be said of an employee with 10 years sales experience in a particular organisation!

Hiring the right executive is becoming as important as hiring the right CEO

Companies are starting to not only measure the value and yield of each employee, but also of each department within the organisation. Catchphrases such as ‘profit centres’, ‘cost centres’ and ‘KPIs’ and being mercilessly bandied about in this new performance based environment.

And with this increase in responsibility and roles for each individual in the company, it is no wonder that employers are placing more and more emphasis on hiring the right individuals for the job. But getting the right person, however crucial, is only half the task.

In such a competitive environment, employers need their employees to be enthusiastic, proactive, result-driven, independent, motivated and constantly adding value to their work. In other words…

Employers need employees to start thinking like business partners

This is easier said than done. There is a colossal difference in competency between what an employee can do and what he or she must do as business partners. The knowledge, the experience and perhaps even the motivation simply isn’t there.

A retail store assistant or a customer service representative simply isn’t going to display the same business acumen or think on the same corporate wavelength as a promotions manager or a customer service department manager.

That doesn’t, however, mean that they can’t be trained to do so. Companies who successfully bridge this wavelength and competency gap between their principal and general staff stand to benefit greatly from the added proficiency of their organisations as a whole.

And therein lies the challenge. The old school half-day training workshops are simply not designed to bring about the shift in thinking or aptitude that is required. They do not provide sufficient information and their effectiveness is not easily measured. Above all, such off-the-shelf training modules are too generalised and may not emphasise on the right mix of skill-sets needed for each unique organisation.

At most, they provide a short term solution to increased productivity or motivation, if that. Given this, many companies are recognising the importance for increased commitment towards truly-effective long term training solutions.

Enter training partners with tailor made solutions

Organisations now need a reliable training partner more than ad-hoc training providers or one-off seminars. One who is able to understand the varying and specific needs of each distinct organisation, ascertain the given situation and then apply the given parameters to an appropriate framework (such as the BOS Four Actions Framework) to generate a training programme or module that directly addresses each company’s needs.

With a training partner, emphasis can also be placed on appropriate assessment criteria. After all, each industry would have varying prerequisites and rely on different abilities and talents. Thus, assessment methods should ideally be designed together with the client’s input to ensure only the skill sets that each organisation feels is relevant is tested for.

By placing greater weight on an appropriate and long-term training curriculum, companies can look forward to employees who are more motivated, appreciative and competent, and who feel like they have more of a vested interest in their organisation. In time, they may just stop thinking like employees, and more like business partners.

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