Training really matters
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - June 27, 2020 - 12:00am

Do you remember the “times of old,” meaning the pre-COVID era when it was so hard to have people change behavior as you embark on a program of innovation? Consider the migration of your business system or the institution of change and the all-famous “Go Digital Transformation” programs? These change initiatives were met with tremendous resistance. Consultants were brought in, incentives were offered, but there was little progress. Notice how suddenly people can change because a tiny virus has brought the whole business and economy to a grinding halt? No complaints, just compliance. No resistance, but adherence.

And now I would like you to see the picture of what is happening. Overnight, you and I must change our behaviors and actions. And as hard as this is for me to admit, our appearances have changed too. When was wearing masks appealing? But now we wear masks. When was social distancing acceptable in the past, but now we feel weird when we see people not standing apart in lines. Our way of doing things and our behavioral changes in response to COVID-19 may be the blueprint for the long-term.

And now, I would like you to think about what this crisis has forced your people to change their ways and actions almost overnight. There was a lot of fear and anxiety about how these changes could be implemented. But now that we are months since the lockdown and some businesses have opened, we slowly realize that these new ways of working could indicate that they might be the pattern for the long-term. The containment phase of the crisis is gradually receding. While it is reasonable that remote work will be the norm, we may also expect it to fade. Still, there is an intense need for companies to retool and retrain their people towards working in the new environment.

Business organizations will have to quickly figure out how to match workers to new roles and activities. Rapid changing conditions and business work requirements go beyond just remote work, but also expect an increase in usage and application of artificial intelligence and automation.

Adding to this is the need to train people in soft skills and equip them with the resilience to operate in an almost-all-new environment. HR and L&D people will have to double-time on developing their people’s critical cognitive and digital skills. At the same time, train, equip them with social, emotional, and providing them to be adaptable and resilient with so many new things happening. The work is tremendous and will not be easy.

The sales force would most likely shift to more video meetings and presentations. Add to this is the necessity of managing customer relationships from a distance. What about leadership? How could managers lead their teams virtually when the possibility of building relationships through informal coffee, lunch, or activities are nil for the moment? These require new skills. What about the mindset of people who would feel and experience the stress of learning new skills and being overwhelmed with the demands placed upon them brought about by the new environment? How do we encourage and inspire them to do their best and deliver their best?

The road to recovery will not be easy. But to retool and to retrain our people is a must. The training budget has to be protected. Leaving the people to learn and adapt on their own will only make business recovery slow and almost impossible. We do not just want to have our people weather the storm and go back to “Business as Usual” because it will never be. We want our people to have the ability to manage ambiguity, develop adaptability, and possessing the resilience to meet challenges and difficulties.

History of past crises would indicate that business organizations that did not abandon their training turned out to be at a better place than competitors during business recovery. And this positions them to explore new opportunities for further growth and stability. Here is the gist of it. While others are not training, and you are. Then you would be in a better place.

(Bring your family, attend and take part in a live webinar via Zoom this July 8-9, “Raising Future Leaders - Values, Virtues and Attitude with Chinkee Tan, Nove Tan and Francis Kong as they present winning ideas on Money Management, Online Education and Life Skills for Success. For further inquiries or registration email: or contact April at 0928-559-1798 or Abby at 0917-533-6817.

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