December 2, 2008

Challenges for Training function & Trainer’s Role in Global Recession


A talk by Dr. M.B. Athreya

Training Needs in a Recession Scenario—

• Strategising for slowdown:
Companies need to evolve a strategy to slowdown their growth in the same manner as they would have planned for robust growth. The market trends may put a real squeeze on the survival of the company and hence a strategy for slowdown is an absolute necessity.


• Rightsizing for survival:
Most of us have heard the terms downsizing, but do not mistake rightsizing for downsizing. While downsizing may be an absolute cut-down of manpower, many a time without much a thought to the aftermath of it, but rightsizing is a much more thoughtful and strategized action with a retention plan for high performers which ensures that an organization has optimized its manpower to see it through the recession times.


• Cost reduction:
The focus of organizations will be great on reducing costs, and training may be one of the functions where budgets may get impacted majorly. Gone will be days when few days of training meant a nice vacation in a hill station or a swanky hotel. The training function also needs to look at this aspect seriously and assist the organization to reduce costs significantly wherever possible by cutting down on the frills associated with training.


• Retention Marketing:
Various market trends and the social disturbances like terrorism attacks have also influenced the consumer buying behaviour, and it’s clearly emerging that companies will have to focus on retention marketing. The focus here is going to be mostly on retaining a customer even if the margins earned are lesser.


• Flexibility for upturn:
In all the various HR measures to the see the organization through the pressures of global recession, the organization with a strategy and action plan for slowdown can retain the flexibility and muscle to revive and take an upturn when market show a positive trend. Organizations must not become so lean and weak in terms of market image that they have lost the ability to take an upturn when trends seem to change.


Trainers’ Role—


• Proactive alert to top management:
Trainer’s role takes precedence when there’s an action plan proactively presented to the management. Training managers must be able to foresee the impact on the organization in the coming times and identify areas where the function can significantly contribute to the sustainability of the organization.


• Mobilising all employees & Create awareness of the big crisis:
With tough times in the economy, and organizations across making different moves, there’s certainly an unrest that creeps into the employees mindset. Therefore, it’s very necessary to create awareness among employees about the recession, it’s impact and the uncertainties anticipated in the near future.


• Low-cost Training & Instant use of the Learning:
A lot of debates have happened on this significant area in the training function - Measuring the results and the transfer of learning onto the job, but in tough times like recession, it’s time to exhibit the results in a more visible manner, and focus on the instant use of learning acquired from various training initiatives.


Action Plan for Training Managers —

• Prepare a recession training plan:
Just as the organization needs to strategize for slowdown, even the function needs to draft a recession training plan to ensure that the function is aligned with organizational objectives and strategy for a given period of time.


• Note/Presentation to Top Management:
A presentation may be given to the top management with the recession training plan to keep the chief executives informed and also to get their perspective and optimize the recession training plan.


• Train mostly with internal resources:
Well focus on cost reduction certainly points out to identifying talent within the organization that can be used as internal trainers or training resources by selecting individuals from various functions and engagements and utilizing them aptly.

• Select external expertise:
External resources always bring in a thought from the world around, and share the best practices from various other organizations, so wherever required, external expertise needs to be employed for training.


• Real time measurement of results:
“The market will discipline the industry”, an expert spoke. It’s time to buckle up tight for the ride where questions on the result of trainings and return of investment will be plenty. The measurement mechanisms of training function also better be in place to justify the same!


Profile of the Speaker:
Dr. Mrithyunjay Athreya (M.B. Athreya) is a Management Advisor of great international repute. He has a doctorate in Business Administration from Harvard Business School, USA besides being a Gold Medallist in Cost Accountancy. He taught at Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, London Business School, and Scottish Business School. He has been Director on many corporate boards. He has acted as Chairman and Member of many Government Policy Committees. Particular mention may be made of Athreya Committee on Telecom Sector, which paved the way for Telecom Revolution of last fifteen years.
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