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 It's the time of the season to review and map out the Annual Training Plans (again), and some Training Managers may be required to justify how effective are the training programmes that had been rolled out year after year.


In terms of the economy, while we expect some economic recovery in the US as well as in Asia, companies are still prudent with their expenditure.  As a result, Training Managers will be hard-pressed yet again to justify training effectiveness, with very limited resources.


Hence, this month's topics:

  1. How to Achieve Greater Training Results @ Lower Costs & Little Resources; and

  2. What Makes Great Listening So Difficult?

This issue's main article is on "How to Achieve Greater Training Results @ Lower Costs & Limited Resources", and we will share with you some insights and case studies of how some Training Managers manage to achieve greater training results at lower costs.


In brief:

  • Why Training Managers have to focus on what behaviours the trainees need to change, and what behaviours they need to change into;

  • What is the biggest component of training costs, and what you need to do to reduce that cost;

  • Why having less training can sometimes deliver better training results and business performance, than having lots of training.  Read on... ...

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If case you are facing budget-cuts in your leadership and soft-skills training, we have 40 highly affordable eLearning modules that you can offer to your staff and colleagues. Click here to find out more, or e-mail for more details.


Also, if you're exploring ways on how you can polish your facilitation skills, check out this Facilitating Learning from Experience workshop by Roger Greenaway (the trainer who trained IWNC, a pioneer in Experiential Learning) from 14-17 May 2013 in Shanghai, China.  Contact to get special early-bird offers.

How to Achieve Greater Training Results @ Lower Costs & Limited Resources

by c.j. Ng


Stefanie received some good news, and some bad ones from her boss.


Being the Training Manager of an international company, Stefanie is generally in charge of the administration of training plans, which she then outsourced the training to external training providers to implement the training.  At the same time, Stefanie also conducts some of those training herself.


Now, Stefanie's company is allocating her some budget to arrange for some "advanced training programmes" for her company's high-potential employees, or Hi-Pos.  The said objective of these advanced training programmes is to provide "advanced topics" that will adequately prepare the hi-pos for their future jobs.  Since the company places substantial emphasis on Hi-Pos, the management expects the training to be effective, and would like Stefanie be responsible for training effectiveness.


While Stefanie is happy that her company is allocating more budgets for her department, she found herself caught in a kind of dilemma in the following ways:

  1. The current training programmes are already quite comprehensive covering topics such as Communication Skills, Emotional Intelligence, Management Skills etc., and hence putting together a series of "Advanced Training Topics" that do not overlap with the existing programmes will not be easy;

  2. While there is additional budget, it may not be sufficient to cover the expected number of training hours required by the Hi-Pos' programme.


Nevertheless, Stefanie would have to figure out how best she can balance and fulfil the needs of her management and the Hi-Pos, with limited budget and resources.  She will also have to make sure that the Hi-Pos find the new training useful to their work, and not be bored with rehashes of the existing training programmes.


The Purpose of Training

Before we decide what training, perhaps we need to ask ourselves "why training".  In short, the purpose of training is to enable trainees change a less productive behaviour into a more productive behaviour.  This is based on the Level 3 of Kirkpatrick's 4 Levels of Training Effectiveness:
  1. Reaction - what participants thought and felt about the training (training satisfaction)
  2. Learning - the resulting increase in knowledge and/or skills, and change in attitudes.  This evaluation occurs during the training in the form of either a knowledge demonstration or test.
  3. Behaviour - transfer of knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes from classroom to the job (change in job behaviour due to training programme).  Evaluation usually occurs through observation.
  4. Results - the final results that occurred because of attendance and participation in a training program (can be monetary, performance-based, etc.)
Hence, before deciding on what topic is required for a training programme, perhaps the Training Manager could find out what behaviours need to be changed, and what behaviours they need to change into.  The Training Manager could get inputs by asking what are the strengths as well as areas of improvements from their trainees and their supervisors.
Like many other Training Managers, Stefanie made a survey with her targeted trainees to assess their training needs.  Unlike other Training Managers though, instead of asking what training topics they would like to be trained, she asked them what new skills they need to have in order to do a better job in the near future.
While most of the responses fall within the framework of her existing training (e.g. Communication Skills, Leadership Skills etc.), the specific responses allowed Stefanie to zoom in and focus on specific situations that the trainees can apply their new skills, such as How to Communicate and Resolve Conflicts with Other Departments, How to Motivate Talented People with Bad Attitude etc.)

Reducing the Costs of Training


Training fees are not cheap.  In any case, most companies wouldn't just want to buy training, just because the training is the lowest priced in the market. 


However, the biggest component of training costs is NOT the training fee.  Rather, it is the Opportunity Costs of the trainees that could make up the the biggest cost component in training.  With some research claiming that as high as 87% of the training will be forgotten or lost after 1 month from the training, this Opportunity Cost can be extremely high.


In Stefanie's case, let's assume that each Hi-Po is currently paid US$4,000 per month.  The company would be expecting a productivity contribution of 3 times that salary, i.e. the company would like the employee to contribute US$12,000 of productivity each month.


If each Hi-Po spend 2 days training, he is depriving the company US$1,200 in productive contribution for those 2 days (assuming a 20-day work week).  If a class has 20 of such trainees, the Opportunity Costs to the company can be as high as US$24,000.  The training fees of a 2-day training workshop may not even be half of this Opportunity Cost.


While there could be positive side effects of training such as creating a sense of community improved employee engagement and motivation, such trade-on benefits may still not be sufficient to justify the high Opportunity Costs.


Hence, if trainees don't find the training practical, or don't apply what was learnt, then it could lead to massive wastages for the company.  On the other hand, if the adult learners could apply the training to their work, they will be motivated to learn and apply.


In Stefanie's case, she knows that adult learners are most motivated to learn and apply IF the training is going to help them solve problems they encounter at work.  In the case of the suggested training fo the Hi-Pos, she made sure that the training provider was able to customise case studies based on actual work challenges.  Such case studies would then be used in discussions, role plays and other activities during the training, which will then motivate the trainees to use the training help them solve day-to-day work challenges.


In addition, Stefanie also implemented a series of tests or assessments one month after each training session.  These tests will reinforce the training content, so that the trainees can recall more of those contents. 


To make the training even livelier, Stefanie got more participation from her Hi-Pos as some of the role plays and demos are acted out as skits, and then video-recorded (using modified video cameras such as the iPhones and iPads), edited and finally posted onto the company's internal web site.  It was a way for the trainees to laugh at themselves, while also making sure they learnt something as well.


Are You Having Too Much Training?


Surprisingly, some companies are actually suffering from too much training.  For instance, some companies spend a whole month in closed-door orientation training for new hires, away from the office.  Some other companies force-feed their managers 1 day of training for every 4 working days.


Some of the reasons for over-training could be:

  • Training Managers wanting to spend all the allocated training budget;

  • Training Managers being asked to clock a certain number of training days or training hours per month; and/ or

  • Training Managers simply filling in the training programmes based on the feedback from trainees about what training topics they want, as opposed to what skill areas they need to improve upon.

Given the current uncertain economic outlook, many Training Managers will be put under pressure to do more with less.


So here's the rule about training for Training Managers:  It's much better to have 1 programme that is well-implemented and trainees actually get to implement most of what is taught, rather than have 10 programmes just for the sake of clocking the required training hours.


In Stefanie's case, no doubt the Hi-Pos will feel appreciated if they were to be given regular training sessions that will somehow help them in their work.  After all, Stefanie is working in a company that could still afford such "luxury".  However, Stefanie will have to make a prioritised list of what are the must-haves and nice-to-haves, just in case budgets get cut in future.


Need help in ensuring that you achieve greater training results @ lower costs and limited resources? Simply e-mail info@directions-consulting.comm or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001

Power Breakfast Hour: 5 Mar 2013

How to Achieve Greater Training Results @ Lower Costs & Limited Resources

  • Despite having conducted numerous trainings, why 87% of the learning will still be forgotten after 1 month;

  • Avoid the mistakes made in gathering training needs, and how you can achieve greater training needs in simple yet practical ways;

  • How to achieve the same or greater level of training effectiveness with shorter or lesser training;

  • How to implement training plans that will guarantee your success; and

  • How to gain buy-in from all department heads that will ensure a smooth implementation for your training plan


VENUE: Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 • 番禺路 400 号 (靠法华镇路)

DATE: Wednesday, 20 Feb 2013

TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.




To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to


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Tips for Managers:

What Makes Great Listening So Difficult?

Q&A with Mark Murphy

Founder and CEO, Leadership IQ


Q: Listening seems like it should be so simple, yet the average person retains only 10% of what they hear. What makes great listening so hard?


MM: Great listening requires a lot more than nodding your head and going “Uh huh. Wow, that’s interesting.” There’s actually a whole way of thinking we need to embrace about the information that’s coming at us. And that involves how we can parse it all out, dissect it into its component parts and then probe for more information. Also, we need to make sure we’re not getting fixated on unimportant information; that we’re not letting our emotional buttons get pushed such that we can’t hear the real kernel of the message that is coming at us.

In the world of management and work, not everything we hear has equal importance, so we need to know what we are listening for. Because there are some things we hear, certain words, for example, that can set us off and cause us to miss some of the really important stuff that we do need to hear.

The challenges of great listening are plenty. But if we gain the skills, and a deeper understanding of how it all works, so we can then identify and key into what is absolutely important and relevant for us to hear, great listening is absolutely possible. Anyone can do it, but you have to want to do it.


Q: What do you mean when you say we need to key into the important parts of a conversation?


MM: Here’s one example of how it works. Let’s say we’re in a situation where an employee is uncorking on us a little bit. Maybe they want to talk about a project we assigned them that’s not going well and maybe they are little (or a lot) upset. They are using emotional language and it’s subjective, and even a little negative. Other than letting them unload, we think there’s not a ton of value in listening to what’s being said. But the thing is, as difficult as that may be to listen to, there may be a really important nugget of information that we really do need to hear. Something that is going to clue us in to what this person needs so they can go fix the error, or avoid having it happen again. And yet, we’re not hearing it because we’re fixated on all of the other stuff; the distraction. So we need to have a listening model that allows us to separate the stuff we do need to hear from all the rest. We need a way to remove the emotional element and just get to the facts in order to help this person find the right solution.

At Leadership IQ we teach the FIRE model which allows us to separate the Facts from the Interpretations, Reactions and Ends. Because it’s in the facts that we are going to find that one nugget of really good information we need. The FIRE model allows us to compartmentalize all these other pieces and say, “I just got some tough feedback, but there are some good facts here. There are things I need to listen to, so I need to compartmentalize some of this other stuff I’m hearing so what I am really focusing in on is the facts.” And until we have a listening model that lets us separate it all appropriately, great listening is very hard to do.


Q: How can we know if we got all the facts?


MM: First we need to know how to probe deep to get past all the superficial stuff so we are only focused on the facts we need. And there different kinds of probes, like factual and direct probes or emotional and indirect probes. The situation and the comfort level that’s present basically directs the kind of probe you use. For example, indirect probes are best in helping circumvent defenses when you think someone’s guard is up. But once you probe down to the facts, and you are no longer dealing with interpretations, reactions and ends, there’s actually a very simple checklist you can mentally run through to make sure you are collecting adequate facts. It’s the same basic checklist used for all information gathering: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

The first step is to get the conversation focused on just the facts and you can do this by doing the “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How” assessment in your mind where you say: “Okay, well, first, who: do I know who was involved. Okay, yup. I got that. Do I know what they were talking about? What actually happened? Okay, got that. Do I know when it happened? Do I know where it happened? And then, am I making assumptions based on these things or do I actually know why it happened? Do I know what precipitated this? And do I know how it happened?” It takes a bit of practice, but after a while it just happens naturally so you are always thinking about the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of your conversations and that alone will make you a much better listener.

To learn how to keep your own emotions in check when listening to someone is making you agitated, attend our webinar Lead by Listening.


To find out how you be a great listener and 39 other eLearning topics by Leadership IQ, you can e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001


About Directions Management Consulting


Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia. LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.


In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia. is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.


Raybattle is the strategic partner of Directions Management Consulting specialising in experiential learning events and management retreats.


Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as InterContinental Hotels Group, Unilever, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Freudenberg etc.


Through collaboration with consultancies such as Forum Corporation, MTI, de Bono China, ProWay etc., the consultants in Directions Management Consulting have served clients such as PwC, Air Products, Evonik, Wacker, Epson amongst others.


Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.


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