It is holiday time, one year has gone by and another year is about to begin.

This was the month when I had several invitations to attend weddings and a very pleasant social trip to China. While this was my third trip to mainland China, it was one of those rare trips when I had no business agenda. My wife and I visited several small towns. The mainland Chinese entrepreneurial spirit and enterprise was evident and laudable. The trip helped me understand the competencies of the Chinese workforce and how they have converted that to a competitive edge over other nations.

The economic crisis is serious with alarming job losses. In some ways, I have also been worried over the economic trends.

Now to the E-News:
The mainland Chinese and Competency Management
Employee engagement during economic crisis
The Outliers
SMRT E-Appraisal
Asia HRD Congress and SMR Group News
The mainland Chinese and Competency Management

Understanding the social fabric of the Chinese community in the People’s Republic of China is a pre requisite to figure out the competitive edge they have over others in the economic world today. During the two week social trip to rural China, I found several competencies demonstrated continuously - the attention to detail, willingness to follow leadership, a fierce service orientation, a bias for action and initiative. For a country that emerged out of communist economic system only about 35 years ago, the entrepreneurial spirit and patriotism demonstrated was amazing. While I could not help feeling that the communist system did inculcate some of the competencies, these competencies are very much part of society. It is also worthwhile to remember the newer generation hardly remembered the communist life yet they are part of the workforce that demonstrated these competencies. When these competencies are being demonstrated on an everyday basis with a clear focus, you can see performance in action - results, employee engagement and success.

At the wedding of colleague Rajoo’s daughter, I had the pleasure of meeting long time mentor Dr. Ismail Noor. He shared with me Quincy Adam’s quote - when you can inspire a person to aspire to do what is needed and to become a person they want to be, then you are a true leader. Deng Xiaoping certainly inspired a large population to achieve their potential.
Employee engagement during economic crisis – take a survey

It is real ugly with the job loss figures getting alarming. How do we engage employees at a time like this? How do we get positive psychology into the workplace? Can we get people to be happy and enjoy their work? Can we move them from TGIF to TGIM (Thank God, it is Friday to Thank God, it is Monday). “Happiness is a way of life - an overriding outlook composed of qualities such as optimism, courage, love and fulfillment.” The goal is to enjoy every day irrespective of what the challenges are. The people that I met in China were certainly happy and enjoyed doing what they did. The goal is to focus on positives in a negative world and in negative times like these to build greater motivation and employee engagement. This morning, I asked a group of young executives to visualize the “end in mind.” I asked them to complete the statement, I want to be …. Some of them were clear; they could really describe the visual picture in their heads. They showed their desire to be what they wanted to be.

I have attached an online survey to figure out your level of employee engagement. Visit

I will publish the results in the next E-News. If you wish to implement in your organisation an employee engagement survey, do email

The Outliers

I just finished reading the outstanding book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The Wikipedia says that in statistics, an outlier is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data. Malcolm Gladwell says “I write books when I find myself returning again and again, in my mind, to the same themes. I wrote Tipping Point because I was fascinated by the sudden drop in crime in New York City - and that fascination grew to an interest in the whole idea of epidemics and epidemic processes. I wrote Blink because I began to get obsessed, in the same way, with the way that all of us seem to make up our minds about other people in an instant - without really doing any real thinking. In the case of Outliers, the book grew out a frustration I found myself having with the way we explain the careers of really successful people. You know how you hear someone say of Bill Gates or some rock star or some other outlier - "they're really smart," or "they're really ambitious?' Well, I know lots of people who are really smart and really ambitious, and they aren't worth 60 billion dollars. It struck me that our understanding of success was really crude - and there was an opportunity to dig down and come up with a better set of explanations.”

Visit my bookshelf at Shelfari
SMRT E-Appraisal

As we get into the last quarter 2008, appraisals are on everyone’s mind. When well done, the appraisal or review process becomes highly motivating. Research reports indicate over 60% of organizations either use paper based or complicated systems to manage their appraisals.

At SMR, we have a new online version - the SMRT E-Appraisal for you. Look at it, see how simple it is. You can make your appraisals process easy and automated - literally a simple 3 steps process! I like to invite you to visit Sign up for FREE and see how you like it. For more details on how you can use E-Appraisal in your organization free of cost, please contact
Asia HRD Congress and SMR Group News

We have been working hard to make the Asia HRD Congress™ 2009 a success. Visit our website

I will be in touch next month.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Best wishes,
December 2008
SMRT E-Appraisal - A Strategic Work Performance Tool

Asia HRD Congress 2009

SMR's Upcoming Training Programmes

SMR e-Store
HRD related products and services are available for online purchase here. »

E-News Archives
Feel free to read our past Learn & Perform E-News - written monthly by Dr. Palan from 1998. Archives of selected months available.»
Copyright © 2008 SMR Technologies Berhad.