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February 2009
Dear subscriber,

January is gone. President Obama is in place, the world economy still is reeling and Slumdog Millionaire is set to make history at the Oscars.

Today, I had one of my staff Surendra, a system analyst email me - his email just said: "The economy is not doing well and I know there maybe several sales challenges. I might be from the IT division but I do want to tell you, I care. Can I volunteer to take a 10% pay cut? It may not be great but it may help. Please do accept my request." I was moved with this email. I declined his offer but I had to tell our team what a great effort it was. He demonstrated a great sense of ownership. Tough times do call for tough actions and a tough resolve. Employees like Surendra do demonstrate that they understand tough times and rise to the occasions.

The Palestinian and the Sri Lankan Tamil crisis have indeed been painful with the many civilian deaths. I guess as Gandhi said in his non-violent philosophy speeches "if an eye for an eye prevails, then the whole world will go blind."

I did decide to spend the Chinese New Year holiday working in Chennai and Trichy, India as Tony Fernandez's Air Asia makes it very affordable. The research team at Chennai tolerated me for a long spell this time.

Let us now look at the E-News.
Palan’s thoughts
The Economy
Learning & Performance: The FUN Factor
Learning & Performance – The Competency connection
Inspiration - Rainbow Creators
World HR events - Asia HRD Congress
SMR News
Palan’s thoughts for the month: Say it like Obama

After all the browsing at the bookstores, I finally bought Shel Leanne's book. Honestly, I did not know much about Obama till I heard him at one of the conventions. His powerful oratory and message of change coupled with congruent body language captivated me.

The book includes Obama's historic acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention and his 2004 speech endorsing John Kerry that propelled him into national fame.

The book details the art of persuasion, the power of presentation and the effective techniques of communication used by Obama. What makes this book different from other books is that it focuses not just on speaking but it includes topics such as Obama earning trust and confidence, breaking down barriers, winning hearts and minds, conveying vision and motivating others to action. It is an easy to read book.

The Economy

It is nervous to talk about the economy. Everyone seems to be predicting gloomy times. According to reports, oil prices have fallen about 72 percent from $147.27 a barrel in mid July. This is largely due to the financial crisis in the U.S. sub-prime mortgage sector that has mushroomed into the worst worldwide economic slowdown in decades. Predictions are for oil to fall to as low as $28 a barrel by the end of the March.

Personal consumption spending is expected to fall and analysts are predicting huge job losses. Retailer Macy's Inc. was the latest company to announce mass layoffs, saying Monday it would slash 7,000 jobs, or 4 percent of its work force, less than a month after announcing it would close 11 stores. Caterpillar Inc., which makes construction equipment has announced that it will lay off another 2,110 employees, in addition to the 20,000 job cuts announced the previous week, and software maker IBM Corp. cut thousands of jobs last month. Consumer spending has fell for a record sixth straight month in as recession-battered households, worried about surging layoffs, boosted their savings rates to the highest level since May.

China has also not been spared and I have had the personal experience of visiting two customers who laid off huge numbers. In the midst of all this gloom, there are bright spots: how can we help employees learn to perform and stay relevant. The ability to stay relevant with a sense of urgency and an execution mentality will separate winners from losers.

Learning & Performance: The FUN Factor

The use of 5 I's can accelerate learning dramatically. Introduce, Involve, Interact, Instruct and Intensify retention are five simple yet powerful tools to energize your learning. My new book 'The Magic of Making Training FUN!’ is now out of the printers and it is available for purchase.

The book is available for a special discount to all the E-News subscribers at a 20% discount off the regular price of US$ 16/-. To order, email grace@smrhrgroup.com

You could also enquire about training programmes with lily@smrhrgroup.com

Learning & Performance - The Competency connection

The War for Talent is over, is it? Kerry Larkan's Winning the Talent War is a good one. Whatever the economic situation maybe, we need to find, train, maximize and reward talent with the single purpose of helping your business perform at its best. Talent Management works best when five elements are closely knit into one another: Recruitment and Talent acquisition, Learning Management, Performance Management, Workforce Planning and Rewards Management. Do email subra@smrhrgroup.com for more information on how you can maximize the performance of your talent. Learn how to stretch your training dollar. Jim Kirkpatrick has some great ideas - jim.kirkpatrick@smr-usa.com

Inspiration - Rainbow Creators

Everyone wants to be happy. Happiness is a problem word just like FUN is. The word happiness or fun often conjures party images of balloons flying up or something trivial and frivolous. The problem is how we measure happiness.

Scientists now claim they can actually measure happiness. Neuroscientists are measuring pleasure. They suggest that happiness is more than a vague concept or mood; it is real. Social scientists measure happiness simply by asking people how happy they are.

Recently, I had the opportunity of meeting Puan Mastura,Vice President, Group HR of Scomi, an Oil and Gas major and she said her goal was to measure the level of happiness of her employees. There is a direct correlation between happiness and employee engagement.

It is argued that what a person says about their own happiness tends to tally with what friends or even strangers might say about them if asked the same question. Most people say they are fairly happy. Now, scientists say governments can judge people's happiness much more easily with new devices. That could be interesting.

Happiness seems to have almost magical properties. While there is no proof, the science suggests it leads to long life, health, resilience and good performance. Scientists work by comparing people's reported happiness and a host of other factors such as age, sex, marital status, religion, health, income, unemployment and so on.

At the moment scientists cannot prove causation, whether for example people are healthy because they are happy, or whether people are happy because they are healthy. However, psychologists have been able to identify some very strong links. According to Professor Diener, the evidence suggests that happy people live longer than depressed people. Apparently, one study reported the difference was nine years between the happiest group and the unhappiest group, so that is a huge effect.

In my book Creating Your Own Rainbow, I have covered this area through the seven principles. Click here for more details at Amazon.com.

World HR events - Asia HRD Congress

The Asia HRD Congress™ is scheduled for May 11 to 13, 2009. The highlights of the event: Erica Fox from Google will speak at the event. Look for a full programme on our website. Early bird discounts are available. Register by end February and get a free E-Book on Performance Management & Measurement - The Asian Context.

SMR News

We now have our consultants working on projects in the USA, Bahrain and U.A.E.

The HR Technology division has released a new product: the Assessment Power along with SMRT E-Reviews. The Consulting team will be running a series of workshops on Talent development in several GCC countries. The Trainers Meet Trainers (TMT)® will be held on Feb. 22 and 23 in Bahrain. The Learning & Development division will be running their International Certificate in Training Practice (CTP) in KL, Malaysia. In the USA, Jim and Don Kirkpatrick will be hosting the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Summit at Training 2009.

To overcome the gloom, we are launching two programmes in KL and Penang, Malaysia with the Penang Skills Development Corporation (PSDC) on SOS Strategies for HR professionals during the downturn.

For more details, email lily@smrhrgroup.com

I will be in touch on March 1st.

Best wishes,
Palan
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