Another year has gone. 2008 is here. Let me wish all of you all the best for a productive and prosperous New Year.

The month of December was an unusual one for me. A relaxing retreat at Desaru Golden Beach Resort in Malaysia with the staff and then a family holiday in Phuket, Thailand without access to my new Blackberry mobile phone cum wireless email system is not the usual Palan. Well, I did that and did the youngster’s stuff like parasailing, jet skiing, go-karting, and archery with the family. It was indeed all fun. Vacationing is not part of Asian society as much as it is in the western society but that has certainly changed over the last few years. It certainly left me a lot more relaxed. I hope all of you enjoyed the holidays and are all charged up for the challenges that 2008 may throw at us.

Now to the E-News:

Change – are emails obsolete?
Learning and Performance – the FUN Factor
Learning and Performance – the Performance Factor
Inspiration starts with you – Rainbow Creators
SMR Group News
Change – are emails obsolete?

The article in the Tech News of the Star newspaper intrigued me. The email is getting the boot for being too formal and slow. Person to person communication is being dominated by SMS and instant messaging, which are becoming the writing tools of choice in the world that is increasingly emphasizing instant responses. Apparently, in South Korea, the crystal ball of all of our digital tomorrow, one report states that young people have completely stopped using email saying it is for old people. The email is seen as a 90’s tool. The email is seen as a bother - a difficulty of finding out whether the recipient has received the email, the lack of immediate response and concerns about privacy are all contributing to the end of the email era. There are even signs that this is happening in the United States that is a leader in e-mail and wireless e-mail and a laggard in mobile.

Business use of email however is predicted to grow. So, I am sure we all have to become accustomed to bigger in boxes and more spam. Another article says almost 95% of email is spam. The spam war is a continuous battle between spammers and security vendors.

My experience with emails started in late 1994 and I first started using Hotmail to access emails when travelling in late 1997. Since then, emails have become a part of my life. SMS or texting were recent additions to my life. I have only used it since 2003. While it has also taken over my life now, I have still managed to keep instant messaging to a need basis only.

I have recently learned some time management tips on managing emails and SMS from my executive assistant Ms. Gaik and my Vice President Robert Lim. They recommend the checking of emails once a day and responding to SMS based on the importance of the text message.
Learning and Performance – the FUN Factor

Using laughter to support learning is not new. John Cleese, the famous actor pioneered the use of humour in corporate training videos nearly four decades ago. Madan Kataria, the laughter guru pioneered the use of laughing for no reason. Humour in training and business presentations is becoming increasingly valued as it ensures attention of the participants. Using humour in your sessions is a skill. In our sessions we use the concept of frames. Frames helps you use and reuse the joke in different situations. Over a period of time you learn how to think on your feet spontaneously and that ignites humour. Great sessions are those that have spontaneity. When the sessions are light hearted and spontaneous, the result of the training is awesome. For more details, please visit http://groups.google.com/group/FUNlearning.
Learning and Performance – the Performance Factor

It is appraisal time for most organisations. Annual Performance Appraisals have always had mixed reviews. Managers do not like it because of the time consuming process and employees do not like it because of its perceived unfairness. The entire exercise loses the original intention of improving employee learning and performance and becomes a dreaded process.

In a survey by New York based On Point Consulting, only slightly over 40% of line managers and HR Managers think there is value in a performance management process. While the tool by itself might be useful, the prevailing culture in an organisation is critical for its success. More so, the performance factors used in a form needs to be relevant to the organisation. It cannot be a cut and paste of forms used elsewhere.

One way to improve is not to just do the annual appraisal but schedule quarterly meetings to discuss performance and make the meeting a feedback event. This requires managers to be coached.

A successful performance management system should help employees build their skills and competencies, is consistently applied across the organisation, uses a rating scale that enables differentiation of performance, helps to build a performance culture, provides data for succession planning and drives leadership development initiatives.

For more details, do visit http://drpalan.blogspot.com.
Inspiration starts with you – Rainbow Creators

I have just seen the Forbes rich list. While I do not subscribe to rich = happy, the interesting thing about this list is that most of them are not inherited but self made. The Forbes list has published the richest people in the United States of America and other countries. Do you know that nearly 90% in the top 40 are self made millionaires? They did not inherit but worked their way up including Bill Gates of Microsoft. Bill Gates might be hated for his wealth and monopolistic tendency but no one can deny the impact that his business has on everyday life. I do not believe that Rainbow Creation is only about Wealth Creation. It is about a purpose in life, it is about SELF. It is about making a disproportionate contribution to society. Rainbow Creators are those who are focused on making things happen while Rainbow Chasers are those who look for the “if only” factor.

For more details, do visit http://creatingyourownrainbow.blogspot.com.
SMR Group News

Jim Kirkpatrick, our Vice President, Global Training & Consulting, SMR USA travelled to several countries in 2007 – Russia, United Arab Emirates, France, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia to drive home the message of business partnership between training/learning and business. We are also hosting the conference within a conference at the Training Magazine’s Annual Conference 2008 at Atlanta, USA. For more details, please visit http://www.trainingconference.com/learninggroup/training/top100_program.jsp.

The Learning & Development and Consulting teams in Malaysia and Singapore were very active too. We will be hosting the International Certificate in Training Practice programme in January 2008. The Accredited Training Programme will also be run in several locations. The first Master Training Professional is being scheduled for May 2008.

The Consulting & Outsourcing team has been equally busy with projects in several parts of the world.

The HRDPower™ team is ready to release the next version of HRDPower™ in January 2008.

The Asia HRD Congress 2008 is all set for Jakarta in partnership with PPM, Indonesia. The Asia HRD Congress team welcomes speaker proposals and partner delegations.

For more information of our activities, please email gaik@smrhrd.com.

Have a great New Year and all the best for a prosperous and successful 2008.

Best wishes,
Palan
January 2008
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