Sunday, November 19, 2017

Training continuum

'Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn'
- Benjamin Franklin

Among all the organizational activities, training is a crucial intellectual on-going process that helps to align organizational members to the vision and mission of a firm, this is in terms of the employee's KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ATTITUDE.

Knowledge is gathered through experience, listening, discussing and reading.  Knowledge is vital as it forms the basis of skills.  For example, knowledge of a product's talking points is the foundation, however, it's application through extempore detailing in a prospect's clinic, and highlighting only the relevant points, is the skill of a 'detailman'.  Application of knowledge in tactical activities for producing the relevant outcome is a person's skill set.

Attitude is 'response behaviour'.  The pharmaceutical and healthcare product market is full of opportunity and challenges, verily, the market is the workplace of a field person, which is aided by the resources provided by his employers.  The attitude of an MR (Medical Representative), determines his involvement in field activity.  This involvement is not only due to his/her behavioural disposition, it is also due to the company's resources, image, MIS system (Management Information System ie., reporting system), and strategy (direction of application of the resources and use of time), AND, finally, VERY MUCH DUE TO the TRAINING system of the company.  Hence, to get productive attitude (response behaviour) of a field marketing person, three main factors are influential:

a) Resources (such as samples, literature, videos and other collaterals, including the complimentaries)
b) Strategy (direction of application of resources and use of time; the planning or blue-print based on which the field person works; and other strategic aspects such as the reporting system etc)
c) Training (system that empowers the field person with internal resources, including knowledge and skill sets for producing required behavioural work outcomes)

The training approach can be broken down into clearly defined steps as shown in above graphic entitled: training continuum.

The training elements present in the training continuum are:

a) Confidence: which is the absence of fear.  This can be a major a stumbling block for the employee or person in his quest to provide his best productive behaviour.  The fears could be: inability to strike conversation with strangers, hesitation to make an enthusiastic sales pitch, or a wave of panic when setting out to meet the high and mighty (example rich, authoritarian and qualified doctors) or other 'gremlins'.  Hence, the company training program should be so designed that it anticipates such fears and helps remove them, to create confidence or fearlessness in the trainee.  Absence of fear energizes the field person.

b) Motivation:  After addressing the fears of a MR or field person, through discussions and training modules, it is vital to give motivation, provide external inputs that he or she is on the right path, aligned with his company and  personal career goals.  This helps him generate enthusiasm since his life-occupational goals are synchronous with that of his employers, and there is all round progress in his life.

c) Guidance: After providing impetus to his morale, one should come to the brasstacks: provide specific guidance on various things that need to be done to gain the knowledge and skills, as per job requirement.

d) Material support: Many activities require suitable collaterals, adequately designed spaces and other paraphernalia (infrastructure).  This ensure training outcomes are delivered.

e) Modelling: is a crucial training exercise.  It is one thing to say how a pitch is to be delivered, and it is another thing to actually demonstrate in-clinic activity, in-stall activity and in-pharmacy activity.  Modelling provides a template for the MR or trainee to execute job activities in his style.  Many a trainer fails to provide sufficient modelling inputs and this can become the training program's Achilles heel.

f) Practice sessions: are the cake of any training session.  After gaining confidence of the trainee, motivating him, giving guidance, ensuring material support and infrastructure, and showing how the job work is to be done... the actual intense sessions start with simulation/practice sessions.  This ensures discipline, skill build-up and supreme confidence.  After all, it is in playing with the football that makes aspirants great players.

g) Evaluation: is the process of transparently measuring progress of a trainee on mutually known parameters.  Evaluation provides the basis for knowing 'where we are' and 'where we should go' creates seriousness and ensures the trainee adapts to training schedules vigorously.

h) Feedback: is a strategic input provided by the trainer to the trainee, this has to be done objectively and the intent is to make the trainee feel comfortable with his progress report.  It is not to humiliate or demotivate.  Feedback also strengthens the sense of purpose in a trainee.

Philosophical closing remarks:

Training programs are crucial events in a trainee's life.  If the seriousness, sense of purpose and utility value are high, the training/learning sessions can be life-transformational events.  Training program experiences have a life-long bearing on the trainee, and the trainee always titrates to his training learnings in future time.  For a trainer it may be a routine or mundane activity of his professional life, but for a trainee, the impact is often humongous, provided the training experience is nonpareil.

In life we are subconsciously or consciously working ceaselessly for strengthening:

a) Self-identity: our occupation, material acquisitions, academic qualifications, knowledge level, skill sets, relationships (including marital and with relatives/family members) and other socio-materialistic procurements are meaningless if they do not in some way or the other add to our self-identity.  We value most of those things that strengthen our self-esteem and self-identity.

Imagine the hardwork, risk, concentration and 'joyful pains' the Haryanvi medical student Ms. Manushi Chhillar has undergone to obtain the Ms. World 2017 title in Sanya, China.  This drive of Ms. Chhillar is probably related to her youthful need to obtain maximum self-identity.  It is human to feel great when one's identity is reinforced.

Above foto from here (please click)

b) Self-realization: is about going beyond self-identity and working for self-realization (God realization).  It is about understanding the importance of non-materialistic non-Earthly pursuits of life.  Self -realization refers to the spiritual basis of one's life.  One is empty if there are no spiritual activities and goals.

The foundational feeling is absence of fear (ie., confidence) for pursuing goals related to self-identity and self-realization.  Presence of fear retards or halts progress in above two dimensions of the life continuum.  Hence, in the book: SONG OF THE DIVINE (Bhagavad Gita), the guide Lord Krishna reiterates that the first trait of an ideal man is ABSENCE OF FEAR.  So be confident, but do not throw caution to the winds, in your goals of life!

I wish each reader of this blog ALL THE BEST in his journey of self-identity and self-realization goals.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, kindly go through all other blogposts, and please recommend this blogpost to your colleagues.