Stars of the workplace are taught to shine
In an effort to increase competitiveness, many organisations dedicate much time and effort to ensure that staff are ready to face the ever-changing business environment.
One such organisation is the Trade Development Council (TDC), which has taken an active role in developing up-to-date training programmes for its employees.
Connecting millions of international buyers and sellers, with trade shows, an online marketplace, product magazines and top-flight training and seminars, the TDC offers tailored business-matching services for small and medium-sized enterprises.
The organisation is dedicated to supporting the continuous training and development needs of its 800 employees through different schemes.
One is the staff training and refinement (Star) scheme, which began in January 2006 and is made available to all staff in all eight departments. 'Every organisation has its stars,' wrote executive director Fred Lam in a message to his staff about the Star scheme. 'Some stars shine naturally. Others need a little coaxing and polishing to bring out their true sparkle.'
The scheme aims to help staff align with the company's core values, to increase their effectiveness and performance, bringing them close to their career goals.
Sandra Au Yeung, manager of training and development, has witnessed the changes during her 17 years with the TDC. From outsourcing and purchasing suitable programmes from the market, to developing the TDC's own training programmes, she heads the team to run as many as 100 classroom courses each year.
She has also launched the e-learning platform which offers up to 43 different courses for staff.
'In this kind of business environment where customers are knowledgeable and things are happening fast, we cannot just sit here and be passive anymore. We need to be proactive and align our services with the market needs and the needs of our customers,' she said.
Knowing how training can take an important role in refining staff quality, Ms Au Yeung also harnessed the value of internal knowledge sharing.
Knowing the market trends is crucial for the TDC which provides an up-to-date platform for companies. In recent years, it launched various events that focused on business and market trends. One of them is the wine industry, which will be showcased in a wine exhibition in August this year. As part of the Star scheme, staff will be trained and kept abreast of the latest market trends in the wine industry. A wine tasting event will also be arranged for interested staff, who will learn from wine experts.
In the Star scheme, each colleague is required to receive training of between three days and two weeks. The comprehensive scheme includes seven broad areas: induction and core values; core competencies training; functional training; IMEC (industry, market, expert and corporate update); external seminars and conferences; continuing education; and e-learning and library resources.
Some courses, such as the induction and core values, are mandatory while others are based on individual needs. Any staff member is entitled to apply for a course.
Before attending the course, participants need to understand the objectives. A training and development plan will be signed between staff and supervisors whereby the desired outcome and steps to take after the course will be recorded.
'Having a learning contract is good as it makes us responsible for our learning. We expect our staff members to be good learners and we see to it that they will apply their learning back to the job environment by following up with them afterwards,' Ms Au Yeung said.
Training is an integral part of a company and helps staff to align with its core values, to increase their performance and realise their career goals
Every organisation has its stars. Training can help find them and bring out the best in those people and others
Staff should be encouraged to share their knowledge and experience with their colleagues
Staff members should be expected to be good learners and be able to apply what they have learned in training to the workplace