Posts Tagged ‘Commitment/Values’

Are you a Talent?

Feb 11, 2011 // 1 Comment » // HR Insights

Are you a talent that others think you are?

For many years in my adult life, I vaguely remembered that I ever scored a spectacular goal from the half-way line in a game of football (soccer in some parts of the world) at a primary school competition. I remembered the euphoria of my team-mates running towards me to celebrate on a rain soaked pitch at the now defunct Mountbatten Primary School; the team went on to win the competition that year.

As I grew older, that memory faded and reach a point that I begin to suspect it was all but a dream…until more than 30 years later I met an old primary school classmate in an army-reserve unit gathering.

“Hey, are you from Mountbatten Primary?”

“Yes, and you are…? Sorry, I cannot recall who you are…”

“I am Peter. I don’t think you can recognize me but you seems to retain your features quite a bit…!”

“Oh…I do?! I will take that as a compliment…”

“And of course I will always remember the goal that you scored from the half-way line…it was one of the highlights of that competition…”

“OMG, thank you for confirming that dream of mine that was with me for the longest time…I keep having this image in my head but wasn’t sure I actually did that…!! If not for this chance meeting and you telling me that…!”

“Of course you did…it was one of the highlight of our cohort and you were quite famous after that…! How are you? Did you went on to have a career in football?”

“Ummm… me, football…I wish…!”

For the record, football takes precedents in the second-half of my teenage years that not only ruined my education somehow but also both my knees that requires major surgery. At best I went on to represent school at various level but has never go beyond that. It’s only in my young adult years when I discover why my so call “talent” was not fully developed. It was from a quote that I learnt from probably the greatest football player – Pele and he says:

“To be a great soccer player; you must first be a great athlete.”

How I wish I have heeded his advice in my formative years…

But when I take a step back and think deeper, I would say that the environment of the 70s and 80s that I was brought up with wasn’t the best for sporting athletes. At that time, Singapore was in a state of industrialization and most national initiatives such as educational and manpower policy are towards creating jobs and preparing the people to be as employable as possible in the marketplace. Therefore many others including me would not have a conducive environment to develop sportingly.

What is my point?

I sometime find it quite amusing when academics and management gurus keep telling the world that there’s a drought of talent out there in the marketplace, that organizations in this competitive world face a war for talent so on and so forth…Have we ever ask ourselves what do we do when we “recruited” the talents into our organization? Have we put in place an environment that the so-call talent will thrives and excel? What is our definition of talent? Are there really such thing as “ready-made” talent out there that when engaged will perform to what’s expected of them?

My recent role in Learning and Development enable me to confront this questions directly and work closely with a team of talent management professionals. I am glad that my business partner have similar view on talent management and we intended to drive the initiatives of human resources towards a holistic approach starting from the “WHY” we recruit to the “WHY” they leave the organization. We may not be sure that all that arrived at our door would consider as “ready-made” talents but we aspire to ensure that most leave our door would consider to be some talent in their own rights.

What do you think?

I would like to hear your view or your definition of talent.

How far would you go for a conversation?

Nov 30, 2010 // No Comments » // Conversational Circles | Stories Retold

Friends of ConversationCircles. Kit and Kimberly (on my left)

Friends of ConversationCircles. Kit and Kimberly (on my left)

Approximately 700 kilometers, 10 1/2 hours of travelling time, and waking up at the wee hours to catch an early train to the coach-bus station at Novena Square. That’s how far I went recently to have a conversation and thought I would like to share this story with you.

Last Friday, I travelled north on a coach-bus from Singapore to KL to meet with Kimberly Ong, the Learning & Development manager of Fuji Xerox Malaysia. It all started from a friendship forged with Paul Lim, whom I have never met, he is the husband of a friend based in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. He also happens to be the General Manager – HR of Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific Pte Ltd (Malaysia Operations). He is one of the biggest supporter of ConversationCircles in the past year. He subscribed and followed  CC Touchpoint since June this year, reading and commenting on my blog posting and sending encouraging emails periodically. In September, I wrote to thank him for his support and encouragement and began a conversation. Paul asked how ConversationCircles might help in his organisation training plan for next year and a meeting was duly set up for November.

When the meeting date draws near, Kimberly – who has since taken over the training matters wanted to know the agenda and specific outcomes of the meeting. She asked to have a call three days before to confirm some details of the meeting and here’s my respond:

“My intention is to have a conversation and meet with your good self and of course Paul if his schedules permit…”. I responded to Kimberly’s well intentioned.

“That’s nice but we wanted your trip to be useful so if we can have some sort of agenda that will help…”. Kim seeks my approval.

“Kim, the agenda evolves with the conversation. Trust that process and we will enjoy each others company.” I thank and assured her.

After an almost 6 hours bus ride and 350km later, I was at the technology and industrial corridor of Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur. A 15 minutes taxi ride took me to the spanking office cum product showroom amidst many industrial giants such as Honda, Honeywell and Colgate. I was met with a beaming Kimberly and quickly led me to a boardroom style meeting room and was soon joined by Paul. He is a stoutly build man with a attention gripping voice, proudly wearing his company colors on his sleeve with the latest slogan on ‘green technology’. Our conversation quickly went from brief introduction of ourselves to overview of organisation setting…and much more.

Paul spent about 30 minutes with us and left for another meeting. Kimberly and I continue the conversation for more than an hour and a half and we both end with some plans and intention to help the people.

I am grateful to be embraced as a friend and confident in the challenges that is facing the organisation. The conversation did not entail promises and solutions but useful questions that help us to be careful in taking the next step. I could be back again soon to have another conversation – and hopefully this time with a larger group than before.

In my six hours bus trip up north, I met a Singaporean businessman whom is going to KL to attend a wedding reception. When he realized that I am taking this trip without any promises of economics or business benefits, he was surprised. But after we shared and learned about the intention of conversation itself can be richly rewarding, I sensed that he understood my purposed and wishes me well.

Once again, a big thank you to Paul, Kimberly and Kit (whom has assist in my travel plan).

See you all again soon!

PS: I returned on the same evening after dinner with a friend also based in KL – to my sleepy family at 2am the next morning.

From Compliance to Commitment – What’s underneath it?

May 24, 2010 // 5 Comments » // HR Insights | Leadership Infusion | Stories Retold | Team Intervention

Hierarchy of Commitment

Hierarchy of Commitment - ConversationCircles

Two recent news and current affairs got my attention.

For one, I read with interest this morning news about a man who has been arrested in connection with a power blackout at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) casino last Wednesday. He is believed to be a disgruntled engineer employed by a subcontractor of MBS.

The other, the passing of Dr. Goh Keng Swee. His story, past speeches, his contribution as 1st generation founding fathers, political achievements and driving many government’s nation building initiatives into the modern Singapore today, were widely reported over the past weeks. One such report quoted his last speech before he retires from politics; Dr. Goh said (quote): “You are coming into this. You are joining a holy order and your job is to build on what we have done, not treat it as a pinnacle, but as a foundation to make it better”

I thought the two reports have put both Commitment and Condemnation into perspective…

If Commitment is the pinnacle pursuit of our Human Capital work, have you ever ask what it takes to reach there? What comes before that? How do we know?

In 2005, I facilitated a teambuilding program for a group of 30 staff from a not-for-profit organization that has several establishment such as healthcare, pre-school and family-care centers. The leadership team faced tremendous challenges to embed the values of commitment and sense of ownership with the team. At the end of the two-day session, when we all sits in a circle and I drew the Hierarchy of Commitment on the floor with white-chalk and asked:

“For a question that I do not need an immediate answers but your deep reflection on where you think you are on the level of commitment to this very organization that you call home. Where are you?”

I invited the team to stand, shoulder-to-shoulder, spent about 3 minutes of silence in the circle.

We spent the next 45 minutes debrief with tears, laughter, confessions and affirmation. When I left the group, many still continue their conversation in small groups, in pairs and in self deep thoughts.

Are you ready to talk about Commitment?

Clarity invites Commitment

Feb 19, 2010 // No Comments » // HR Insights

Photo source : Isaac B2 via

Photo source : Isaac B2 via

Have you ever drive aimlessly? Have you ever attempt an endless project? Frustrated? Not easy?

A rookie football coach was leading the players through their pace in a routine physical conditioning exercises. In one segment, the players have to jump high up into the air about 15 times while jogging round the track. The rookie coach observed that the players lack commitment when they jump, no matter how he commanded them with a stern “JUMP!” or encouragement. Annoyed, the rookie coach confided with a senior and the experience coach said: “When you shout jump, their head responded with ‘how high?’”. He continued, “Give them a target and your heart, and they will reach for you!”

How true! Lack of goal clarity can be an Achilles-heel to commitment. We often start the year with resolution, a run with specific end time or finishing point or even groceries shopping with a list seems to be more enjoyable and productive.

We all work and learn better with clear goals, targeted objective and specific purpose.

Have you communicated clarity so as to invite commitment?

Note: In my previous blog titled ‘When Training Might Not Work’ I promised to share with you a down-loadable Learning/Development Passport. The template may be used as a guide to draft a development plan for all your new employees. Do contact me if you have doubt on how to use the passport template.

When training might not work

Feb 05, 2010 // No Comments » // HR Insights


Much of the attention in human resources seems to be about how to retain good people. Likewise, when we offer training programs, we make them as palatable and attractive as possible. You can learn long distance, online, anytime and anywhere convenient in the comfort of your own home. If you are busy, we can even break the program into bite-sized modules to accommodate your working demands.

How are we suppose to create an environment of collective responsibility and accountability if we go down the road of placating to their ever increasing demand on account of being recognized as a “talent”?

Nowadays, most organizations will have some form of training and developmental plan and with substantial budget and resources dedicated. Not many though would communicate the long-term vision and commitment of the training and development plan and purpose for their people. Mostly are done haphazardly and are dependant on many variables that will influence the more important business agenda.

People stay in an organization that respects their freedom and cares about their learning. Your training efforts would change radically for the better if we solicited participation. We have three pointers to share that you may want to consider as a primer to your training initiatives:

  • COMMUNICATES COMMITMENT – Inspire the people right from the start of their career that they take ownership for their long-term learning commitment.  That all training and development be it on-the-job or designed program require time, depth and personal engagement. True value cannot be achieved in a few hours, on the run or at a distance.
  • COMMUNICATES PURPOSE – Impress upon the people the importance of learning agility. Studies have shown that one of the critical skills in the new economy is the ability to unlearn what we thought we already know and relearn what we could possibly know. The purpose then is for people to change their thinking and consider the possibility of creating meaning and a future that is different from the past.
  • COMMUNICATES CHOICE – Instill a ‘Come By Choice’ mindset. No one should be force into anything that is against their will and values they hold. Everyone should have the consciousness of what he or she wants and need to learn, how to learn and when he or she wants to learn it.

In my next blog-post under HR Insights thread, I would like to share with you a template that you may find useful in inducting your new employee into your organization that communicate commitment to learning, purpose in career development and ultimately their choice to make things happen.

Till next time.