Are My Trainers out of Fashion?

I am a Trainer – it says so on my Twitter Bio – so it must be true.

But has the ever-evolving language of HR, now made my Job Title old fashioned; irrelevant even?
Worse still; are we, in HR, in danger of becoming completely unintelligible to the rest of the world – (our wonderful employees)?

I ask, because recently I was asked to “Host a Learning Event”. “Sure”, I replied, “I am the Host with the Most!” (This phrase was entirely lost on the recipient who had never even heard of the great musical ‘Call me Madam’ – let alone watched it).

It is true that sometimes I facilitate (This is different to training, HR), Sometimes I coach and sometimes I mentor (Once again there is a difference that has become lost among many HR folk) And sometimes (rarely) I will combine Training, Facilitating and personal coaching over the course of a “Learning Event”.
I only “Host” when I am entertaining – when I am, for example hosting a new Product Launch for Sales folk, where my role is to tell a few funny stories and introduce the experts. Or presenting awards at a post conference dinner.

Now I am all for keeping up to date and, where necessary, changing titles to reflect new methodology or practices, but what is wrong with calling a Trainer who trains, a Trainer?

People, both inside and especially outside HR are getting confused. We do not know the difference between Training and Facilitating. We think that instruction and teaching are the same thing. I saw a lady recently who introduced herself as a coach and yet her role was to train groups of people! (Tip: that is not coaching).

I have clients who want me to “Coach Skills Learning” to 30 people at once. (Most of my clients are HR).

There are very few training departments in organisations nowadays. Learning & Development is fine, but please, HR, know what the difference is.

We now have Talent Management Departments and Talent Acquisition Sections. Many of them do not have a written definition of Talent. What is the difference between Learning and Training (By the way I know … do you?)

I don’t want to come across as a Grammar Nazi, but language is important in that the we need to communicate so that the receiver of the communication understands what the communicator sent.

Asking me to host a learning event is confusing for the organiser, me, and the recipients – who by the way, just want to be trained.

I am a Trainer – people know what that means, I know what that means – but HR don’t know.

Get Real, HR, and call it like it is.

Paul Walsh

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Reasons why HR should not be Outsourced

Nope, sorry can’t think of any.

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Lessons from The X-Factor

Corker, David.

101 Half Connected Things

1. Life isn’t fair
2. Despite quotes to the contrary, wanting it lots isn’t always enough
3. Not everyone achieves their dreams (and those that do don’t always enjoy them as much as they thought)
4. The person with the most money in the room can wear their trousers however they like
5. Just because everyone is talking about something doesn’t mean it is worth talking about
6. The fact something is ‘all you ever wanted since you were x’ does not entitle you to it
7. If you are talented and choose to work for someone else, then at the end of your career they will have more money than you. They took the risk.
8. If you do the same thing year after year you might get diminishing results – but you can still make more money than the people writing about how you are doing the same…

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Survey Hysteria

Disclaimer: I am apolitical; but a huge fan of surveys.

I cannot help but see a link between the reaction to the results of the recent European Elections and the general reaction by HR to Employee Engagement, Employee Satisfaction, Salary or Customer Survey results.

In both cases we see a huge wave of disbelief, followed by a tsunami of reasons (excuses) on why or how such a result was possible.

  1.  Not everybody took part.
  2. The participants were not aware of the subject matter.
  3. We did not get our message across.
  4. We held it at the wrong time.
  5. It was a protest against the current leadership – they didn’t mean it.
  6. The survey (ballot form) was too complicated.
  7. It is not what people I know say. (my current favourite)
  8. It’s a one-off and it will be better next year.
  9. Anyway, at least the majority (if you count the non-participants) still love us.

Although it can be great fun to debate the reasons why a result turned out the way it did. I think from a HR point of view it is time consuming and non-actionable.

Act on the results, not on your perception of what caused the result.

Too often I see engagement results ignored – stop it. This constant debate about reasons has even led to some HR people suggesting that we should not measure it anymore.

In other words – we do not like the result; so do not let them vote again.

We are better than that.

Paul Walsh





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Sitting in Judgement

Sitting on a plane at Dubai airport getting ready to depart for Kuala Lumpur, last week, a man had a heart attack.

I was sitting in Business Class finishing my glass of champagne when the entire crew rushed into economy and I heard the sounds of serious problems. The captain (I think) came out of the cockpit and rushed to the scene.

There was an announcement calling for a doctor and some people in Business Class looked sheepish – presumably PhD’s. Most of us unbuckled our seat belts and stood up to get a better rubber necking vantage point.  

After 15 – 20 minutes the walkway was reattached to the plane. The ground crew and para-medics came on. Another 20 minutes passed and a wheelchair was brought on and eventually the man was wheeled off the plane with a blanket fully covering his face and body. Some of the crew were visibly distressed and they accompanied his female companion also very distressed off the plane.

I assume he died – I still don’t know.

Eventually another announcement was made to say that a “guest” had been taken ill and had left the plane. There would be a further delay while their luggage was found and taken off, reports made and Traffic Control were doing all they could to secure us a new take off slot. All in all we would be departing about 4 hours later than scheduled.

Then it started.

Watches were consulted and calendars were opened.

Smartphones (those that had bothered to follow instructions and turn them off) were turned on. Calls to KL were put in place. Texts were sent. Voices were raised. Passengers wanted to know about onward flights from KL and would the flights wait for them. People just had to get to work, had to meet a client, had to get to KL, had to carry on with their lives.

Now, of course, nobody enjoys a 4 hour delay and it can cause problems: but a man had just died.

The stewardess, obviously not used to dealing with this (hopefully) unusual situation reverted to her training and offered me another, rather inappropriate, glass of champagne, which I, just as inappropriately, accepted. A 6 hour flight was now about to be a 10 hour one.

Once the other passengers had finished their business they then started the all too human trait of gossiping.

“I saw him in the lounge – he was very overweight”

“What was he doing in economy if he was in the lounge?”

“Must have been a Gold or Platinum member.”

“Probably does a lot of miles in economy – DVT?”

“I am sure he was in the smoking room.” 

“He bought a lot of alcohol in Duty Free.”

“Ahh” I thought, “so that explains it.”

Why do we have this need to judge, to gossip, to find an easy reason to explain the death of a man? You will see it with the death of a celebrity when reported in the press. Mr X, a well known party animal in his youth, passed away at the age of 87. Mrs Y, who famously drank 2 bottles of vodka a day, lost her valiant fight against cancer. And so on.

We need to link a death with some perception that he or she did something bad – and therefore we can carry on being good – so that we won’t die?

Mr Z, who did not eat 5 pieces of fruit a day, passed away on Thursday after been hit by a truck.

It is all too familiar at work. We need to stereo-type and put people in boxes to fit in with our version of how life works.

Don’t judge people based on looks, eating habits, drinking habits or the ever popular “Life-style” Instead ask different questions.

While I sipped my drink I thought.

Did he have a family? What did he do? Did he love someone? Was he loved? Had he brought joy to people he had met? Was he funny? Would he have made me laugh?  

I silently raised my glass to this anonymous man who had inconvenienced and negatively affected the lives of 412 people on the day he died and hoped he had positively affected at least as many during his brief time on this earth – ‘cos he probably did.

Paul Walsh


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Meet the DIMs

While we talk about Generation X, Generation Y and Millennials, it seems a new category of employee has sprung up over the last Decade or so.

They are Disorganised, Incompetent Multi-Taskers, or DIM, as I like to call them.

Now I am being a little disingenuous in order to make an acronym as you must all, by now, be aware that Multi-Taskers are Disorganised, which, naturally, makes them Incompetent. So it is the letter M, or at least the belief that they can M, that is responsible for the D and the I.

Nevertheless, I believe that it is important to name and shame; and calling someone an M’er is  not as effective as calling them DIM. (Although, on reflection, it does depend what the recipient of the name-calling thinks M stands for.)

So what are the characteristics of a DIM employee and where can they be found?

Well as this (as far as I am aware) is a whole new category (or sub-species) of employee there is very little scientific data, so I must base my findings on anecdotal evidence combined with many years of laughing at them.

I would have to say that we have more than our fair share in the Human Resources Department, although, to be honest, they can be found throughout the organisation. My experience of DIMs outside of HR is that after a while they get transferred …. to HR. Therefore, should you be employed in HR, you will have plenty of opportunities to study this particularly interesting branch of the employee family. (Employeemus Dimini HResourcicus)

So, how do you spot a DIM? They have many characteristics, but here are my Top 10.

  1. They will be constantly looking at their Social Media feeds. They may even call it SoMe (a dead giveaway).
  2. They will continue to monitor their smartphones even when they are supposed to be performing their primary function at work eg: Recruiting a candidate, while Texting or Tweeting. (“Sorry, have to check in case something urgent materialises.”)
  3. They will have 2 smartphones, (In case somebody needs to contact them urgently.)
  4. They will always be late for meetings (including Recruitment interviews) and never prepared (something urgent materialised).
  5. They will constantly say, “Sorry were you talking to me? I was just looking at this urgent text.”
  6. As Deadlines approach they will ask for a reprioritisation or something more urgent will materialise.
  7. The battery on their devices is always low. (“I was going to charge it earlier, but something urgent materialised.”)
  8. They stay very late at the office and boast about it. (Yep …….. something urgent materialised.)
  9. They do not know the Mission, Vision, strategy or Values of the Company. (Not urgent).
  10. They are very good at Office Parties ..until something urgent materialises.

By the way, if you are in to Acronyms; when you combine DIM with Something Urgent Materialising you get DIM SUM. But that is for another blog.

I guess I owe an explanation for my opposition to Multi-Tasking.

The belief that you can actually do 2 things at once like listening and Tweeting or chatting and e-mailing is as DIM as the belief you can Text and drive. Thankfully the consequences at work are not as dire as on the road. But try telling that to the candidate who gave a great interview while the interviewers were on their ‘phones.

Paul Walsh


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Integrity, HR, Integrity

There seems to be a convergence of values in organisations; I would guess this is a result of using the same consultants, but it is remarkable how alike company values are:

Corporate Responsibility (a value?)
And so on.

I have considered the introduction of Values that sit alongside our Mission and Vision as another opportunity for HR to grasp the barb and implement them across the company.

To recruit against values
To promote on values
To reward on values
To train for values
To Discipline for non-compliance

Unfortunately values do sit alongside Mission and Vision and are being disregarded in the same careless manner.

Employees walk into work each morning under the framed (and expensively designed) values posters and chuckle. If you stand and listen you will hear them mutter under their breath, “Ha, Transparency, in this company,” or “Honesty … Have you even met my boss?”

Is it HR’s role to communicate and implement the company values? I believe it is. But, before we can do this we need to adopt a value of our own …. Integrity.

There are various definitions, but the one I like is, “Doing what you say you are going to do.”. It is adherence to a set of principles, a moral high ground that HR must defend.

A few days ago I tweeted a semi-serious message on Recruiters, who turn up late, read their messages and basically lie at interviews. Some people commented that this was often sadly true, but what can we do?

The answer is Integrity.

Too often we have failed with Performance Management, Competencies, Talent Management (we haven’t got a definition of Talent in many companies), Engagement and our companies know this.

Now we seem to have turned our values into a joke by not executing.

We have to do what we say we are going to do.

HR must deliver, otherwise they will be treated with the same contempt we reserve for people of no integrity.

Paul Walsh

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