Tuesday, 8 April 2014

ASEAN-QA Phase 2 Project - TrainIQA

The organisers of ASEAN-QA project, namely; The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Rectors´ Conference (HRK), and the University of Potsdam together with partners from Southeast Asia and Europe: ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN), ASEAN University Network (AUN), European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), and the Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development (SEAMEO-RIHED) have decided to extend the capacity development plan of QA professionals into phase 2. 

Phase 2 will focus on training modules “TrainIQA”, which are newly developed to meet the increasing demands and needs of internal quality assurance in higher education. A series of workshops based on these modules will be offered to the IQA officers at ASEAN universities from 2014 to 2016.

The preparatory meeting was hosted by Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) which was held on 2 April 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin was invited as an AUN-QA expert to provide inputs for the preparation and adaptation of the training modules to the regional needs for ASEAN-QA Phase 2.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

5th AUN-QA Training Course for Accomplishing Programme Assessment

The 5th “AUN-QA Training Course for Accomplishing Programme Assessment” was organised for AUN-QA members and non-members by AUN Secretariat. The 4-day workshop was held from 18 - 21 March 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The 4-day course aims to introduce the AUN-QA system and enhance quality assurance practices. It is held for professionals who are in charge of quality assurance at programme and/or institutional level. The content of the workshop was revised to specially focus on AUN-QA model at programme level and it encompasses:
  • Introduction to quality assurance in higher education
  • AUN-QA model and criteria at programme level
  • AUN-QA quality assessment process
  • PDCA Approach to self-assessment
  • Self-assessment report (SAR) writing
  • Change Management
  • Study visit to Mahidol University
The workshop was facilitated by Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin together with facilitator from the National University of Singapore. The workshop was attended by 32 participants from Indonesia: Indonesia University of Education, Hasanuddin University; Philippines: De La Salle University; Thailand: King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, Naresuan University,  Prince of Songkla University, Silpakorn University, Srinakharinwirot University, Suranaree University of Technology; Vietnam: Can Tho University, Danang University of Science and Technology, 
University of Technical Education Ho Chi Minh City.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Training and Development Module - Certified Quality Manager Course (CQM)

The Certified Quality Manager (CQM) course is hosted by the Singapore Quality Institute (SQI) and Mr Johnson Ong Chee Bin is the appointed trainer for the Training and Development Module. The module for the 26th Intake was held on 25 Jan 2014 at SQI. The module covers the following topics:

• Introduction to Training and Development
• Training and Development Process
• National Models for Training and Development
• Factors affecting the Future of Training and Development

AUN Chief Quality Officers' Meeting 2014

The AUN Chief Quality Officers' Meeting 2014 was hosted by Ateneo De Manila University on 3 & 4 March 2014 in Manila, The Philippines. The meeting was attended by CQOs, experts and assessors from 9 ASEAN countries. Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin, AUN-QA Expert shared the followings at the meeting:

  • Impact of AUN-QA Assessments on the Quality of Educational Programmes
  • Competency Model for AUN-QA Professionals
  • Best Practices for AUN-QA Assessment

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Service Professionals

Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has inspired and influenced many people in the way that they want to live a fulfilling life. The book provides physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wisdoms for people who want to take control of their lives, their businesses and their careers based on a principle-centered, character-based, “inside-out” approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness. Service professionals, too, could become significantly better at what they do in delighting customers by adapting the 7 habits recommended by the book.

Habit 1: Be Proactive – The Habit of Choice
Being proactive is not about taking initiative. It is about making choices of our behaviours and being responsible for our own lives. The behaviour that we demonstrate towards our customers is a function of our decisions, not our conditions or external stimuli. Proactive service professionals will always make choices and respond positively towards unreasonable customers or challenging situations. They can subordinate their feelings to the values of unconditioned love and compassion. They believe that serving others is a joy and not a chore, and that good service begets good customers. In contrast, reactive service professionals are driven by their feelings, circumstances, conditions and social environment. They only feel good when customers treat them well and if they are treated otherwise, they become defensive or protective. They believe that good customer begets good service.

The concept of having the freedom to choose can best be explained with the story of Mother Teresa when she went about asking for food. This story was shared in ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” course and it goes like this: “One day, Mother Teresa approached a bakery to ask for bread for the poor children in her orphanage. The baker not only refused but became angry and spat on her. Surprisingly, her response was neither anger nor helplessness. Instead, she said: “That was for me. What about some bread for my children?” Stunned, the baker was reduced to tears of remorse. He gave her loaves of fresh bread and henceforth was a convert to her philanthropy.” Like the story, how you choose to respond to a harsh or pleasant stimulus depends on whether you know your objective or end in mind. 

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind – The Habit of Vision
There are two parts to the end in mind. The “bigger” end represents the purpose of your life whilst the “smaller” end represents the objectives or goals of the many endeavors that you embark to fulfill the bigger end. To engage in this habit, service professionals need to have a service mission of delighting customers with positive memorable service experience. They need to have a road map to equip themselves with the necessary competencies and leadership to deliver service excellence. They have to stage every customer interaction and experience with their sincerity and selfless attitude to delight their customers. After you have defined your service mission, you will be able to move on to Habit 3 which provides the framework for you to align your efforts to your end in mind.

Habit 3: First Things First – The Habit of Integrity and Execution
To deliver excellent customer service, service professionals have to first define their tasks and activities into urgency and importance. Activities in Quadrant 1 that are both urgent and important such as attending to an immediate customer’s need, answering a complaint, taking a customer’s call or activities that have some sort of deadline associated with them. Activities in this quadrant have to be attended to immediately. Quadrant 2 are activities that are important but not urgent include customer-relationship building, service planning and preparation, error prevention, personal development, etc. Important activities are those that contribute to the fulfillment of service mission and end in mind. 

On the other hand, activities such as interruptions, unimportant meetings, unnecessary reports, irrelevant emails/calls, spending excessive time on TV programmes/internet, etc. in Quadrants 3 and 4 are not important. Effective service professionals have to stay out of Quadrants 3 and 4 activities and spend appropriate time on Quadrant 2 activities to gain control over the circumstances of their lives. In so doing, Quadrant 1 activities will be reduced as they would have been anticipated and prepared for in Quadrant 2 before they turn into crisis. 

Habit 4: Think Win-Win – The Habit of Mutual Benefit
Think win-win is an attitude of the mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefits in all customer interactions, relationships, transactions, agreements and contracts. Win-win is not based upon compromise rather it is based on the paradigm of abundance and that one person’s win is not at the expense of another person’s weakness. Service professionals can achieve win-win by fulfilling or exceeding their customers’ expectations (a customer’s win) and in turn they would make repeated purchases from them, thereby creating a win for themselves. What’s good for your customer is good for you, and what’s good for you is good for your organisation too.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood – The Habit of Mutual Understanding
Habit 5 is a skill that requires service professionals to first listen with the intent to understand rather than to listen with the intent to reply or to be understood. Listening to customers not only helps service professionals to understand how to serve their customers better, it also helps them to build and sustain positive relationship with their customers. At the business level, organisations can setup customer intelligence system to solicit honest and accurate feedback from customers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders. The voice of the customer (VOC) is a critical input to the design and delivery of service experience.

Habit 6: Synergise – The Habit of Creative Cooperation
Synergise is a verb that requires everyone to work together to achieve a better way (i.e. third alternative) or synergy. Habit 6 is based on the premise that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Synergy can be achieved if service professionals practice Habits 4 and 5 and work together singularly with the customers towards delivering a better service experience. For creative solutions to evolve, service professionals have to recognise and value differences of opinion as well as to welcome and appreciate feedback from their customers.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw – The Habit of Renewal
Habit 7 involves the continuous renewal of body, mind, heart and spirit to sustain oneself to achieve the end in mind. Service professionals have to keep themselves physically and mentally fit, emotionally stable and spiritually purposeful. They need to constantly seek for skill upgrading and self-development to serve customers better. At the business level, organisations have to invest and improve their staff training, technology and systems as well as to engage and empower their staff to achieve both the bigger and smaller ends in mind.

By adapting the 7 habits of highly effective people, service professionals and organisations can achieve new breakthroughs in business performance and customer experience. TANGS, a home-grown retailer, is a good example of how organisations can apply the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” concept to service excellence. As one of the pioneer retailers to join the Customer-Centric Initiative (CCI) in 2005, TANGS has seen its annual sales figures increase by 11% and has won many accolades in recognition for its service excellence. It has been named the Best Shopping Experience – Department Store at the annual Singapore Tourism Awards in 2005 and 2006.

Competency-Based Performance Management System

Performance appraisal can be defined as a process whereby the supervisors evaluate and report on the performance, development and other qualities of their subordinates. It is normally performed as an annual ritual and as part of the administrative duty performed by supervisors.

On the other hand, performance management can be defined as a holistic approach to managing employee motivation, behaviour, performance and development as part of an integrated human capital management system that will help organisations achieve their vision, mission and objectives. Performance appraisal is, therefore, a part of the broader process of performance management.

In the struggle for competitive advantage, many organisations have focused on people as the key to success. A competency-based HR system helps organisations to align the employees’ behaviour, knowledge and skills with the strategic direction of the organisation as a whole. Competency can be defined as an underlying characteristic of a person which enables him/her to deliver superior performance in a given job, role or situation. A competency model describes the particular combination and proficiency level of knowledge, skills and characteristics for each job grade to effectively perform a role and deliver superior performance in an organisation. Competency models allow for the development of performance management systems that evaluate and develop people on their competencies – competencies that directly contribute to business competitiveness. Therefore, having a successful, integrated competency-based performance management system is critical in helping organisations to create, develop, grow and retain talents.

Figure below documents the 5-D methodology for designing and implementing an integrated competency-based performance management system.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Holistic Approach to Human Capital Development

In a Knowledge Based Economy (KBE), it is recognised that knowledge plays a vital role in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of production, service and distribution processes, and in improving the quality, quantity and variety of products and services of an organisation. What differentiates knowledge organisations from others is their ability to empower their workers to create, share, store and use information effectively. These knowledge workers become the source of ideas and innovation that will give the organisation the competitive edge over its rivals. Knowledge is, therefore, a prime source of innovation. This new competitive dimension calls for a paradigm shift from investment in training to investment in human capital.

Is the TNA model still relevant in the dynamic business environment of a KBE? Before we answer this question, let us first look at the changing trends and their impact on human capital development. 

Global competition 
The increasing growth of competition has given consumers virtually unlimited buying choices, forcing organisations to shorten product development cycles and time to market. This pressure eliminates the luxury of long programme development cycles. Management and employees can’t wait for months for the training department to develop training programmes, as by the time the programmes are developed, the market may need an entirely new or enhanced set of KSA. Employees have to learn as needed and not when it is convenient. Global competition has also led to a growth of knowledge as a competitive advantage to deal with management complexity and interconnectedness of economic and social systems. The creation of knowledge is best tapped through learning rather than training as employees embody the organisation’s knowledge capital. 

Rightsizing, Mergers & Acquisitions and Cost Cutting
Competition and other pressures continue to force organisations of every size to cut costs and retrenchment remains the most favoured knee-jerk response. In addition, mergers and acquisitions continue to redefine the corporate landscape. Employees who survive these reorganisations often find themselves saddled with more responsibilities, yet lacking the knowledge, experience and skills to do what is expected of them. Skilled and knowledgeable employees have always been an organisation’s greatest asset, but retaining them is now its biggest challenge. Organisations are finding that creating and sharing knowledge is far more effective than providing training programmes in meeting this challenge. 

Empowered workforce 
In an empowered organisation, employees know that the responsibility for their careers lies in the ability to stay abreast of critical knowledge and skills; and employers realise that they must provide opportunities for their employees to share and learn new KSA. This calls for a growth of self-directed knowledge acquisition as career development becomes a joint responsibility. 

The ever-increasing use and accessibility of the Internet and web tools have changed the ways training programmes and knowledge are designed, delivered and distributed. Technology makes information and learning available on a 24/7 basis. It allows learning to take place in any sequence, rather than the traditional acquire-practise-transfer model. This makes self-directed learning possible anywhere, anytime and just-in-time. 

The relevancy of the traditional TNA model in a KBE is best summarised in the table below.


TNA – Organisational Training

New Paradigm – Organisational Learning
Organisation’s vision, mission and business objectives
Organisation’s vision, mission and business objectives
Global Competition
Long development cycle
Just-in-time, anytime, anywhere
Transfer of knowledge (content)
Build on knowledge (competencies)
High training dollars per employee
Technology enabled and mass distribution (low costs)
Empowered workforce
Company directed or top-down
Individual and community directed or bottom-up
Sequential learning: acquire-practise-transfer
Customised learning: just-for-me learning

The New Paradigm: Organisational Learning and Organisational Training
The above challenges faced by organisations in a KBE require a fundamental paradigm shift in developing human capital. The new paradigm calls for both organisational training and organisational learning. Organisational training is about the creation of new competencies, new knowledge and new values to meet the organisation’s business needs. Learning, on the other hand, allows employees to experiment and create a domain of knowledge where they can build on to create new knowledge. It involves action, where knowledge is applied to create new products, new services, new processes, new systems, new technology, etc.

In the new paradigm, learning should be given more prominence than training as most competencies are developed through learning. Learning, therefore, should be the primary function and training, a complimentary one as illustrated below.