Showing posts with label training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label training. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Does Military Budget Cuts Offer New Opportunities?

The world is changing and the military is changing with it. As the heavy trench warfare of WWI and WWII subsides and new forms of guerrilla warfare emerge it becomes important for the U.S. military to maintain its capacity to use both pinpointed and mass insertion strategies. This requires a higher level of knowledge and ability that will likely put pressure on the Army to adapt to higher forms of combat.

General Martin Dempsey announced at the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing that dwindling resources is a major factor in a reduction from 490,000 to 450,000 troops (1).  There has already been a 13% in civilian and 11% in civilian billets (2). This will mean that current resource levels will need to be used more efficiently and effectively to ensure that they create maximum results.

What happens in government is important for the Army. Overspending in some areas leaves other areas with less. Balancing the national budget ensures that the military has adequate supplies and resources when they are needed. Resources are used as a deterrent and as a capacity builder for our armed forces.

Even though reduction in budgets does come with some tough choices it does offer a few opportunities to adapt the system to do more with less. All systems change the most when under pressure. The Army’s design can be improved to encourage new ideas, technology, learning, and skill sets that can create responsiveness to new threats. It is possible to use the platform of the old to create something even greater.

The military of the future will look less like the past as new levels of functionality are created. Robotics and high technology gear will make their way onto the battlefield and this will require a new type of soldier. Recruits will need to be highly adaptable, fast learners, and high skilled to keep up with new needs.

A few ideas among the thousands:

-Integration of Functions with Other Agencies: ISIS has taught us that lines between insurgent and civilian can be blurred. Integrating certain intelligence and operational functions helps utilize information more effectively.

-Outsourcing Non-Essential Functions:  Entities that focus on their core value propositions often have higher results due to focus of effort. Evaluate which functions are non-essential and whether or not they can be outsourced to save money and improve functionality. For example, some aspects of education and training can be outsourced.

-Actively Recruiting High Performers: Actively recruiting promising young recruits that either have the potential or realized physical and mental skill to engage in modern military practices creates a stronger base to build from. With fewer slots available the basic skill requirements should move upward.

-Using Veterans in Support Functions: Veterans knowledge and skill shouldn’t be wasted once they leave the military. Encouraging veteran’s to work in support functions helps to ensure that these functions get more efficient and effective over time.  

-Developing Innovative Internal Frameworks: Developing mechanisms for the exploration and implementation of new knowledge, ideas, and efficiencies. The same innovative policies and approaches should be encouraged among suppliers.  A flatter organization could be beneficial with a rise in soldier skill and knowledge.

-Raising Active Duty Years: Higher skills will require additional costly training.  Raising the years of service requirements and potential pay/incentives for highly skilled soldiers encourages a higher return on investment from training. Age is more subjective in today’s world.

-Streamline and Cut Fat: Once new ideas are developed and are shown to be effective they should be streamlined to create efficiencies while still allowing for sufficient adaptability. Streamlining allows for less waste and greater effectiveness that saves taxpayer dollars.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Benefits of Mobile Online Military Training

Our military can be called to any place on the earth within a few minutes notice. They leave behind their lives to trek across the globe to protect American interests. With online military training service members can continue to advance their military careers from anyplace and at any time to ensure they continue to be the most advanced armed force in the world.

According to a 2011 pamphlet issued by Department of the Army,”The U.S. Army’s competitive advantage directly relates to its capacity to learn faster and adapt more quickly than its adversaries. In the highly competitive global learning environment where technology provides all players to nearly ubiquitous access to information, the Army cannot risk failure through complacency, lack of imagination, or resistance to change (p. 5).”

This learning must be as mobile as the military itself, or the force will not be its best when needed. Online education is mobile and versatile making learning possible from devices as small as a cell phone; perhaps someday as small as an Apple Smart Watch. Uninterrupted knowledge updating and training saves time and money while improving effectiveness.

The design of the model of that training mirrors current online education while updating delivery methods as technology emerges. Developing military training and educational courses is possible if you have the right personnel and substantial communication with military leadership. Student management can mirror current military practices through the use of cohorts.

Such training is based on the need and often includes critical thinking, military theory, leadership, management, military history, tactics, supply-chain management, etc. The possibilities are endless and limited by the knowledge itself; a great place to blend theory and practice. A few ideas are as follows:

-Hiring Ex-Military Doctors, Specialists and Employees: Hiring veterans not only helps the military retain its knowledgeable staff as a self-developing system but also allows military members a responsible place to work where they can capitalize on their military background for the benefit of the nation. Faculty that has experience in the forces and has advanced knowledge on the main subjects creates a superior product from which other military units may learn.

-Learning Cohorts: Using cohorts that allow for a team of learners, much like a platoon, allows members to work together and create an online group of students. This support network keeps military personnel engaged and connected throughout their development process. It is possible to consider using different skilled genres (MOS) and/or military branches to develop cross-functional leadership teams.

-Training and Credit: Courses in leadership, management, history, homeland security, etc. not only have military applications but can also be degree bearing. Helping military personnel enhance their effectiveness while in the service and obtain a degree faster after discharge makes a big difference in socializing seasoned soldiers back to civilian life through a connected medium that bridges two worlds.

-Military, Business, and Academic Innovation: Putting the polished practicality of military minds, business strategy, and academic theory into the same entity creates an incubator of knowledge and innovation for service stakeholders. Academic theories can be established, matched with business practicality, and tested in the field.

Department of the Army. (2011). The U.S. Army learning concept for 2015. TRADOC Pamphlet 525-8-2. Fort Monroe, VA: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bearing the Time it Takes to Learn New Skills and Become a Life Long Learner

Learning new skills is not easy and comes with a level of stress. It doesn't matter if discussing sports, work or college as the process of learning requires the ability to work to new levels of mastery. The difference between those who are successful and those who are unsuccessful are the ones that bear the difficulties of the learning process.

Think of when you started a new job or tried to do something you never did before. It took some time for you to learn how to complete the task. At first you were lost and then you were able to complete the function a few times with each subsequent time becoming easier. With more effort you will eventually reach a point where many of the actions became automatic.

Learning comes with stress and frustration for many because it requires significant energy to continue trying after failure. Yet failure is not really failure unless you stop trying. Each time you put effort toward something you will learn from that effort regardless of the outcome.

With enough effort and time you will eventually succeed but this success comes with a cost. That cost is in terms of choices and alternative routes. People should try and put their energies where they have natural skills that will complement their effort and create the greatest chances of success. Frustration will be less if you are learning something you have an innate skill in.

It is also beneficial to consider where your interests lay. Doing something you have no interest in simply because your family did it, your friends like it, or society expects it is a sure way to boredom and burnout. You have to chart your own course in learning these skills and the paths you take. It will benefit you in the long run.

Believe in yourself. Learning is not easy and takes time. The biggest failure that occurs is when people give up. Some people give up because of poor self-efficacy that leads to self-doubt. It may be hard but if you push yourself, continue to focus on your goals, and do the work everyday you will get where you want.

Learning isn't easy but it does provide benefits of development for us as individuals and we as society. Becoming a life long learner can help you overcome challenges, find employment, and live a better life. It is more of a way of thinking that manifests itself into a way of life. Find what interests you, set some goals, and continue to seek out new information and understanding until you get where you want.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Importance of Unlocking Customer Non-Verbal Cues

Customers are the lifeblood to any business. If the customer walks away unhappy you may not only lose their lifetime patronage but also deter their friends from frequenting your business as well. The type of interaction between the company and the customer will often determine whether or not they will have a positive impression of your business. According to an article in the Journal of Marketing the ability of company employees to read the non-verbal cues of customers will influence customer affect (Puccinelli, et. al. 2013).

Most of us have experienced poor interaction with company employees from time-to-time. It isn’t always the big things a business does that makes or breaks our impressions. Most businesses know how to avoid these large issues through processes and procedures.. It is the small actions and interactions that can hurt or damage customer perception.

Poor customer interaction often is a result of under trained employees that don’t read the customers needs and don’t know how to respond to those needs appropriate. For example, an agitated customer won’t be happy if you try and sell them another product versus solving their problem. A single mistake in judgement can lose that customer forever and leave a bitter taste in their mouth.

Non-verbal communication is also reciprocal. A customer who is reading the company representative non-verbal cues and picks up on lack of interest, condescending behavior, or annoyance will likely apply that impression to the entire business. They will interpret such behavior as an indication of the amount of value the company places on their customers.

When customers think and reflect on the business there are two aspects that may come to mind. On one hand, they could consider the service itself and whether or not they need that service. On the other hand, they may think of the interactions they have with people who work for the company and whether or not their patronage is appreciated. If either of these interactions are negative there is a chance the customer will find another business to requent.

The study highlights the need to train customer facing employees with the ability to read and understand customer cues and respond to them appropriately. This may occur through scenarios, examples and role playing. When representatives can interpret signals appropriately they will be much better able to respond to the customers needs. When they give off the right signals they can prompt customers to their value leaving them with a higher affect.

Puccinelli, M., et. al. (2013). The value of knowing what customers really want: the impact of salesperson ability to read non-verbal cues of affect on service quality. Journal of Marketing Management, 29 (34).

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Leading the Pack With Your Unique Skills!

Each person is born with certain innate skills and abilities that help hem survive in the world. Cultures may determine which skills are rewarded and which are not. Exposure and discovery of our skills is half the battle while the enhancement of such skills is another. If you want to be successful consider finding what makes you unique and capitalize on them.

Most people are creatures of the herd which means they follow each other in fashion, work, mannerisms, and ideas. This is great for social cohesion but not so great if you want to break out of the mold and do something unique. To move beyond the herd requires doing something new that others might not even consider.

Those skills you are born with will naturally have an impact on what things you are good at. Sometimes you can find a match in life and employment. For example, a person who is strong at calculating numbers would make a great accountant, scientist, or mathematician. Another person who is strong at creative writing would be better in journalism, marketing, or similar fields.

The biggest problem is discovering what makes you unique and then determining how to capitalize on such uniqueness by turning it into an advantage. That requires trial, error, exploration, practice and reflection. Sometimes it is possible to take tests and assessments to narrow down where your thinking and physical skills lay.

Don't be afraid of criticism. It is difficult for people to grasp the concept that we are not all born the same, wanting the same things, or doing the same things. History has shown us that people who strike out on their own path are the ones that do things others are likely to remember. Certainly many do fail but those who do succeed do so in a big way.

To advance your career and personal life take some time to think about your skills and try and understand where your strengths lay and how you might better apply them. If you have a knack for some skill try and enhance those skills and incorporate them into your professional and creative output. Over time you will find that you are not only advancing in your career but also feel more fulfilled as a person.

"We are all born with a unique genetic blueprint, which lays out the basic characteristics of our personality as well as our physical health and appearance... And yet, we all know that life experiences do change us." Joan D. Vinge

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Generalist or the Specialist: Which Approach Should You Take?

Those embarking on their career, or a new career, may want to understand what type of training or education is likely to lead to higher levels of pay and performance. Some will skip college and become specialists while others will move through a broader education and become generalists. A few may do both. Each has their advantages and weaknesses in the short and long-term and career enthusiasts should consider both.

A young person graduates high school and must make a decision between obtaining certificates and entering the workforce or frequenting a college. Specialists are easier to train and don't often required a lengthy college education which can be an advantage for those not willing to take on debt. However, it can also leave a person less likely to be promoted in the future. 

 Adaptability of Skills

Generalists are more adaptive than specialists and offer opportunities for greater levels flexibility in a changing market.  The broad based skills are more transferable and portable across both industries and companies. Specialists are focused on a particular function and may not always be able to easily apply those skills to other companies thereby limiting their opportunities. 

Specializing and Wages

Specialists typically earn more money in the beginning of their careers when compared to generalists. As a specialist in demand oriented markets like technical support the specialist can make a lot of money with certificates and training. As the skill sets become broader the more time it makes to earn higher wages.

Management and Generalist Skills

At the management level the generalist skill takes precedence in promotion. Generalists have a wide range of experiences and skills that help them manage other people. A specialist will be more limited in their perspectives and knowledge. For those seeking to eventually move into management and executive positions the generalist approach is a better long-term avenue. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Are Millennials Becoming Known as “Generation Unemployed”?

A growing crisis is unfolding among Millennials worldwide that could someday have an impact on international business. That is at least according to The Ground Truth Project that includes 21 fellows reporting from 11 countries. Global youth unemployment and few opportunities for training new skills are rising across the world.  Where these Millennials seem to be lacking in opportunity they are also trying to create their own avenues through entrepreneurship. 

They have been nicknamed “Generation Jobless” because they are unemployed and not enrolled in some type of formal schooling. They could someday be the chronically unemployed class of people who are not, or cannot seek, to improve their positions in life through formal channels. This makes them more likely to use alternative paths to achievement. 

Nearly a quarter of the world’s 15-24 year-olds are seriously struggling to meet the day-to-day needs of buying food, affording a place to stay or attending trade/formal post-secondary schooling. This is a generation where a large percentage lives in near despair every day making them a major challenge for business and government.

At present, Millennials should be entering into part-time introductory jobs to learn the necessary skills to earn higher wages later on in their careers. Without out these introductory jobs they will be lacking both education and on-the-job skill training to meaningfully fulfill highly skilled job openings.  

Since this is a phenomenon occurring in multiple countries it has implications for future business recruitment and consumption on a global scale. A generation of young people struggling to find their footing will naturally come along with a desire to change their circumstances. This is also a large generation much like the Baby Boomers that has shown a willingness to protest and support causes. 

Without opportunity many have moved toward starting their own micro and small business enterprises in an attempt to develop their own income streams. Their learning style appears to be more focused on a natural style of development outside of formal education. We can see the same mechanics at work with the initial interest in free MOOCs. 

With a decade of recession and rapid environmental change Millennials live in a different world than their parents and grandparents did. There is no such thing as a life-long job, substantive wage increases, or even a reasonable assumption Social Security will still be around when they retire. They are on their own, globalized, and transient making them one of the first generations forced to someday rewrite all the rules.