Letter to reader

In December of 1997 the 'Training Services in China' Directory was launched. Twenty-one years later this publication retains its leadership at the intersect of the suppliers and buyers of training services in China. We are extremely proud of this resource creating value to the efficiency of thousands of Human Resource and Training specialists throughout China, influencing the provision of quality training to millions of employees; and creating demonstrated, viable business opportunities for hundreds of training suppliers.

This year's market research captures "The State of Soft Skill Development" in China.

Although 'leadership training' consistently charts as a key demand and provision; a more focused emphasis and investment trend is toward the development of the organizations' high-potentials. These newly minted managers now stem from the millennial generation. Not unlike their predecessors (with the exception of even more fervently not wanting to be told what to do) they face the challenge of switching from leading by telling to leading by asking. Resistance is evident even when the process of 'action-learning' is encouraged and endorsed by senior leadership to support the transition from operational to strategic thinking.

As a coach-facilitator I have personally observed in China when MNC high-potential managers are immersed in an action learning set they generally tend to perform well in asking learning questions among their peer group. The greater majority of participants openly and enthusiastically acknowledge the benefits of the globally recognized soft-skill transferring action learning intervention. There is unanimous buy-in to the value of better understanding a challenge and in turn being able to solve their business challenge through predominantly asking questions verses initiating opinions. When asked to replicate this simple but effective process with their respective teams there is a 70% reluctance to consciously put into practice this all important soft skill. In SOEs and Chinese Private Enterprises the reluctance may be higher. The reasons for this holdback have yet to be definitively explained. We suspect a strong Chinese cultural aversion to asking questions that cause all parties to be overtly transparent may be behind some of the apprehension to truly immerse in appreciative inquiry. Thus, the chance for the manager to successfully change from a transactional role to being a strategic influencer is lowered. This is but one indication of why organizations still experience a challenge in getting their mid level management to adjust from reactive decision-making toward better understanding the problem in advance, and in turn becoming a more pro active strategic leader. Without universal empowerment and the comfort zone of asking learning questions throughout the matrix or hierarchy of the organization, the company remains constricted. The degree of innovation fostered and realizing the highest standard of employee productivity will also be proportionately constricted. It's easier to change a password than it is to change your mind. Meaningful soft-skill development is tantamount to the sustainability and growth of your organization. Invest in developing the soft skill of asking questions and reflection and you and your organization's learning will be greater than the rate of change you will be faced with now and in the future.

Please read on and gain an insight as to what is available to address your organization's future training needs.

Your assistance in getting this 'Directory' to the champions of your company's employee development is appreciated. Soft copies also available on line at: www.uichina.com.


Ira L. Cohen Ph.D (߰)

President-Universal Ideas Consultants Corporation

Write to training@uichina.com to ensure you, your teams and your company grow faster than the rate of change through 'Action Learning'.