Oasis of Learning

Co-Creating More Purpose and Joy

Performance Improvement Variables

I was recently approached by a Trainer with 10 years of experience for a TNI (Training Needs Identification) template.

When I probed further, I got to know that the person has never conducted a TNI in their life.

This is a classic case where trainers only focus on facilitating and do not learn other aspects of training.

But, I never got a chance to conduct TNI- was their rebuttal.

In an organization there could be many constraints, but if you want to learn and practice nothing can stop you.

I remember when I joined an organization as a Trainer, I conducted a needs identification with all the trainers to know their existing knowledge and skills about Instructional Design. My manager appreciated my proactiveness.

If you look at the Performance Improvement Model (Rummler), there are lot of variables that can influence performance:

  • Knowledge, Skills, Awareness
  • Physical Attributes
  • Psychological Attributes
  • Intellectual Attributes
  • Personal Values
  • Data and Information
  • Material and Supplies
  • Tools and Equipment
  • Facilities
  • Budget and Headcount
  • Culture and Consequences

Starting from TNI might result is assuming that we need to fix the issue with training whereas the concern could to a result of some other variable.

If you would like to learn how to do needs analysis, set learning objectives, and prepare a training design then attend a workshop I shall be facilitating in December.

Happy Learning.

A Networking Lesson

I was working as an Assistant Manager Training and had a virtual team and a boss who used to work from another location. I used to mind my own business and only used to interact with others regarding work.

After some months, I was joined by another colleague.

We had a training coming up and she told me- Atul, Let’s go and invite two senior people in our training.

I was confused and didn’t understand her objective but accompanied her.

She spoke to two senior members from the operations team and told them the objectives of the session. She asked them to share some anecdote from their life and motivate the participants to do their assignments after the training.

One of the leaders was invited towards the beginning of the session and the other was called towards the end. On the training day both the operations leaders came on time and shared their views.

The participants felt charged hearing their stories, the participation was amazing, we felt great delivering the session and got amazing feedback also. The best part was that for the first time we got timely post-work from the participants without much follow-up.

It was the first time someone made me realize the importance of networking in a practical manner.

I shall always be grateful to Smitha Negi for this wonderful life lesson.


Do not shy from connecting with people. Specially people who are influential. You never know how it might help you build more credibility.

Recipe for Tea

Do you know how to prepare tea?

I ask this question in my training sessions and almost everyone knows how to prepare tea.

Here’s a sample of what a participant wrote when I asked everyone to write the recipe:

1. Take a clean tea pan
2. Take water as per the requirement and place it on the gas
3. Turn on the gas
4. Once the water starts boiling add tea powder and sugar to it
5. Use milk if you want to prepare milk tea
6. Bring it to boil
7. Filter and serve it

Looks good. Isn’t it?

If you read carefully, you will understand that the recipe is not accurate.

How many cups of tea are we making? How much water, tea leaves, sugar, and milk to add?
When do you know that the tea is ready?

This activity helps the participants realize the importance of accuracy and completeness of communication.

If you want to discover a range of activities that can help you add more energy, engagement and effectiveness in your training sessions then do explore my e-book: 101 Activities for Virtual Training Sessions

Most of the activities are versatile and can be used in Offline sessions too.

An Activity for VILT Sessions

Ask the participants to make a paper plane in 60 seconds.

They also need to write their full name in capitals on the plane.

They need to begin when you will say START and stop as you say STOP.

Application: Time Management, Task Management, Communication Skills, Implicit Vs. Explicit Needs, Customer Service, Selling Skills


  1. Ask the participants to fly the planes one by one and see how many of them actually fly.
  2. Ask them to rate how did the planes fly on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being low and 10 being high- Key Performance Indicator).
  3. Ask them how many of them wrote their name in capitals. (Task Attentiveness)
  4. Focus on the importance of clear Key Result Areas (KRAs) and Key Performance  Indicators (KPIs)
  5. Talk about Implicit Vs. Explicit Needs in customer service and selling skills.


Join me for a 3-hour hands-on Workshop on 'Activities for Virtual Training' and learn how to use activities, exercises, games and jolts to increase participation. 

A Story on Proactive Behavior

It is a story of a young man who wanted a job at Macy's department store. He presented himself to the personnel director who was cordial, but was told that no jobs were going to be available. Persistent, the young man refused to take no for an answer. He spent the next couple of hours browsing through the store making a list of problems with recommendations for improvement. He phoned the personnel director who had turned him down before and said “I want to work for Macy’s. I have spent the past two hours in the store, and I have found at least ten places where I could make a significant contribution. May I come up and tell you where they are?” The young man was invited up for another visit, and he got his job at Macy’s.

How I got my first training assignment

I love books. I always have a book in my bag whenever I travel.

In the year 2000, I used to travel in a bus to go to my office. I used to board the bus from the starting point and so I would pick up a decent seat and get going with my book.

One day a lady sat next to me. She noticed me reading the book and asked me what the book was about? I told her that it was a self help book- Tough time never last, tough people do.

She asked me to tell me more about the book. I started explaining the main points. She said,” You explain well. Would you like to deliver a lecture at my institute? I will pay you an honorarium.”

I was a little surprised and asked her, “On what topic would you like me to talk about?” She said, “Well, I run an institute for Multimedia. How about a talk on - Career in Multimedia and some personality development tips?” I had recently read a detailed article about ‘Career in Multimedia’ in the Times of India and with lot of confidence I said, “Sure. Let me know when you would like me to talk?”

We exchanged numbers and a Sunday was fixed for my talk. I prepared well and delivered my talk. It went fairly well. Once the talk was over, I had a cup of tea with that lady and she gave me an envelope with a smiley and a thank you written over it.

It was my foray into delivering guest lectures. I delivered a session for ISB Mohali in the year 2017 and while the host was thanking me for the wonderful session, images from my first guest lecture were crossing my mind. On my way to the airport, I was recollecting the amazing journey of my training sessions and workshops.

I got this message today from a student who completed her WhatsApp based course and such messages make me love my profession more and more. I think I know my IKIGAI...



Working with Affirmations

The word affirmation comes from the Latin affirmare, originally meaning “to make steady, strengthen.”

An affirmation is usually a sentence or phrase that you repeat regularly to yourself and to let the universe know of your intention. It is advisable to practice a set of affirmations for 21 days.

A client of mine approached me and told me that her son was facing problems in studies and his chances of flunking the exams were very high. She kept on saying that, “He is not good in studies. He is a slow learner”. I counseled her and told her to just chant this affirmation, “My son is healthy, happy and smart. He is able to tap his inner wisdom and use it to prosper in life”. I also counseled the son and worked with him separately. Today that boy is working as an intern in one of the top hotels of India.

Working with affirmations is very simple.  You need to sit in a comfortable position and repeat the affirmation at least 11 times in a very slow manner. The best time to practice affirmations is when you get up or when you are about to go to sleep. You can still practice affirmations at any point during the day. Some people like to say the affirmations and some like to work with them by saying them mentally. Both are equally beneficial. Choose whatever works for you.

You can take a print of affirmation cards and paste in front of your desk or use them as a desktop background or screen saver.

Six Core Needs

According to Anthony Robbins, we are all driven by the need to fulfill six human needs basically. These 6 basic human needs are not just desires or wants, but profound needs which serve as the basis of every choice we make.

1. Certainty

This is the need for security, comfort and consistency

2. Uncertainty

This is need for variety, challenges

3. Significance

The need to feel important, needed, wanted and worthy of love

4. Love and Connection

The need for feeling connected with and loved by other human beings

5. Growth

The need for constant development emotionally, intellectually and spiritually

6. Contribution

Giving beyond ourselves and giving to others

It is all in your hands

In a village there used to live a wise old man. People really respected him and used to seek his guidance from time to time. Everyday people would gather under a tree next to his house and ask him questions and listen to his teaching. There was a young man in the village who was jealous of the wise man. He decided to teach the old man a lesson. One day he caught a humming bird and went up to the old man. He asked him,” I have a bird in my palms. Can you tell me if the bird is dead or alive, if you are so wise?”. He planned to crush the bird if the old man said that the bird was alive and open his palms if the old man said that the bird was dead.

The old man thought for a minute and said,” It is all in your hands”.

Which accent is the best?

Accent is a characteristic way of speaking based on a person’s ethnicity, mother tongue, location, peer group and work.

Ann Cook, a renowned Accent Trainer says that Accents are neither good or bad... they are just different.

If a person feels that he or she has a lot of Mother Tongue Influence and people find a little hard to understand him or her then Voice and Accent Training can really help.

In case you are in the field of training or public speaking or if you have foreign clients it makes sense to work upon your voice and accent. The way you speak and modulate your voice is a part of your personality and it helps you to create an impact. People pay more attention to you if you modulate your voice as per the situation and can create an excitement and interest in the mind of the listener.

Like the way we go to a gym and build our body muscles, we can also work upon our speech and sound more impactful. One can either join a Voice and Accent course or work with a coach to learn the intricacies of voice modulation and accent.

There are three dimensions of an accent:

  1. Articulation: The way we say our vowels and consonants sounds. (In India people sometimes have issues with S/Sh, Z/Zh and V/W sounds)
  2. Pronunciation: How we stress a part of the word. (Syllable Stress)
  3. Intonation: The music of the language... the rhythm, pace, pauses, highs and lows...

Becoming aware of these three areas can really help you to become aware of your speech patterns and work upon your opportunity areas.

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