Steve's Articles Published in:

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New Zealand Association for Training & Development


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This is the informal part of the web site.
People without a sense of humour and those easily offended, for their own safety, should not proceed further :-)

Currently, all the published articles stored here are written by Steve Punter. But that's only because the other Associates 'haven't got around to it yet'. Steve's views are his own and not necessarily shared by other STA Associates, staff members or our clients. Most of these articles should be read with your tongue jammed firmly in cheek. Your own cheek, of course.

None of these articles, or any part of these articles, may be used, copied or duplicated or distributed in any form whatever without written permission from the Author.
Students are welcome to use extracts from these articles for the purposes of creating their assignments, in return we expect the source to be recognised.

These articles are written in NZ for the home audience (or overseas Corporates with operations in NZ) and in the context of the NZ legal system. The articles are written for interest and debate only and are not offered as qualified legal advice. No charge or fee is received by the Author from the reader.


One step removed (Dec/03)                                              pdf version
I can sit in one spot for ages and just watch the world go by. All those people walking past – who are they? What do they care about? What are their challenges? I will never know, because while I’m there, I’m not involved. Curious, yes; Involved, No. At this point, I am simply an observer. We trainers observe participants all the time – but, much as we may want to, it’s not always possible to act on our observations. Should we?

Teaching Nonsense (Sep/03)                                              pdf version
One of my jobs is to change the behaviour of managers and team leaders. In order to do that I have to convince my audience that the changes I want them to make are firstly ‘of value’ and secondly ‘achievable’. We trainers know that in the adult world, Learning (the activity), followed by Behaviour Change (the purpose), is a voluntary activity. Unlike the Employment Relations Authority or the Employment Court, we do not have the luxury of simply ordering that something be so – we have to ‘sell’ people on the idea. Nutter Vs Telecom, and Snowdon Vs RNZ are just two examples of employment law judgements that are making it harder to ‘sell’.

Jockeying for Briefs (Jul/03)                                              pdf version
Deep in your heart, as an experienced Trainer, you know there are jobs you should have walked away from. Unfortunately you said ‘yes’ when you should have said ‘no’, or at least ‘not until’; but for a variety of reasons, you didn’t. Too late, you’re into the job and trying desperately to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (or as one of my participants succinctly put it yesterday, ‘making honey out of dog s##t’).

Want your own piece of Paradise? (Mar/03)                    pdf version
Vanuatu. The rainy season. I alternate between being steamed in the rain showers, and then baked in the sunshine. The Conference room is so cold people huddle together for warmth. My book has curled up at the edges. My fags won’t smoke properly. They drive on the wrong side of the bloody road and there are no speed limits. I can’t log on to clear email. Even the slightest scratch of the skin has to be covered or is instantly invaded by persistent and very cunning flies. The ground trembles at least once a week from earthquakes, and cyclones happen here, too. What would it be like to be permanently based here? Actually, I think I could handle it.

Customer Service – or not (Jan/03)                                 pdf version
As we lean into the front end of 2003, some of us having over-fed, over-drank and over-stressed ourselves during the so-called ‘festive’ season, I find myself writing on a topic I wrote about in this worthy publication nearly ten years ago. Customer Service – or should I say – the appalling lack of it in general terms. Nothing seems to have changed in that time. I think the hour has come for us all to get tough. The employment Agreement is a two-way document, providing rewards in return for performance. This article is a ‘Call to Action’.

Planning the Big OE - Own Employer - (Nov/02)
On the move to self-employment? -
It’s been an ‘impactful’ 12 months, both at home and on the World scene, so much for all of us to think about, and so much we find hard to understand or come to terms with. If you had a ‘safe’ view of the world prior to 911, and Bali, you probably don’t have the same view now. You’ve had 12 months or more to think about some of this, and reflect on your current ‘life situation’. It appears many of us are thinking of making changes…

Maxing out in Megabyte Morass (Sep/02)
“Computers – Boon or Bane?” It’s almost impossible to run a business – no matter how small – without a computer. Yet years ago we used to do it. Buy a computer today, and you’ve entered the race to keep up, not only with the technology and the learning, but also in terms of Security. If you use email and Surf the Net, you're a target for some sophisticated criminals. 

Education - Losing the Plot (Aug/02)
“May you live in interesting times” - apparently, an ancient Chinese curse. Well, I’m all for a good curse here and there, but surely we can come up with something a bit more blood-curdling like, ‘May your funding be forever stopped’, or ‘May a Moratorium on all PTE’s darken your future’ or perhaps ‘We’ll send your kids home from school’. Employers are co-customers of the education system. Are they being short-changed?

SETSIG - Self-Employed Trainers Special Interest Group (Aug/02)
Find out more about a mutual support group for self-employed Trainers

Why don't more Trainers write for People & Performance? (Aug 02)
After nearly 9 years of writing a regular column in every issue, Steve wonders why many who could offer valuable comments and ideas, never do. Possible reasons, and suggested solutions!

Free and Easy - that's the problem (Jun/02)
“Public Courses – the small business solution?” - I won’t labour you with ‘Best Practice’ in terms of the maximisation of training interventions - for those that don’t know it, I apologise – but how does ‘Best Practice’ occur in small businesses where there is no ‘Training Manager’ on site? Simple answer – in 99% of cases, it doesn’t. While I know most of you are not in ‘small businesses’, nevertheless in this article I’m addressing my professional colleagues to see what improvements can be suggested, and offer a couple of my own for comment

Life's just a pin-ball, baby! (Mar/02)
We all know that the theoretical approach to ‘life planning’ says to plot your specific course to reach those specific goals with measurable waypoints and a timed outcome. Ever played a pinball machine? If the pinball was a sentient being, how do you think It might feel?

Quality is People (Nov/01)
“Kwality Ishoos …”
- It’s true that I have never been ‘drawn’ to, or actually fascinated by, the academic or process side of Quality. It seemed to me to be a Domain inhabited by micrometer-carrying, earnest, mild-mannered, pleasant, florid, balding men with thick glasses and pocket protectors.

Follow the Leader! Well, maybe... (Oct/01)
Can you motivate a Team? ‘Course you can. We trainers do it all the time. If I said ‘no’, would you still respect me in the morning? But Seriously – teams are made up of individuals. A group of well-motivated individuals might choose to act cooperatively – the Team in action. Let’s look at the effect of training on Leader behaviour, and the effect of Leader behaviour on the motivation of individuals within a team.

Cultural ambience - a certain 'je ne sais quoi'? (JUL/01)
Mergers, takeovers, acquisitions, restructures. How strong is Organisational Culture and what is the effect of it in terms of major change – as in a merger? Why is it that nit-picking in one organisation is treated as strategic detail in another?

Exploiter or Exploitee - Nature at work? (May/01)

Unions came into being because of the harsh working conditions at the beginning of the 1900’s. People actually died for the Cause. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, organisations died because of excessive Union demands. In the 1990’s, Unions withered (some died) because of the ECA. The ERA 2000 has the potential to make the Pendulum swing back again...

Veni, Vidi, Venue (APR/01)

You’re standing at the reception desk of the Hotel Adulto Learno del Sol, checking out after running a successful two-day training workshop. Four guests are also trying to check out including a couple of non-English-speaking tourists who are holding everything up. There is only one person on reception. You’re running out of time… Finally you get your Conference account, which also has accommodation charges on it, four pages long. In a hurry, you sign off thinking ‘I’ll check it back in the office’… a nasty surprise awaits you...


A 'Tender' Moment – but worth the effort? (FEB/01)

‘Open the pod-bay door, Hal…’ in the 1968 movie ‘2001’, Arthur C. Clark illustrated a future that is in most aspects already here, in other aspects so close you can almost touch it. So much change. Yet in some organizations, it appears the changes have gone by unnoticed. The tendering process for Government/Local Authority work is one such example…


Walking on the wild side and daring to dream (DEC/00)

What is it that drives those who strike out independently in pursuit of something, risking much – sometimes all - in a gamble to succeed, and why is it that most of the population never even attempt it and thus never know what they are capable of?


ERA for trainers– working with reality (OCT/00)

Like it or lump it - the Employment Relations Act 2000 is here. How can we Train it from a positive standpoint – even if we disagree with it? Punter gets serious for a change… (edited version for trainers from E.T. article same month)


New Tricks for Geriatric Canines (AUG/00)

Why is it that as we grow older and supposedly wiser, some of us repeat the same mistakes? Light-hearted comments from an Old Dog. Actually, make that Lower-Middle-age Dog.


ERB – new skills required (JUN/00)

A tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted look at possible training requirements for Management and HR people caused by the Employment Relations Bill


2000. Yes? (FEB/00)

It's finally over. All the hoop-la and hype about the millennium is yesterday's news. As another year stretches ahead, I look out my window and wonder for the umpteenth time 'what the hell was that all about?'

Back to the Future  V11 (DEC/99)
About the Labour/Alliance change of government, stated intention to repeal Employment Contract Act and 'undo' privatisation of Accident Insurance, possible effect on NZQA, what does this mean for trainers, acceptance of Change, Change Management model.

If necessary, Alone then (OCT/99)
Should NZATD merge with HRINZ?  If not, what does NZATD need to do to ensure survival?

In God we trust, others pay cash (AUG/99)
Can team spirit really exist? Maybe if you start from scratch. What effect has 'organisational memory' on the ability to generate Team Spirit in mature teams with long histories - and grudges.

Training through the Millennia - so what's new? (JUN/99)
Cover story for June 99. Discusses whether the learning process has in fact changed over the millennia, and suggests it hasn't.

Past Employers our Traditional Trainers (APR/99)
About whether training & general career development is undervalued as part of a remuneration package.

A fit of aTAXia (FEB/99)
A bit of fun that demonstrates how the disorganised among us can get into trouble.

Les Miserables - All the worlds their stage (DEC/98)
Good trainers are often controversial. Every now and then someone will complain. Are the complaints valid - and how do/should we trainers handle the 'ego-ding'?

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks (OCT/98)
Old Charlie's not performing but you've been waiting for him to retire?  Ooops. The abolishment of age-based compulsory retirement in Feb99 adds a new dimension to the existence and equitable enactment of a regular formal performance review process. What does that mean to training & development?

Tears for Fears (AUG/98)
Participants in workshops are 'learning', and the learning process can be stressful. An example of one stressful situation and how it was handled.

From Order into Chaos (JUN/98)
The arrival of a new family member can have a huge impact on your way of life and method of working. The change model is applied to this new situation.

Chaos & Order (MAR/98)

Does huge training investment necessarily equal results? Not always, as this project of change was enacted and the little service providers outshone the corporate giant.

On matters of honesty and price (DEC/97)
If you're looking around for comparative pricing and you're just keeping your existing training provider honest - be honest yourself. Putting proposals together takes hours - a verbal estimate takes minutes and achieves the same result.

Praising Appraisals (JUN97)
Legislation and motivational theory work together to make Appraisals (better known as Performance Feedback Meetings) a necessary Management function, not a chore to be put off and then rushed through just to satisfy policy.

Living the life of a Sky Rocket (SEP/96)
All about Stress and the need for planned breaks during the year.

Hoist on my own Petard (JUN/96)
We all get it wrong sometimes. We can get mixed up about what the client sees as really important. It may cost you a job...

Budget Time - Running on Faith (MAR/96)

So you want more money from Management for training purposes? Prove your last result and show your next result. In other words - sell the value.

A Bit of a Round-Up (DEC/95)
Further comments about a couple of controversial articles

Cultural Sensitivity - Like Lemmings, over the top? (SEP/95)
All cultures in NZ are eligible for recognition - not just one.

Don't worry, be happy (JUN/95)
Grumpy or uptight people should read this one.

Copyright - or the lack of it (MAR/95)
Don't be bullied - stand up for your right to be identified as the creator of your work. Others will try and take the credit if you let them...

Political Correctness - an Appeal for Balance (DEC/94)
The fanatics are holding sway and the Thought Police are everywhere. These days you need a filter over your mouth. How dull, uninteresting people can leap into the limelight. But at what cost?

NZQA - Juggernaut or Shining Path? (SEP/94)
Is it just another bureaucracy, another compliance regime, or does it actually add value? Does it improve quality or limit creativity and unique difference?

Customer Service - by degrees (JUN/94)

A look at the standard of Customer Service provision in our Tertiary system.

Beware the dread Motivator (MAR/94)
You don't have to stand on a chair and flap your wings to be motivated. The kiwi culture of 'calm sincerity' will do just fine.

Staff Training Associates Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand.
© Steve Punter 2004 All rights reserved by the author.  

Page updated 1st August 2004

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